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Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson - Buck-Dance

Tap Dance Research N°8 - Bill Robinson and the Time-Step: the complete Buck-And-Wing Dances - a tapdance research book by Victor Cuno (467 p.) 1) The BOOK: all about Robinson and his Buck-Dance / presentation of his Combinations. 2) The DOC: the complete routines / Robinson’s style performed by others / The oral tradition. Last update September 5, 2018. Available as DOWNLOAD PDF

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part 1: The Book
    Introduction    
Robinson’s Tap Dancing Styles    p.13
About Bill Robinson’s Dancing Style: quotes and comments    p.13
Bill Robinson and Improvisation    p.15
Bill Robinson’s favorite music: quotes and comments    p.16
The Buck-And-Wing Style    p.16
Bill Robinson’s personal touch    p.18
Specific Bill Robinson tap techniques    p.19
Swing or not ? Bill’s Dancing Rhythm    p.19
Identification of the Steps    p.20
A personal version of the Buck-And-Wing    p.21

    Steps and Techniques
Bill Robinson and the Time-Step    p.22
    Time-Step & Time-Step Breaks    p.23
Time-Step Crossover    p.25    
Sand Time-Step    p.29
Changeover Time-Step    p.31
Bo’s Triple-Roll technique    p.32
Bill’s famous Triple-Roll Combinations (Three-And-A-Break)    p.33
Double-Buck / Time-Step Combination    p.34
The Set-Up / Repertory of the Combinations    p.36
Triple-Roll-And-Brush-Around    p.39
Triple-Roll Combinations with a different set-up
a) decreasing phrase 8-8 4-4 2-2-2-2 counts    p.41
b) The 4-bar Triple-Roll Combinations    p.43
Military Time-Step (using his triple-roll)    p.46
        (Military Time-Step) + Syncopated Flaps    p.47
        Irish Military Time-Step    p.50
Robinson’s Cramprolls    p.50
Pick-Heel-Toe Combination    p.51
Lancashire Techniques    p.52
Lancashire-Cross Combination    p.53
Cramproll + Heel & Toe-Click Combination    p.58
Lancashire-Walk    p.59
Hop-Lancashire    p.61
One-Side Shuffles
Double-Shuffle (Shuffle-Rolls) / Rolling-Shuffles    p.63
Syncopated Shuffles    p.66
Double-Triple Rhythm    p.67
        > Shuffle-Hop Rolls (One-Side-Shuffle) / > Shuffle-Step Rolls
Wings    
Double-Wings    p.68
Double-Wing + Syncopation    p.69
Double-Wing-Toe Combination    p.70
Double-Wing - Syncopated 3-count phrasing    p.71
Brush-Wing-Change / Toe-Wing-Change    p.73
Taps    
One-Side Taps    p.75
8-count Pattern changing feet    p.76
Bill Robinson Walk    
Broken-Rhythm & Offbeat    p.77
4 counts + 2 counts / 3 counts (3-3-2 Combination & Cross-Phrasing)    p.78
Brush-Hop Combination    p.79
The Scoot-Step    p.80
Break-A-Leg    
Full / Traditional / Syncopated    p.81
Finishing-Break    p.82
Theatrical & Stylish Steps
Back-UP-And-Hit 3-count Combination    p.84
3-3-2 Combination & Digstand    p.86    
Falling-Off-A-Log with dig in front / > with pull    p.87
Goin’ To Church 2    p.88
    Side-Back-Cross    p.89
The Strut    p.90
Charleston-Steps    p.90
The Dusty-Dusty    p.91
Old-Man-Walk    p.92
The Jump & Brush-Jump    p.92
Syncopated 3-3-2 Break & Style    p.93
Twisting Steps
Back-And-Front Twist    p.94
Heel Twist    p.94
Sailor’s Sway    p.95


