Famous African American Dancers Who Redefined The Word 'Dance'

Performance art has undoubtedly taken care of the world’s entertainment needs for several centuries now. Any discussion about performance art is incomplete without mentioning the word ‘dance’. Dance is an art form that has evolved by leaps and bounds over hundreds of years and is popular in most cultures across the world. Several members of the great African American community in particular, are famous worldwide for their epic dance moves. Some of these incredibly talented individuals have inspired many young aspirants to pursue dance as a career. Master Juba, Bill Robinson and John Bubbles are a few yesteryear dancers, who are still remembered for their ability to dance. These individuals even braved challenges such as racism to pursue their passions. The king of Pop Michael Jackson attained a demigod status not merely for his soulful music, but his impressive dance moves as well. His ‘Moon walk’ continues to be famous even almost a decade after his death. Many kids and aspiring dancers try their best to perfect the ‘moon walk’. Josephine Baker, Janet Collins and Pearl Primus are a few other noteworthy African American dancers who are legends in their own right. According to a popular online source, Josephine Baker was such a heartthrob in her younger days that she received as many as 1500 marriage proposals from several men. We present to you a list of dancers o African American dancers whom you probably didn’t know. These people have redefined the word dance.
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 1 
Tupac Shakur
( 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by Rolling Stone)
Tupac Shakur
307
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: June 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: September 13, 1996

Tupac Amaru Shakur, popularly known as 2Pac or Makaveli, is considered as one of the greatest American rappers of all time. Talent and trouble went hand in hand in Shakur’s journey to fame; the higher Shakur rose in his iconic status, the deeper he became entangled in gang violence and an infamous rivalry, which sadly led to his untimely demise.

 2 
Ciara
(Singer)
Ciara
40
Listed In: Fashion
Birthdate: October 25, 1985
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Austin, Texas, United States

Ciara is an American singer-songwriter whose debut single, Goodies, earned her the title Princess of Crunk&B. Her songs, Goodies and Yeah!, are credited with introducing the substyle of contemporary R&B and crunk music called crunk&B to music lovers. Also a dancer and model, Ciara has had a major impact on the American entertainment industry for the past 10 years.

 3 
Cab Calloway
(Singer)
Cab Calloway
7
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: December 25, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rochester
Died: November 18, 1994

Jazz singer and dancer, Cab Calloway, was a famous vocalist of the swing era.  From the early 1930s to the late 1940s, he led a very popular band that included musicians like  Dizzy Gillespie, Jonah Jones, and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham. A man of color, he became the first African-American musician to sell a million records from a single song.

 4 
Bobby Brown
(Singer-Songwriter)
Bobby Brown
41
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: February 5, 1969
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Grammy-winning singer and New Edition member Bobby Brown was a pioneer of the new jack swing, a combination of R&B and hip-hop, and shot to fame with the album Don't Be Cruel and the hit My Prerogative. His marriage to Whitney Houston was plagued with domestic strife and drug issues. 
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 5 
Savion Glover
(American Actor, Choreographer and Dancer)
Savion Glover
1
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: November 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States
 6 
Michaela DePrince
(Sierra Leonean-American Ballet Dancer)
Michaela DePrince
2
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: January 6, 1995
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kenema, Sierra Leone

Michaela DePrince is a Sierra Leonean-American ballerina and writer. She is credited with co-authoring a book titled Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. Michaela DePrince achieved popularity in 2011 when she was featured in a documentary titled First Position, which follows her and other ballerinas as they prepare for the upcoming Youth America Grand Prix.

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 7 
Willi Ninja
(Dancer)
Willi Ninja
1
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: April 12, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Middletown, USA
Died: September 2, 2006
 8 
Harold Nicholas
(Dancer)
Harold Nicholas
7
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: March 27, 1921
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States
Died: July 3, 2000
 9 
Frankie Manning
(Dancer and choreographer)
Frankie Manning
2
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: May 26, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Died: April 27, 2009
 10 
Gene Anthony Ray
(Actor, Choreographer, Television actor)
Gene Anthony Ray
13
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: May 24, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: November 14, 2003
 11 
Bill T. Jones
(Choreographer)
Bill T. Jones
1
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: February 15, 1952
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bunnell, Florida, United States
 12 
Adelaide Hall
(Singer, Artist, Jazz musician, Actor, Stage actor)
Adelaide Hall
1
Listed In: Musicians
Birthdate: October 20, 1901
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City
Died: November 7, 1993
 13 
Judith Jamison
(Dancer)
Judith Jamison
0
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: May 10, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 14 
Howard Sims
(African-American Tap Dancer)
Howard Sims
0
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: January 24, 1917
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States
Died: May 20, 2003

Howard Sims was an African-American dancer who specialized in tap dance. He was a regular attraction at Harlem's Apollo Theater from the 1950s to 2000. In the 1980s, he helped revive the interest in tap dance by serving as a cultural ambassador and touring around the world. His dancing skills earned him appearances in films and TV shows. 

 15 
Cholly Atkins
(Dancer)
Cholly Atkins
0
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: September 30, 1913
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pratt City, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
Died: April 19, 2003
 16 
Janet Collins
(Ballet Dancer)
Janet Collins
1
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: March 7, 1917
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: May 28, 2003
 17 
Elly
(Rapper, Dancer)
Elly
1
Listed In: Singers
Birthdate: September 21, 1987
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Misawa, Aomori, Japan
 18 
Mia Fyre
(Actress, Choreographer)
Mia Fyre
0
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: February 12, 1965
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City, United States
 19 
Donald McKayle
(American Dancer and Choreographer)
Donald McKayle
0
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: July 6, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: April 6, 2018
Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
 20 
Albert Evans
(Ballet Dancer)
Albert Evans
1
Listed In: Dancers
Birthdate: December 29, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Died: June 22, 2015