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Dance

30
Oct
Posted By : Alice Golden
10/30/2020 5:24 AM

Movies have the power to reflect the reality people live in. Therefore, old movies are of great importance to contemporary people. Before watching Stormy Weather, I had no idea what it would be about. I thought it would be a musical film with a dramatic plot. I knew that it was filmed in that times when African-American actors rarely appeared in Hollywood movies. That is why I thought that it would reflect some dramatic opposition between black and white dancers. Despite my expectations, there is not as much tension as I had expected. Still, I have noticed many inequality displays in this film. Hence, the movie Stormy Weather reflects the relations between white and black Americans through the dance as you can read in essay on dance https://essay-online-shop.com/.


To start with, this movie supports the Broadway theme. It is clear from the musical genre of the movie. It combines minstrel songs and the cakewalk, it has a definite “Broadway” sound, and performers are the cornerstone of this movie. It includes comedians, singers and dancers and require main star performers to sing, dance and act. The “Jumpin Jive” scene of the movie also represents this Broadway theme. The viewers can notice Cab Calloway and his orchestra. They perform the singing and acting part of the scene. Later, two black dancers join the stage to perform the dance. Not only does this scene support the Broadway theme, but it also reflects the attitude to black performers. Although these two black dancers are obviously talented, no one gives them the leading role in the scene. They act only as supportive stars, and it is clear that they cannot expect more. Only white performers can get the leading roles in the musical in that period. No matter how talented black performers are, they cannot demand more than supportive roles.


In the given scene, the viewers see two black dancers, who are the famous Nicholas Brothers, known for their dancing talent. They demonstrate the main elements of cakewalk in their dance. They are very technical dancers and they accompany each drumbeat with the step. Jumps and steps are the main elements of the dance. Besides, the brothers add acrobatic tricks like splits. It is fascinating how they make splits on the each stair of the staircase, located on the stages. Besides, they immediately rise on their feet after each of the splits. They do not even miss the rhythm. Such a dancing manner requires a lot of practice before the show.


This dance represents the black American identity. As it is known from the history, the cakewalk has been always a competition dance. As Jonas writes, “the name derived from festival dances on antebellum plantations, where enslaved Africans competed to see who could improvise the fanciest steps”. Besides, cakewalk contests were mainly males. This scene also looks like a competition between the two individuals. It depicts the dancers as two rivals, who strive to win the audience’s favor. Taking into account the origin of the dance, black performers were the only ones who could do it well and did not perceive it as embarrassing. So it shows what moves were popular among the African American community of that time.


Another scene that demonstrates the stereotyped vision of black performers is the scene, where Bill Robinson performs the “tam-tam tap dance” on the stage. There he combines the elements of the jig and the buck with classical tap movements. What he shows is mainly about the feet movements, and the hands are not involved. To add even more, Bill Robinson manages to jump from one tam-tam to another while dancing. It is not the classical technique of the dance. The standard stage with wooden floor is sufficient for the tap dance. That is why there is no need for jumping on the narrow surface.


The show where Bill demonstrates his dancing skills speaks about many things. This scene perpetuates the stereotypes white Americans have about the black population. The stage director chooses Bill for this role only because his leading singer Selena asks him to do so. The viewers should keep in mind that historical truth about the casting for the shows in that time. Even if Bill had a great tapping technique, the stage director could not give him credit for it. He reflects the arrogant attitude that white Americans shared towards the black people in that era. Only white actors and dancers could get leading roles. Meanwhile, black people could only play supporting roles. Therefore, instead of giving him leading dancing role, the director allows him to beat the drums. Nevertheless, Bill decides to show his perfect sense of rhythm during the performance. He jumps on the tam-tams and skillfully beats them with his feet.


The dance relates to my thoughts on American identity. It is clear that white people tolerated black people for their ethnical dancing patterns. It points to the fact that Europeans treated black people as some kind of wonder. Black people were awkward and worth to make fun of. According to Jonas, “The format of the shows was set; black performers had little choice but to imitate the racial stereotypes that white performers had established: shiftless pop-eyed “darkies”. Comparing to that, the dancing style of white people was different. It was more classy and elegant. It was not related to the wilderness. White people were not savages, and they were not the objects of jokes and laughter. Their coupled dance was more sophisticated than African dance, focused typically on the group and on the soloists, who emerged from the group and then merged back into it.


Both scenes from the movie Stormy Weather reflect the strict social division between White and Black Americans. In that historical period, authority in the eyes of white people could only be attained through music and dances. It was the sphere white people did not consider a competitive area. In fact, black people had brought this dance with them since the times of slavery. As Jonas writes, “When people leave the society they were born into, either voluntarily or involuntarily, dance is one of the things they take with them; as soon as they arrive in a new place and start dancing, they re-create, consciously or unconsciously, an important part of their heritage”. It was their special way to maintain their identity. Even when white people captivated Africans, they could not deprive them of their cultural legacy. In music, it was blues and Reggie as a sign of protest. In dancing, it was classical clapping, stepping, and chanting of Africa.


To conclude, the movie Stormy Weather demonstrates the relations between white and black people through the dance. The choice of performers and their roles points to the inequality of access to leading roles for Black actors. At the same time, the movie reveals the relationships that existed between the two races at that time. Both scenes from the movie point to that kind of inequality. In short, they indicate that being talented in dancing was both the blessing and the curse of being Black. African Americans of that time could only have supportive roles and perform them according to the racial stereotypes. Although many things have changed since then, racial inequality is still an issue for hot debates nowadays. Even when many African American performers come to the prominence now, the roles, they perform, reveal some stereotypes. At the same time, African dancing has had a profound impact on modern culture. It is used mainly in R&B music, but it affects today pop scene as well.


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