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Video: The history of African American dance

Video: The history of African American dance
/ jonya / #+ / Getty Images

If you’re familiar with Master Juba, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, or even Josephine Baker, you know how important social artistic expression has been for African American communities. African American dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. It's an art form that's spanned generations — evolving across centuries, continents, cultures — from the drum-like Juba dance of enslaved Africans to the modern Bop.

The Charleston, the Twist, the Running Man, and the Electric Slide are just a few of the notable African American modern dance moves that artists have used to entertain us for decades— and like any other form of art, a dance doesn’t just entertain but it can channel an emotion or communicate a message. In this electric demonstration via TED-Ed, Camille A. Brown briefly breaks down the history and importance of African American social dance and what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together. Watch the video below. Enjoy!

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