Blues dance is intrinsically linked to the music and rooted in history. Although the dance, like the music, has changed over the years we believe that to fully understand blues dance you must learn about and respect the history of the music and the dance and the culture from which it originated. Here are some of our favourite books, films and documentaries to help you discover more about the blues. This list is by no means complete, but we hope that it will be a starting point for you and help to inspire you to learn more…

Books about music, history and culture:
– Blues: The Complete Story by Bob Allen and Julia Rolf (Also available in Italian and Spanish. Disponibile in italiano. Disponible en español)
– All Music Guide to Blues by Chris Woodstra, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, and Vladimir Bogdanov
– Blues People by LeRoi Jones
– Stomping the Blues by Albert Murray
– Blues Legacies and Black Feminism by Angela Y. Davis
– Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920s by Daphne Duval Harrison
– A Bad Woman Feeling Good: Blues and the Women Who Sing Them by Buzzy Jackson
– The Land Where The Blues Began by Alan Lomax
– The Devil’s Music: A History of The Blues by Giles Oakley
– The Language of the Blues from Alcorub to Zuzu by Debra Devi
– The Blues: A Visual History by Mike Evans
– Escaping The Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues by Elijah Wald

Books about dance, history and culture:
– Jookin’: The rise of social dance formations in African-American culture by Katrina Hazzard-Gordon
– Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader edited by Julie Malnig
– Black Dance From 1619 to Today by Lynne Fauley Emery
– Black Dance in America: A History Through Its People by James Haskins
– Steppin’ on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance (Folklore and Society) by Jacqui Malone


Documentaries about the music
– Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues (7 films)
– Jazz by Ken Burns (10 episodes)
– Wynton at Harvard: Chapters 1-25 (available on YouTube)
– American Blues Folk Revival (various editions available)

Online Resources

Films showing the culture surrounding blues
– Bessie (HBO)
– Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Netflix)
– The Colour Purple (directed by Steven Spielberg)
– Cadillac Records (directed by Darnell Martin)


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