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An Endeavor by Harlem Dancers to Achieve Equality – The Recognition of the Harlem-Based African-American Jazz Dance Between 1921 and 1943

Heinilä Harri

Publications of the Department of Political and Economic Studies 28 (2015) Political History Harri Heinilä’s dissertation discusses an important topic of today in the context of the past: how racial injustice was challenged by entertainers who excelled in the show world. Between 1921 and 1943, people danced to jazz and swing music around the U.S. and world. Almost everything was swinging by the end of the 1930s. In this process, a phenomenon called jazz dance had an important role. Heinilä examines how Harlem dancers used jazz dance in shows, movies, competitions, and performances, and how they were recognized in the mainstream newspapers and magazines. Also Civil Rights Movement and its connections to the Harlem jazz dance are explored. The dissertation is a significant milestone in understanding the importance of African-American jazz dancing in race relations.

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