part 2: The Doc - in chronological order

1
Bill Robinson’s Buck-And-Wing Routines in films

«Mr. & Mrs Sippi»            p.96
from "Dixiana" (RKO, August 16, 1930)
«Medley»                p.102
from "King for A Day" (Vitaphone, 2 reels, June 28, 1934)
«In Old Kentucky»    p.120
20th Century Fox, September 6, 1935
    a) Dialogue-Scene
    b) Setting The Table a cappella (whistling & trumpet imitation)
«Miss Brown To You»    p.125
from "The Big Broadcast Of 1936" (Paramount, Sept. 26, 1935)
«Turkey In The Straw»        p.128
from "The Littlest Rebel" (20th Century-Fox, November 22, 1935)
«One Mile From Heaven»    p.134
(20th Century Fox, Aug 13, 1937)
    In The Street / impromptu stair-dance
    policemen's benefit /  happy end
«Brass Buttons» Bill Robinson & Male Chorus    p.149
from "Just Around The Corner"  (20th Century -Fox, November 11, 1938)
«Up The River»    p.160
from «Up The River» (20th Century Fox, December 9, 1938)
«Let's Scuffle»        p.168
(soundie, 1942)
«Stormy Weather»
from  (20th Century Fox, July 21, 1943)
    «Yeah Man» Sand Dance    p.179
    «Time Step» Bill Robinson & Kids    p.183
    «Jive Talk with Cab»    p.184
    «Oh My! Ain't That Something»    p.189

2
Bill Robinson’s Buck-And-Wing live on stage & TV
«Silverball»    p.190
Live performance at Madison Square Garden, New York, January 14, 1929
Fox Movietone News Story 1-726 > outtakes
    a) A Cappella Routine > two versions    p.192
    b) I Can't Give You Anything But Love    p.203
«Stars In Garden 1931»    p.211
Salvation Army benefit at Madison Square Garden.
Live performance filmed on May 26, 1931
«Rooftop»    p.216
Rudy Vallee home movie, early 1930s. Filmed on a rooftop, no sound. 2 routines
«The Hot Mikado»    p.229
(Gilbert & Sullivan (Broadhurst Theatre /  New York World’s Fair 1939/40
Amateur short film in (color, no sound)
«Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye»    p.231
US TV, 1949)

not yet identified:
Bill Robinson dancing in the street
from the DVD «Blues Masters» (Rhino) / TC 00:36:43    p.234
«Stair Dance»
unidentified footage from the documentary "It Just Happened"    p.235
«Chesterfield»    p.237
footage included in a 1952 TV doc  (unidentified TV footage from Historic Films)


3
Buck-And-Wing-Step in other styles

Stair Dance «Harlem Is Heaven»    p.238
(Herald Pictures, May 27, 1932)
Bill Robinson & Girl Chorus «a new comedy opening»    p.242
from “Harlem Is Heaven” RKO, May 27, 1932)
Bill Robinson & The Black Orchids «The Bill Robinson Stomp»    p.244
very probably from "Harlem Is Heaven"  (Herald Pictures, May 27, 1932)
Bill Robinson & The Black Orchids «The Bill Robinson Stomp»    p.256
from “King For A Day” (Vitaphone, June 28, 1934) DVD Warner Archive Collection
Bill Robinson & Shirley Temple «Oh Susannah»    p.260
Question – Answer Routine
from “The Little Colonel” (20th Century Fox, Feb. 22, 1935) DVD
Stair Dance from «The Little Colonel»    p.263
(20th Century Fox, Feb. 22, 1935) DVD
«Hooray For Love»
(RKO, June 14, 1935)
    Bill Robinson & Jeni LeGon «Living In A Great Big Way»    p.265
    «Got A Snap In My Fingers» (Living In A Great Big Way)    p.268
    Bill Robinson & Jeni LeGon  «Hooray For Love»    p.271
Bill Robinson & Shirley Temple «Organ Grinder’s Swing»    p.272
from “The Littlest Rebel” (20th Century Fox, Nov 22, 1935) DVD
Shirley Temple & 2 Black Boys «He Was A Dandy»    p.275
from “Dimples” (20th Century Fox, Oct. 20, 1936)
Café Metropole: Softshoe Rhythm-Dance    p.277
(20th Century Fox, Sept 17, 1937) deleted scene
Robinson & Temple «The Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers»    p.278
from «Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm» (20th Century Fox, May 11, 1938)
«A Cappella Stair-Dance»    p.282
from «Up The River» (20th Century Fox, December 9, 1938)
«By An Old Southern River»    p.285
(Soundie,1942)
«Drum-Routine» Softshoe Rhythm-Dance    p.286
from «Stormy Weather» (20th Century Fox, July 21,1943)
«I Can't Give You Anything But Love»    p.288
from «Stormy Weather» (20th Century Fox, July 21,1943)


