African-American dance has developed within Black American communities in everyday spaces, rather than in studios, schools or companies. These dances are usually centered on folk and social dance practice, though performance dance often supplies complementary aspects to this. Placing great value on improvisation, these dances are characterized by ongoing change and development. There are a number of notable African-American modern dance companies using African-American cultural dance as an inspiration, amongst these are the Whiteys Lindy Hoppers, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Lula Washington Dance Theatre. Unlike European-American dance, African-American dance was not taxed in the fields of Europe where it began and has not been presented in theatrical productions by generations of kings, tzars, and states. Instead, it lost its best dancers to the draft and started requiring taxes from establishments in the form of a federal excise tax on dance halls enacted in 1944. Dance halls continue to be taxed throughout the country while dance studios are not, and African-American dance companies statistically receive less than taxpayer money than European-Americans. However, Hollywood and Broadway have provided wonderful opportunities for African-American artists to share their work and for the public to support them. Michael Jackson and Beyonce are the most well-known African-American dancers.
The Greater Chesapeake area encompassing Virginia, Maryland, and much of North Carolina was the earliest and perhaps most influential location of the black-while cultural interchange that produced African-American dance. :19 Captive Africans from numerous societies in several African regions began pouring into the area as slaves from the late 17th to the late 18th centuries. Given their cultural heterogeneity, including music and dance, they mostly likely learned to dance together by drawing on the grammar of culture shared across much of Western and Central Africa. :21 Something