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Who is Bill “Bojangles” Robinson?
The dance has been at the root of world culture since the beginnings of mankind. Bill Robinson, born shortly after slavery was abolished, lived to see his image and his unique way of tapping his feet become internationally loved and influential. As we watch him dance on film, sing on recordings and talk on the radio, we’ll have a rare opportunity to find the man behind the derby and the smiling face.
Host: Dance historian Constance Valis Hill
Constance Valis Hill, Five College professor of dance, has a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University; M.A. in Dance Research and Reconstruction from City College of the University of New York; Bronze Certificate from the International Society of Ballroom Dance; Neutral and a Character Mask certificate from Pierre LeFevre at the Juilliard School.
Professor Hill has taught at the Alvin Ailey School of American Dance, Conservatoire d’arts Dramatique in Paris, and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. As a choreographer, director, and mask specialist, she has worked with the French playwright Eugene Ionesco; Czech scenographer Josef Svoboda; Romanian director Liviu Ciulei, and Toni Morrison on her play Dreaming Emmett,directed by Gilbert Moses. Her writings have appeared in such publications as Dance Magazine, Village Voice, Dance Research Journal, Studies in Dance History; Discourses in Dance, and in such edited anthologies as Moving Words: Re-Writing Dance; Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African-American Dance; Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader; Taken By Surprise: A Dance Improvisation Reader,and Kaiso! Writings By and About Katherine Dunham. Her book, Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers(2000) received the Deems Taylor ASCAP Award; and her most recent book, Tap Dancing America, A Cultural History (2010), for which she received the Tap Preservation Award from the American Tap Dance Foundation, was supported by grants from the John D. Rockefeller and John Simon Guggenheim foundations.
As a Five College Professor of Dance at Hampshire College, Professor Hill teaches courses in dance history, performance theory, jazz studies, choreography on camera, and feminist performance; and is working with her colleagues to establish a black studies core curriculum.