For centuries, social dances have always played a significant part in the history of African American culture. Dances symbolized everything from a sense of community and belonging to artistic expression.
In this new TED video, choreographer, educator and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown explores what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together. The video takes us through 25 different dance styles prominent in the African American community. In the clip, you’ll see everything from the Charleston to the Nae Nae.
Dance has always been a prominent form of expression in the African American community and its diasporas, tracing back to Africa, and migrating to the U.S. For example, ‘The Twist’ can be traced back to the 19th century, brought to America from the Congo during slavery. By the 1950’s ‘The Twist’ would be popularized by Chubby Checker and Dick Clark, making its way into many different scenes from White teenagers to Latin America. Dance has brought many different social groups together, and African Americans have for so long been at the forefront of the culture.
In just 5 minutes, the video does an excellent job of highlighting the history of African American dance. Camille A. Brown also shows us how cultural appropriation has become a thing, with many of our cultural pieces breaking into mainstream.
“Why do we dance? To move, to let loose, to express. Why do we dance together? To heal, to remember to say, we speak a common language. We exist, and we are free.”