This 102-Year-Old Harlem Renaissance Chorus Dancer Seeing Herself Dance Will Put A Pep In Your Two-Step
In the modern day, it's difficult to imagine never having seen a recording of yourself at one point or another, whether it's in the form of embarrassing dance recitals from your childhood or Ice Bucket Challenges from last summer. Somehow, however, Alice Barker made it to being 102 years old before seeing her days as a Harlem Renaissance chorus dancer for the first time last year. Luckily, because this is 2015, there were cameras around this time to capture her reaction. Side note to my fellow criers: now is the time to find your trusty tissue box. According to the Daily Dot, Barker danced at clubs like the Apollo, Zanzibar Club, and Cotton Club with the likes of Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in the 1930s and 40s. (I am suddenly very conscious of the fact that the closest I've ever gotten to Sinatra in my profession was using a GIF from Guys and Dolls once.) Although she worked in film and TV, including several of the musical shorts known as "soundies," she never got the chance to watch herself dance until David Schuff, along with Mark Cantor of jazz-on-film.com, came across three soundies featuring Barker last year. Shortly after she celebrated her 102nd birthday, Schuff visited her at the nursing home with the ultimate throwback Thursday: footage from her time as a chorus girl.
The creators of the video wrote in the video's description that they're happy to pass on any fan mail you may be inspired to write after the video. Even if you're not in the mood for snail mail, they're even reading some of the nicest YouTube comments to Barker, so it can't hurt to make your appreciation known. Unsurprisingly, Barker herself summed it up the best. "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing," she said during her second viewing. Once a chorus girl, always a chorus girl.
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