Eubie Blake

Read Lindy Hop in Harlem: The Role of Social Dancing to discover how dancing reflected Harlem's social climate.

 

"Shorty George" Snowden dates unknown
Dancer

 

 
 
 

 


The Kennedy Center
ARTSEDGE
Marco Polo
This resource was created in March 2003 by ARTSEDGE. All rights reserved.
ARTSEDGE is a project of the Education Department of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
and is a member of the MarcoPolo Partnership
Watch Shorty George dance to the song "Tiger Rag."
Known for his comically intricate footwork, George Snowden reigned as the top dancer at the Savoy Ballroom from its opening in 1927 until the mid-1930s. His frantic, improvisational dance style brought him immense popularity—as well as the title “King of the Savoy.”

Snowden’s small stature (he was barely five feet tall) was the genesis for that not-too-original moniker, “Shorty George.” His signature move was to bend his knees and swing them from side to side, exaggerating the fact that he was close to the floor. Big-band pioneer Count Basie honored Snowden’s distinctive style of dance with the tune “Shorty George.”

Snowden formed a dance troupe called the “Shorty George Trio,” which performed at the Cotton Club, Smalls' Paradise, and other music meccas throughout Harlem. This sudden leap to professional status inspired many fellow dancers to organize troupes of their own. The clear standout among them was Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, credited with bringing swing dance to movie screens—and to the masses—in the 1930s.


 

 

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Like drummer Chick Webb, he was referred to as the "King of the Savoy."
He danced regularly at the Savoy Ballroom, the top dance venue of its time.
He is credited with naming and popularizing the Lindy Hop.
His dancing sparked the formation of troupes like Herbert White's Lindy Hoppers.
 
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