Black History Month

Dancers Breaking Down The Color Line"

By Rusty Frank

High School students try on the dance AND the clothes of the 1940s, 2007


"Steppin' Ahead! -- Dancers Breaking Down The Color Line" is an educational program Rusty Frank created in 2007. This dynamic program brings to life the important force for change that dancers from the 1910's-1940's brought about in breaking down the color barrier in the United States. The program features exciting historic dance clips, live dance performances of Tap Dance & Lindy Hop, and student participation.


Students after Rusty's Vintage Dance Class
Dominguez Hills University 2014


California State University, Dominguez Hills

In February 2013, a unique collaboration was arranged with four departments at CSU Dominquez Hills - Dance, History, Music, and Theatre - for inclusion in my Steppin' Ahead Program. The students joined with me for the presentation to the student body. Throughout February, I worked with the Dance & Theatre Department students, teaching them two historic dances, The Shim Sham and a choreographed Lindy Hop routine. The Music Department's choir prepared and performed "Sing Sing Sing." And the History Department presented an educational display in the lobby of Music and Dance of Central Avenue, L.A.'s African American community of the 1930s-40s. I would highly recommend such a program for any school, as it really brought together the students in learning on an exciting and personal level.

February 2013

Dear Rusty,

Thank you so much for bringing this wonderful program to campus! You were amazing with the audience and brought such talent, warmth and humility, which made our students so comfortable with you both on stage and from the audience.

It was very gratifying to see our vision for collaboration with the students and faculty come together in this dynamic program that brought history alive.

You are truly special.

Laura Talamante
Assistant Professor
Department of History
California State University, Dominguez Hills

Phi Alpha Theta Advisor, Tau Epsilon Chapter
Women's Studies Advisory Board


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