4
Robinson’s Style performed by other dancers

a / complete routines on film

«Brookinson & Van»    p.289
from «Brookinson & Van» (British Pathe, June 21, 1937)
unidentified black dancers «Gang War»    p.294
(Million Dollar Productions, March 29,1940)
Lorraine Krueger «Buck Routine»    p.296
from «Career Girl» (RPC Pictures, Jan. 11, 1944)
Sammy Davis Jr. «Lady Be Good»    p.300
«Will Mastin Trio» at HistoricFilms: «Ed Sullivan, 8/12/51 (from AS-346)»
Bill Bailey «Bill Robinson Tap»        p.305
from a Studio Film (1955) PC (DVD)
Pearl Bailey «Robinson-Chorus»    p.313
(1965, US-TV Live Performance)
Sammy Davis Jr. «Doin’ The New Low Down»    p.316
from the documentary «The Magic Of Dance» with Margot Fonteyn (BBC, 1979)

b / bits & pieces on film
Girl Chorus «Rio Rita»    p.318
(RKO, September 15, 1929) DVD
unidentified tap duo (m, bl) «New York Nights»    p.319
(Joseph E. Schenck Prod., December 28, 1929)
Ann Pennington «Ann Pennington»    p.320
from "x" (RKO, 19xx)
2 black Boys «Music Rackett»    p.320
Vitaphone, June,1930 (Vitaphone Production Reel #1004)
Sammy Davis Jr. «Rufus Jones for President»    p.321
(Vitaphone, September 9, 1933)
unidentified black Boy «Sweet Georgia Brown»    p.323
from «Carnival Day» (Vitaphone, January 11, 1936)
The Nicholas Brothers «Don’t Gamble With Love»    p.325
(Columbia, February 28, 1936)
Charley Chase & Rosina Lawrence «Song-And-Dance»    p.326
from «On The Wrong Trek» (April 18, 1936)
Eleanore Whitney & Louis DaPron «The Swing Tap»    p.327
from «Three Cheers For Love» (Paramount, June 26, 1936)
Jimmie & Nora Bell «Captain Blue Blood»    p.329    
(Vitaphone, February 3, 1937)
Bo Jinkins «Buck-Routine»    p.329    
from «Big Fella» (British Lion Films, UK, June 16,  1937)    
The Nicholas Brothers «Calling All Stars»    p.330
(Pathescope, British Lion,1937)
The Stevens Sisters «Broken Strings»    p.334
(Goldport Productions,1940)
Alston & Young    p.338
from «Murder With Music» (Century Productions, 1941)
Charles ‘Snowball’ Whittier «1930s Rhythm / Buck Routine»    p.339
from «Is Everybody Happy» (Universal, September 3, 1941)        
Bill Bailey «Takin’ A Chance On Love»    p.344
from «Cabin In The Sky» (MGM, April 9,1943)
Tip, Tap and Toe «Go Cowboy»    p.344
from «Honeymoon Lodge» (1943) ?
Juanita Pitts «Rhythm-Routine»    p.345
from «It Happened In Harlem» (1945)
Eddie Cantor «My How Time Goes By»    p.346
from «If You Knew Susie» (RKO, February 7, 1948)
Debbie Reynolds «At The Barre»    p.348
«Give A Girl A Break» MGM (1953)
The Ray Malone dancers (trio) «Toast Of The Colgate Town»    p.348
Episode #5.26, May 8, 1955
John Bubbles «The Steve Allen Show»    p.349
from «The Steve Allen Show» Episode 13.26 (NBC, March 23, 1958)
John Bubbles «Me And My Shadow»    p.350
from «The American Musical Theatre Reviews» by American Musical Theatre (1960)
Ann Miller & Ray Bolger «Puttin’ On The Ritz»    p.353
from «The Bell Telephone Hour» - # 8.13 «Music Of The Movies» (March 13, 1966)
Arthur Duncan «Give My Regards To Broadway»    p.353
from The Lawrence Welk Show «Salute to Kathy Lennon» (March 5, 1966)
Arthur Duncan «Ring Those Christmas Bells»    p.354
from The Lawrence Welk Show «Christmas Reunion» (December 24, 1966)
Arthur Duncan «Uncle Remus»    p.355
from The Lawrence Welk Show «Salute to Walt Disney» (January 28, 1967)
Arthur Duncan «Hooray For Hollywood»    p.357
from The Lawrence Welk Show «The California Show» (June 1, 1968)
Arthur Duncan «San Antonio Rose»    p.358
The Lawrence Welk Show - Roses (June 12, 1971)
Arthur Duncan «Golden Slippers»    p.359
from The Lawrence Welk Show «Riverboat Show » (ABC, October 8, 1971
Arthur Duncan «Walkin’ The Floor Over You»    p.360
from The Lawrence Welk Show (1972)
Arthur Duncan «My Grandfather’s Clock»    p.361
from a Lawrence Welk Show (1979)
Arthur Duncan «My Kind Of Town»    p.362
The Lawrence Welk Show - Movie Songwriters (November 7, 1981)
Cook / Hines / Gaines «Sweet Georgia Brown»    p.362
«Black Broadway» Off-Broadway Production
Harold Nicholas «Buck-Solo a cappella»    p.363
    a) TV-SPECIAL 1982 PC DVD «American TV & Concert Clips»
    b) from a Live-Performance (Military Time-Step only)
    from the documentary "The Cotton Club Comes To The Ritz (BBC, 1985)
Harold Nicholas «Buck-Solo a cappella»    p.365
from an Apollo-Theatre Show
Harold Nicholas «Buck-Solo a cappella»    p.366
from «Sammy Davis Jr. Kennedy Center Honors» (1987)
Maceo Anderson  «Buck Time-Step»    p.367
from «Tap Dancing» TV-DOC(DVD)
Sammy Davis Senior «Liza»    p.367
US TV-Show presented by Milton Berle
Louis DaPron «The Ace Of Taps»    p.369
DVD «Tappin' With The Masters» (Rusty Frank, 2006) / TC 1'30        
    a) Avalon Tap
    b) Buck Chorus (1981, Live Performance) 1’05'30
Sammy Davis Jr. «Yankee Doodle Dandy»    p.371
presented by Bob Hope, July 4, 1976 (?)

