In celebration of African American History Month, the Central Avenue Dance Ensemble will present the multimedia dance performance entitled The History of Black Dance in America Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 23 through 25 at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club.

The History of Black Dance in America is returning for a second year after performing to a sold-out audience in 2011. Performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23-25 at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, 1210 Fourth St., Santa Monica.

Directed by choreographer, performer, and historian Ron Parker, the show will be a retrospective of African and African-American inspired social dances that have been popularly danced in the United States from the 1800s to today.

Historical dances included will be Zulu, Work Songs, Cakewalk, Buck Dance, Black Bottom, Charleston, Lindy Hop, Foxtrot, and African inspired Latin-American dances. Post-Swing era dances include “fad dances” such as Detroit Ballroom and Chicago Style Step.

Founded in 2003, the Central Avenue Dance Ensemble works to perpetuate and promote American vernacular dances of the 20th century.

According to the ensemble, the goal of the History of Black Dance in America is to educate the public about these dances in an exciting and entertaining way. While most of these dances are recognized as an integral part of American culture, many Americans do not know of their history, a spokesperson for the ensemble says.

For example, the Cakewalk began as a plantation dance performed by slaves to mimic high society whites, according to the ensemble. The dance was so amusing that plantation owners held competitions, and the winning slaves would receive cake as their prize – hence the name, “Cakewalk.”

This story and more will be told through live performances and narrated video, starting with the plantation dances of the slavery era through today.

General admission for the show is $22.50, preferred seating is $27.50, VIP seating is $45, or tickets for seniors and students are $17.50. Tickets may be purchased online at, or at the door.

Proceeds from the performances will benefit the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club.