Central Ave Dance Ensemble

The Central Avenue Dance Ensemble is a multi-aged performance group led by Chester Whitmore. Our mission is to perpetuate and promote American Vernacular dances of the 20th Century. These dances include: American street dances such as Leonard Reed’s Shim Sham Shimmy, the Shorty George, the Charleston (1920s) and the Lindy Hop (1920s - 40s). These are in addition to dances derived from them like the Chicago Bop (1960s) which begat Steppin’ (1990s). We aim to show the connections between dance forms from generation to generation and their connection to music and cabaret; to show how American vernacular dances were influenced by African dance and were shaped by spirituality and slavery (liturgical dance) as well as were molded by rhythm and music (tap dance and Salsa). We aim to express the infectious healing qualities of dance, to educate audiences and to spread the joy of dance.

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