AVM

American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2012 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 21

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The Funsters by James Robert Parish, William T. Leonard, Gregory W. Mank, Charles Hoyt, John Robert Cocchi & Florence Solomon (699 pp, 1979, Arlington House, New Rochelle, NY, ISBN #0-87000-418-2) With the quantity of pages and the number of authors and researchers, one does not expect omissions such as Olsen & Johnson or the Ritz Brothers. The authors do cover 62 comedians and do that very well with a combination of quite complete career profiles and a quick sense of their abilities and styles.

Acrobats of the Soul: Comedy & Virtuosity in Contemporary American Theatre by Ron Jenkins (179 pp, 1988, Theatre Communications Group, NYC, ISBN #0-930452—72-0) The author is both an academic and a clown, so the ten present day acts he writes about are handled with understanding. There may be more esoteric exposition than the casual reader will enjoy, but this remains the best source for information about Bill Irwin, Paul Zaloom, Avner the Eccentric, Penn & Teller and Spaulding Gray. Jenkins also covers the Pickle Family Circus, Cirque du Soleil, Stephen Wade and The Flying Karamazov Brothers.

 

DANCE

jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance by Marshall & Jean Stearns (450 pp, 1964/1994 Da Capo Press, NYC, ISBN #0-306-80553-7).  This remains the definitive exploration of non-concert dance in America. It is the only extant source, thus far published, that rescues dozens of great pioneers dancers—black and white—from an undeserved oblivion. The Stearns combined meticulous research, taped interviews, contemporary reviews, gossip and their own taste and expertise to create a masterwork.

Tap!: The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and Their Stories, 1900-1955 by Rusty E. Frank (336 pp, 1990/1994, Da Capo Press, NYC, ISBN #0-306-80635-5) is a book about great tappers by a great tapper. Rusty Frank combines thumbnail career profiles and interviews with 30 artists from Willie Covan and Leonard Reed to Jimmy Slyde and Brenda Buffalino. Also includes discography and filmography. A fine read.

A Century of Dance: A Hundred Years of Musical Movement from Waltz to Hip Hop by Ian Driver (247 pp, 2000, Cooper Square Press, NYC, ISBN #0-8154-1133-2) A survey of popular dance from the Cakewalk and Clog to Tap, Charleston and Tango to Lindy Hop to Twist to Break Dancing, as performed in vaudeville, nightclubs, dance halls, movies and sidewalks.

Hoofing on Broadway: A History of Show Dancing by Richard Kislan (202 pp, 1987, Prentice Hall, NYC, ISBN #0-13-809484-5). A musical comedy expert waltzes us through a history of dance on the Great White Way from Ned Wayburn to Tommy Tune.