Stuff We Liked: Docs on African American Dances and Harlem Basketball, Plus More Voices of Black Dancers

On the Shoulders of Giants Film Trailer .jpg

This week, we highlight two documentaries that you should add to your viewing list.

“Everything Remains Raw” is an unfinished but compelling documentary that chronicles the history of African American vernacular dances, from their African roots, to swing and jazz, to modern urban dances. By filmmaker, historian Moncell Durden. Available to stream for free on Vimeo and YouTube.

“On the Shoulders of Giants” focuses on a separate but not unrelated contribution of Black Americans to our society -- through sport. It tells the story of the Harlem Renaissance Big Five, commonly known as the The Harlem Rens. In 1939 the world of professional basketball was segregated and "colored" teams could not compete against white teams, nor vie for league championships. The Harlem Rens were the best of the black teams yearning for a chance at a national championship. 

Shelby Johnson shared this film with us, noting:

"Lindy Hoppers mainly only focus on music and dance but other aspects of the jazz age and black culture are glossed over. Harlem was more then just a place of music and dance halls. This covers another aspect of life in Harlem that brings it more to life... I'm a sports history buff and studied how a lot of social justice issues come across in sport well before general society."  

Other Stuff We Liked This Week:

  • Bobby White’s latest “Swungover” podcast focuses on “What’s it like being Black in the scene?” It’s basically a long conversation with Black dancers Darold Alexander, Latasha Barnes, James Agena Georges, Javier Johnson, Breonna Jordan, Mikayla Pryor, and Radeena Stuckey. Give it a listen!

  • NYC-based African American dancer Odysseus Bailer shares an essay called “What Can I Do To Help?” with several suggestions for concrete actions dancers can take to make the scene more welcoming to people of color.

  • SF Jazz and Google Arts and Culture have collaborated on this pretty neat featurette on “Giants of Jazz” which includes profiles of some of our favorite musicians, including Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

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