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Popular Shake Dancers in History, Part 2

Hi again!


Here's another short video featuring five more popular shake and burlesque dancers. This one showcases dancers from films in the late 1940s:

  • Gertrude "Baby" Banks

  • Nicky O'Daniel

  • Tarza Young

  • Gloria Howard

  • Betty Howard


Baby, Tarza, and Gloria danced in the iconic 1949 film "Burlesque in Harlem". I call it iconic because some clips have gone "viral" in recent years -- this is really amazing to me! I'm sure the dancers knew appearing on film was special and important, but I wonder if they knew we'd still be watching in 2023.


Kinda makes me think -- who may be watching *us* as modern burlesque performers in 2098, *75* years from now?!! It makes me feel excited, but it also makes me hyper-aware of my mortality. It makes me cherish the moments I have right now, when I can perform every weekend and move my body in amazing ways. It also reminds me of this viral video:

I'll never forget how this woman's eyes lit up while seeing herself dance. I often hear other performers talk about how they *hate* seeing themselves on film sometimes (... hi, it's me, I'm "other performers"...), but these are the moments that may fill us joy when we are elderly and perhaps less able to remember the stage and move like we do right now.


Nicky O'Daniel danced in "The Pollard Jump" in 1946, and she was also featured in other films (not sure if she danced in those, though -- to my knowledge, she only had speaking roles). Betty Howard was a super popular burlesque dancer in the 1950s, a contemporary to the legendary Tempest Storm. They had similar looks, but Betty often did popular shake dancing moves -- as evidenced by her rendition of "the quiver" in the above video shot in 1950.


I love, love, love making these little TikTok/Reel videos, and will absolutely make as many as I can to share with the world. The idea of these shake dancers reaching new generations is endlessly exciting to me -- it's why I love digging through burlesque history!


Until next time,


Bebe Bardeaux xoxo


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