John Diamond (dancer)
John Diamond (1823 – October 20, 1857), aka Jack or Johnny, was an Irish-American dancer and blackface minstrel performer. Diamond entered show business at age 17 and soon came to the attention of circus promoter P. T. Barnum. In less than a year, Diamond and Barnum had a falling-out, and Diamond left to perform with other blackface performers. Diamond's dance style merged elements of English, Irish, and African dance. For the most part, he performed in blackface and sang popular minstrel tunes or accompanied a singer or instrumentalist. Diamond's movements emphasized lower-body movements and rapid footwork with little movement above the waist.
Diamond was most famous for a series of challenge dances. He regularly advertised that he could defeat all comers in a dancing contest, and he made good on his boasts. However, Diamond soon came to the attention of the dancer whom Barnum had replaced him with, a young black man known as Master Juba. Diamond and Juba fought dance-offs through the mid-1840s; records indicate that Juba won all but one. Accordingly, historian Robert Toll calls Diamond the "greatest white minstrel dancer".
Other articles related to "diamond":
... Diamondrepertoire was a mixture of African American, English, and Irish steps ... Diamondperformed in blackface, but some of his dances were strictly British or Irish in origin and were danced without makeup ... Diamonds dances were characterized by little upper-body movement and rapid footwork ...
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