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When he was 16, Covan, who had been preparing for a year, entered. "They didn't use the orchestra," he said, "just one man on the stage with a banjo. He would play two beats, bop bop, and you were on. "Covan watched all the dancers before him open with the time step, but he decided "to go for the meat right now" by opening with "wings, a roll, a grab off and a double wing. Vans Dark Blue Gum Sole

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"but no other country does it. Only in America. It came out of the plantations, and it belongs Vans High Cut Brown

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nterview. "He couldn't even teach me the time step and told me I'd never learn how to dance. "Covan then met "Friendless" George, a dancer with a deformed leg. "He gave me the only real dancing lessons I ever had. He could do a time step with that one good leg. "The young Covan built a practice floor in his basement and eventually danced his way into a troupe that toured the West. "When we got back from California, I could dance a lot better than Harry," he said. The pinnacle for young black dancers then was a Chicago dance contest that attracted entrants from throughout the Midwest.

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"My grandfather used to teach people from the San Fernando Valley, Ventura, Oxnar.

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"He won the contest and $100, and his friends carried him on their shoulders "all the way to State Street. But that wasn't the main thing. The main thing was that everybody knew I was the greatest dancer in Chicago.

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Vans Disney

"Covan and his partner, Leonard Ruffin, became one of the first black dance acts to be booked into New York City's Palace Theater, and he also appeared in a long series of hit musicals. "I've never been any place in the world where they didn't like tap dancing," Covan said, Vans Gilbert Crockett Pro Black

to us. "Covan invented an unusual routine called "around the world with no hands," performed in a Vans Disney squat with the legs kicking out in a circular motion. Eleanor Powell brought him to MGM to teach dancing to pupils, ranging from Debbie Reynolds to Mae West to Gregory Peck. Encouraged by West, he opened the Willie Covan Dance Studio in Los Angeles in the mid 1930s and trained students there for 35 years.

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