Who Earl "Snakehips" Tucker is, and Why We Love Him

Behind many of our favourite jazz moves are phenomenal dancers who created them.   One of those dancers is Earl Tucker.  An African-American dancer and entertainer also known as the Human Boa Constructor, Earl "Snakehips" Tucker acquired his name via the dance he created in Harlem in the 1920s.  

When Tucker would "slither on stage", the audience would quiet down on the spot, watching and waiting for something sinister to happen. His stare into the audience made them feel like he was coiled up, ready to attack at a pip of a sound. As soon as he had the audiences attention he would snap into his snake hips movements which for the time was very, very risque. His walk was a single tracking movement. As the dance increased in fervor, his hips gained momentum and his hip rolls became bigger and more exaggerated almost appearing to become dislodged from the rest of the body. His stance would tighten and Tucker would start some arm movements starting with a series of claps which would proceed into a Belly Roll, Ripples and Body Waves. Most critics of the day did not know how to publicly describe what he was doing, and those who tried would struggle, so they said little at first. 

Dancers would try to steal and water down the appeal of Tucker's Snake Hips dance, but none came close to the original, there was only one "Snakehips."  Many have said that the Snakehips movement resembles the Boogaloo roll in popping technique.

Have a look! We'll be doing this signature move and more in our Vernacular Jazz Dance Workshop on Saturday April 29. Sign up today.