Dancing the Big Apple 1937

DANCING THE BIG APPLE, 1937: African-Americans Inspire a National Craze is an innovative documentary exploring The Big Apple dance in the context of American history. A closer look at the roots of the Big Apple takes us on a journey back to Africa, through slavery, and into the fascinating account of the Ring Shout ceremony practiced by the African-Americans for several centuries. Fast forwarding to 1937, we see the nation struggling to recover from the Great Depression. The Big Apple dance provided helpful medicine in hard times. Americans from every walk of life let loose in this infectious circle dance. Cued by a caller, dancers did moves from the Lindy Hop, Shag and Charleston, and popular jazz steps like Trucking and Pecking. Individual dancers or couples were invited to “Shine” in the center of the circle. From a multi-cultural collision of influences, it was only a matter of months before Americans from coast to coast and from every walk of life, including FDR’s family in the White House, were doing the Big Apple dance. As the final badge of popularity, The Big Apple was featured in Life Magazine in 1937. It was a unifying experience that provided healing and joy at a time when there was little to be happy about. In this intriguing documentary, rare archival dance film footage illustrates the ingredients of the Big Apple, demonstrating many of the steps. Historic documentation uncovers its deep roots in the African-American community.

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