Bill “Bojangles” Robinson

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (1878-1949) is credited with bringing tap “up on its toes”, a contrast to the traditional flat-foot style of the time.  Bojangles felt this gave him more freedom in improvisation and it certainly got him noticed!  After being orphaned as an infant, Bill (then known as Luther) was raised by his grandparents and started performing as a hoofer at the young age of six.  As his popularity grew,he was able to move his performances from local taverns to the popular vaudeville stages of the time.  After finding much success as a dancer, Bojangles then began making appearances in movies.  His most known roles were alongside the young tapper and movie star, Shirley Temple.  He is most remembered for his “stair dance” with Temple where the two danced forward and backward up and downstairs.  As vaudeville declined in popularity, Robinson transitioned his talent to Broadway where he performed until his health declined in the 1940s.

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