RARE AND IMPORTANT EARLY MODERN DANCE (MUSIC--DANCE.) WILLIAMS, CHARLES HOLSTON. Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group. Souvenir Program * [together with] a small printed program for the group's appearance at Montclair High School in New Jersey. Illustrated from photographs. 8 pages, large 4to, original decorative wrappers; the second piece, four pages, slightly smudged. Hampton, VA and Newark, NJ, 1937
a rare pictorial souvenir of the first modern african-american dance company. Charles Holston Williams (1886-1978), served as Departmental Chair of Physical Education at Hampton Institute and as part of that program co-founded the Hampton Institute Creative Dance Group together with Charlotte Moton Kennedy. This extraordinary troupe anticipated the modern dance model of Alvin Ailey by mixing old Negro spirituals and field/work songs with traditional dance and music. The noted choreographer Ted Shawn (1891-1972) created a number for the group titled "Cutting the Sugar Cane," which was set on a Cuban plantation, and utilized Cuban motifs. Other numbers were based on traditional African themes (Mamah Parah, Ogugo and the Fangai Man, etc). There was even a number descriptive of the feast of Ramadan. Unfortunately little was ever recorded of the group and the only visual record of the actual dances survives in the twenty-one photographs seen in this program; and possibly some originals remaining at Hampton (?). This souvenir program was part of the group's 1937 tour, their first.
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