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The history of African-American social dance - Camille A. Brown

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Why do we dance? African-American social dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. They remain an affirmation of identity and independence. In this electric demonstration, packed with live performances, choreographer, educator and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown explores what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Camille A. Brown
  • Script Editor Mia Nacamulli
  • Title Designer Tolga Yildiz
  • Narrator Camille A. Brown
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Interested in some more of the history of social dance in the black community? This article has some great references and video clips showing the dances described and discussed in this lesson: From juba to jitterbug to jookin: Black dance in America.

The educator of this lesson has a wonderful site that will further inspire you to learn more about social dance. Take a look here
History does really connect with culture through social dance. Here are two amazing references from Camille A. Brown that illustrate those connections. Black Girl: Linguistic Play and Mr. TOL E. RANCE. Both guides were created by Heather McCartney.

Interested in seeing a video clip from Mr. TOL E RANCE? Watch: Camille A. Brown's Mr. TOL E. RAncE "reel talk.” There is also A TEDx Talk featuring Camille A. Brown that discusses Black Girl: Linguistic Play. Watch it here.

Photo credit for Camille A. Brown headshot: Whitney Browne.
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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Camille A. Brown
  • Script Editor Mia Nacamulli
  • Title Designer Tolga Yildiz
  • Narrator Camille A. Brown