LA Library Presenter Program

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LA Library Presenter Program


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The History of Black Dance in America (HBDA) is a multimedia dance show which explores the 200 year history of African-American Vernacular Jazz Dance in America.  The show was performed by the Central Avenue Dance Ensemble (named after the historic African-American section of Los Angeles) live on-stage from 2011 until 2020. Many of these shows were videotaped with camcorders in the theaters, sometimes by paid staff, sometimes by random members of the audience.


The Best of HBDA is a retrospective of selections from these recordings -- the most popular, the most memorable and the sentimental favorites.  The show is a unique combination of education and entertainment, the first of it’s kind for this particular subject.  This retrospective will be hosted by dancer, choreographer and dance historian, Ron Parker. He will give you a little perspective on the histories of the dances you will see re-created.   He will also conduct a short Q&A at the end of the video screenings.


The show is a combination of education and entertainment -- half narrated documentary , half live dance show.  Its style was conceptually fashioned after Ken Burns documentary "The Civil War", replacing old black and white photos with live performances.  I feel it fit's the mission of the LA Library as a very entertaining, very educational and very engaging look at a very little known aspect of American history that is responsible for a very large part of modern American culture -- Vernacular Jazz Dance.  We have found over the years that many people leave our shows with knowledge they did not have before, and are typically interested in learning more.


It is a family-friendly trip down memory lane, the histories of this historic, groundbreaking show as well as that of American Black Dance History -- that is, the dances popularly danced by Americans over the past 200 years that were created or influenced by enslaved Africans and their descendants.  


As a longtime supporter who worked on the very first shows back in 2011-2012 says: “Yeah, those shows were pretty big projects and the best kind of stuff to share ... uplifting stories that frame history in ways that build strength and community. I was glad to be a part of it.”




The History of Black Dance in America was a live, multimedia dance show that combined education and entertainment to tell the story of the Black roots of American social dance.  Ron Parker is the show’s creator and produced these shows from 2010 until 2020 -- when everything stopped.  


The Best of HBDA is an online retrospective of 10 years of HBDA performances.  This event will be hosted by internationally renowned tap dancer and dance historian, Chester Whitmore.  He will also conduct a Q&A at the conclusion of the performances.  Chester has taught at Herrang Dance Camp for decades.


This is the little-known history of the most popularly danced American social dances that were created or inspired by the descendants of enslaved Africans.  We are talking dances like the Cake Walk, Black Bottom, Charleston, Lindy Hop/Swing, and much more.  Today, dances such as Contemporary Urban Ballroom and Chicago Style Step, as well as Hand Dancing, are all evolutions of these earlier styles of dance. 


 Many people do not realize that several of the classic Ballroom dances, such as Foxtrot, Quickstep, Cha-Cha and Samba, all have Black origins.   


What Qualifications do you bring:


I hold a degree in French and Linguistics from UCLA.  I am a Los Angeles Ballroom, Lindy Hop and Argentine Tango dancer and dance historian for the past 20 years.  You will find a number of my historical dance research videos on my YouTube channel: 


I am co-founder of The Central Avenue Dance Ensemble and creator of and producer, writer, director and narrator of every History of Black Dance in America show since 2011.


I am former vice-president of the Los Angeles chapter of USA Dance, Inc, and have spent a good deal of my life dedicated to expanding dance in the community.


Provide a short description of the program:


A retrospective of 10 years of History of Black Dance in America performances hosted by dancer, choreographer and dance historian, Ron Parker.  This is the history of the most popularly danced American social dances that were created or inspired by the descendants of enslaved Africans.  Which means, this is the history of American social dance.