Top 5 African American Moments In Dance

Sources: Lansing State Journal – By Alex Woody | All Things Michael


This winter, Complexions Dance will come to Wharton Center. Known as the first American multicultural company, founded by Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Dance boasts a new exciting genre of dance that combines the best of athleticism, lyricism, technical training, and experience. Tickets to see Complexions Contemporary Dance can be purchased on or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.

Throughout history, African-Americans have pioneered many movements throughout dance history and culture. From crafting iconic choreography, innovating popularized dance, and integrating dance companies, check out these 5 iconic African-American moments in dance!

1. Thriller – Michael Jackson

Perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of dance choreography of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video took the world by storm with its dance choreography. The choreography is still paid homage to today, remembered yearly as Halloween rolls around.

2. Misty Copeland is promoted to principal dancer at American Ballet Theater

This last June, Misty Copeland made ballet history when she became the first African American dancer to be named the principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.

3. Josephine Baker’s Banana Dance

Josephine Baker was a famous American-born French dancer, singer, and actress who popularized many well-known dances in the 1920s. Her most famous routine, titled ‘The Banana Dance’, featured her doing the original Charleston in a skirt made of artificial bananas.

4. George Faison becomes the first African-American to win for Best Choreography at the Tony Awards for The Wiz

In 1975, The Wiz took Broadway by storm. Taking home seven Tony Awards, the musical became the first African-American choreographed musical to win the Best Choreography award. This December, NBC will be producing a live television broadcast of The Wiz, be sure to check it out!

5. Complexions Dance

Founded in 1994, this avant-garde dance company became America’s first multicultural ballet company. Today, they tour across the world with their ballets described as ‘innovative’ and ‘awe-inspiring’. Be sure not to miss Complexions dance when it comes to Wharton Center January 19th, 2016!


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