JIG SHOW: Harlem in Havana is a unique documentary directed by Leslie Cunningham, Filmmaker that will be screening as part of THE MEETING OF MACHINES - CASCADIA Dance & Cinema Festival
"Step Right Up, Folks! The last remaining great outdoor troupers are finally telling their stories about one of America’s most successful traveling shows that endured racism, state- sanctioned segregation on the railways and tightening immigration laws to become popular in the 1940s through the 1960s. Also unearthed is the legend of African American millionaire carnival king, Leon Claxton, whose vision, passion and determination produced a stage show that still resonates with wonder today.
A magical journey into the complexities of American entertainment, racial history and family, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton's Harlem in Havana is a compelling hour-long documentary film produced by director Leslie Cunningham who shines a spotlight on her grandfather’s spectacular stage presentation of Black and Cuban music, dance and comedy that played on the world's largest carnival midway for nearly four decades in the early-to mid-20th century.
Historical in nature, the film’s theme is about embracing and learning from the past. The film is situated in images of minstrelsy, early traveling carnival and social revolution that sets the stage for an examination of a little known aspect of Black culture in America- the traveling Jig Show. Just before the rise of television, the American traveling carnival was the pulse of popular culture. The U.S. and Cuba were in good relations. Black and Whites were segregated in the South, and the ‘jig show’ was the place to go to be enticed and entertained by several exotic brown-skin showgirls dancing in an all-black musical revue. A forgotten legacy born out of black-face minstrel, these all-colored human-circuses helped wash away the tar mask, gave dignity back to the stars and took vaudeville and burlesque to new heights of popularity on the North American midway... "
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