The Harlem Renaissance was really something. All of the nightclubs were blossoming with the New York City culture, big bands, and chorus line dancers. Authentic footage from this era is rare, but this story brings what is commonly called “Soundies” to life.
Soundies were known as short musical films. Some people call them the earliest of music videos…something that would make MTV executives cry if they realized they were not the inventors of the music video.
Alice Barker is a dancer who just saw authentic footage…and she was in it!
Alice, who is now 102 years old, shared the same stage with some of the legends throughout the 1930s and 1940s. This woman knew Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and even Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Alice was in an array of movies, TV shows, and even commercials in her days. However, she never got to see any of her dance routines on firm.
She has lived an amazing life, but the memory of her time on stage was a blur.
Jazz-on-film.com’s very own Mark Cantor realized his film collection had a familiar face. He decides to show Alice Barker the footage so she can see herself on the screen. Her face lights up within this video. Thanks to today’s technology, it has given her a chance to see something she never thought she would be able to see – especially since her dancing days were more than 70 years ago!
This is a must watch video that will truly amaze you. Alice, who is in a nursing home, gets some visitors. The one man begins to explain about Mark and how he has some old footage. They then explain how in the credits, she is referred to as “Miss Baker”. She nods and says they misspelled her name and that it happened all the time.
She starts to watch the video and then begins to read the title, “Sepia Steppers” as well as the year, which was from the 1940s. The video shines a light on her so you know exactly which one is Alice, the one on the far right.
You can see her face light up with an excitement that hasn’t been there in years. Her hands begin to play to the music as though they were her tapping feet. The video continues on with all of her dancing and Alice is just mesmerized by the memories that are on the screen and she is taken back more than 70 years. There’s another video where she is in front and showing her midriff. Even her family is amazed by what they are seeing.
This is such a cool video because it shares a story of yester-year and brings back the memories to a woman who has seen her share out of life. Share with your friends now!
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