Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (May 25, 1878 â€“ November 25, 1949) was an American tap dancer and actor of stage and film. Audiences enjoyed his understated style, which eschewed the frenetic manner of the jitterbug in favor of cool and reserve; rarely did he use his upper body, relying instead on busy, inventive feet, and an expressive face.
A figure in both the black and white entertainment worlds of his era, he is best known today for his dancing with Shirley Temple in a series of films during the 1930s, and for starring in the 1943 musical Stormy Weather, loosely based on Robinson’s own life.
Janet Collins was born on March 2, 1917 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She grew up in Los Angeles, California. She auditioned for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo when she was only 15. She was very talented, but she was not accepted because she was black.
They told her she would have to dance in a white face. She said no thanks. She went to New York City in 1948. She had a chance to dance at the 92nd Street YMHA in February 1948. Many other black dancers got their big chance there.In 1951 she became the first African American prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera in NY, NY.
She made a lot of African American little girls want to be ballerinas. Janet taught at the School of American Ballet in New York City. She moved to California and continued to teach dance. In the 1960s, Janet taught dance at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. (very close to Pocantico Hills School.) Janet Collins opened the door for other African American girls and women who want to be ballet dancers. Continue reading