Humor in Hardship: A History of the Cakewalk Dance Descriptive Essay by TrailofAs

Humor in Hardship: A History of the Cakewalk Dance
A discussion of the cakewalk dance and its history.
# 113859 | 1,363 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2007 | US

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This paper discusses the cakewalk dance, which was the first dance to cross over from black to white culture, and from the stage to ballrooms. The author describes how it began around 1850 among African-American slaves in the southern U.S. as a hybrid form of traditional African movements and dance concepts. It was called the Chalk Line Walk at that time, and evolved over time into an exaggeration of the white, upper class ballroom dance of the time. The author explains how the dance became known as the cakewalk dance, and how it continued to become more sophisticated, until it gained popularity outside the slave and plantation owner circles and was used in shows and vaudeville acts. Although it no longer exists in its original form, the cakewalk's influence can still be seen in the high stepping march used by marching bands across the U.S., and its music was the precursor to what is now known as ragtime.

From the Paper:

"Through the years and centuries of slavery, the African-Americans adapted to the conditions of slavery imposed on them but did not lose sense of their traditions. Additional arrivals of newly enslaved Africans also aided in keeping these traditions alive. Slaves were sometimes permitted to gather together or visit other plantations, usually to entertain the plantation owners. From these gatherings dances African subcultures and nations blended together as a hybrid form of traditional African movement and dance concepts."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Emery, Lynne Fauley. Black Dance: From 1619 to Today. Second, Revised Edition. New Jersey: Princeton Book Company. 1988.
  • Glass, Barbara S. African American Dance: An Illustrated History. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2007.
  • Johnson, James Weldon. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. New York: Mills Publishing. 1912.
  • Sonny Watson's (
  • Wikipedia - Dance (

Cite this Descriptive Essay:

APA Format

Humor in Hardship: A History of the Cakewalk Dance (2009, May 14) Retrieved May 28, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Humor in Hardship: A History of the Cakewalk Dance" 14 May 2009. Web. 28 May. 2023. <>