Come on and hear! Come on and hear! Al-ex-an-der's rag-time band!
Vaudeville was a entertainment form popular in the U.S in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It consisted of typically 10-15 unrelated acts featuring magicians, acrobats, comedians, trained animals, singers and dancers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for Dexter and Max!
Bert Williams was the highest paid and most popular African American performer of his time. Many of his routines included blackface, and he often played stereotypical roles, such as a villain or a dumb sidekick. Later in his career he was the first African American to take a lead role on Broadway.
Emma Carcus was the daughter of an opera singer and a German immigrant to America. She began her singing career working in a hotel and caught her big break in a production at the New York Theatre. She also was the first to popularize Irving Berlin's "Alexander Ragtime Band".
I'm so glad we caught Dexter's act. He always has been my favorite monkey.
A large part of Vaudeville were various trained animals, from monkeys and dogs to horses and even elephants. These animals were taught many ridiculous tricks such as dancing or standing on one another. These acts were inspired by the Circus' rise in popularity and continued to support the art of animal training.
Ruth Dennis was trained in the arts of dance from a young age, including the Delsarte technique and ballet lessons from a famous Italian ballerina. She later worked as a skirt dancer in vaudeville houses in New York City. She was recognized for her skills and later was apart of many productions.
Vaudeville shows would open and close with the weakest acts and would last for hours. Audiences could come and go and would often attend for a short period of the show to see their favorite performer’s signature act.