5
The Oral Tradition
how black & white dancers remembered his style

This section includes all the routines I learned personally from different sources. The Chair-Dance Routines as well as the Routine done by Honi Coles & the Copasetics have been researched and published separately.

a / complete routines
«Doin'The New Low Down»        p.372
not yet identified black source: Maceo Anderson (?)
Stanley Kahn «Doin' The New Low Down»    p.378
(set to Bill Robinson's recording) as remembered by Sam Weber
Henry LeTang «Doin’ The New Low Down»    p.387
as learned by the author
Henry LeTang «I'm So Wild About Harry»            p.398
Leon Collins: 2 Robinson-Routines    p.399
as learned by the author
Carnell Lyons «Plain Dance»    p.405
as learned by the author
Foster Johnson: Robinson-Routine    p.414
as learned by the author with Linda Sohl-Donnell

b / bits & pieces
Chuck Green «Celebrity Tap»    p.415
as learned by the author in workshops in Europe1994/95
Chuck Green «Bill Robinson Dance»    p.416
(New York, 13-19 jan, 1995) (chair dance)
Joe Sterling «Buck-Routine»    p.417
«Passing On The Buck’N’Wing» presented by Josh Hilberman (DVD)


6 / Bill Robinson’s Buck Dancing in Tap Books
Nick Castle «How To Tap Dance»    p.418
1948
Al Gilbert «I Want To Be Happy» Training Aid N° 49    p.419
Danny Hoctor «Graded Exercises For Tap Dancing»    p.421
Dance Records Inc. (1971)
Jimmy Sutton «Fascinatin’ Rhythms»    p.428
Sam Enterprises, 1984


7 / Research
Back-Up-And-Hit 3-count combination    p.429
The Modern Minstrel Maidens «The Watermelon Dance»    
film not yet identified
Kenneth Burchill «Step Dancing»    
Isaac Pitman & Sons, London, 1936
One-Side Shuffles    p.431
Ina Ray Hutton «Truckin'»    
from «Accent On Girls» (Paramount, December 27, 1935)    
Ina Ray Hutton «Doin' The Susie-Q»
from «Swing, Hutton, Swing» (Paramount, May 7, 1937)
Double-Wing-Toe Combination    p.432    

8 / The tap-rhythm from Bill Robinson’s recordings
«Doin' The New Low Down»    p.438
Brunswick 6520 with Don Redman and his orchestra, rec. December 29, 1932
Brunswick 4535 with Irving Mills Hotsy Totsy Gang, September 4, 1929
«Ain’t Misbehavin’»        p.443
Brunswick 4535 with Irving Mills Hotsy Totsy Gang, September 4, 1929
«Keep A Song In Your Soul»    p.448
«Tap Dancing with Orchestra»Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson
recording: Brunswick Br 6134 (E36833-A-B), NY, March 27, 1931
release: E36441-A-B, NY, April 3, 1931 / reissued as Columbia 30183
«Just A Crazy Song (Hi-hi-hi)»    p.453
Brunswick Br 6134 (E36834-A-B), NY, March 27, 1931
release: E36441-A-B, NY, April 3, 1931
«NBC 1935»            p.457
with Victor Young Orchestra, NBC, 07/12/1935

9
Bill Robinson’s Repertory of Buck-Steps: where & when    p.462

UPDATED:2018-09-05 10:58:42

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