Jean Idelle was a black American burlesque dancer and singer who trained under Katherine Dunham and is credited as one of the first black performers to appear on stage with white dancers throughout the US and Canada.
As a young woman, Idelle expressed to her mother she wanted to be a burlesque performer. Her mother was shocked and against her daughter’s dance intentions and took her to church for the pastor to “talk some sense into her.” According to Idelle, the pastor encouraged her aspirations and told her to “go out and be the next Lena Horne.”
Idelle performed and traveled throughout North America when racism, segregation, violent hostilities were quite rampant. However, Idelle was determined to break down ignorance and racial barriers and perform onstage with white dancers for her audience. She was famous for her gigantic fan dance feather routine.
From 1950 to 1964 Idelle was a headliner for the Minsky’s Burlesque Show at the Rialto Theater in Chicago. She also graced the covers of various magazines at the time such as Jet and Hue. After Idelle retired from dancing, she devoted the next several decades to raising her family but she has recently come out of retirement and can still be seen appearing at annual Burlesque Reviews in Las Vegas.
Jean Idelle resides in Long, Island New York.
Aida Overton Walker (14 February 1880 – 11 October 1914), also billed as Ada Overton Walker and as “The Queen of theCakewalk“, was an African-American vaudeville performer and wife of George Walker. She appeared with her husband and his performing partner Bert Williams, and in groups such as Black Patti’s Troubadours. She was also a solo dancer and choreographer for vaudeville shows such as Bob Cole, Joe Jordan, and J. Rosamond Johnson‘s The Red Moon (1908) and S. H. Dudley’s His Honor the Barber (1911).
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