Buddy Bradley: Choreographing British Film and Theatre

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Buddy Bradley was coaching many stars of Broadway musicals, including Fred and Adele Astaire, Ruby Keeler, and Eleanor Powell. However despite being well known (and well paid) within show business he never received credit for choreographing a show with a white cast in America. In 1930 Buddy was invited to London to choreograph for Jessie Matthews’s show, Ever Green at the Aldephi Theatre for which he received his first choreographic credit. It was a great success for both Jessie and Buddy and in 1934 it was made into his first British musical film, Evergreen, launching him into the emerging English film industry. Buddy staged over thirty musical productions during the 1930s and choreographed a number of British musical films during his thirty-eight years in Britain.

BUDDY BRADLEY (1908 – 1972) – an early black choreographer of British musical film
• Bradley was Henry LeTang’s tap dance teacher
• Bradley was inspired by the “stage dancing” of Eddie Rector and class act style of Jack Wiggins
• Bradley’s dance school in the West End had over 500 students and he influenced a generation of British performers between the 1930s and 1960s including actors John Mills and Audrey Hepburn, and entertainers Bruce Forsyth and Roy Castle
• Bradley is very briefly mentioned as a consultant for the Imperial Society of Teacher’s of Dancing (ISTD) Modern Theatre Dance Branch syllabus

Presentations & Discussions

See also Contextualising Buddy Bradley’s work in British Film (2023)

Presentations available: 15min, 45min, 60min Contact for bookings

Buddy Bradley: Choreographing British Film and Theatre. A presentation by Annette WalkerWEDNESDAY 30 MARCH 2022 1pm-3pm BST

An online presentation for the Guildford School of Acting, University of Surrey with special guest, dance expert panelists: Constance Valis Hill & Jreena Green

Introducing my research on African-American Buddy Bradley to students and guests at the Guildford School of Acting using snippets of his choreographic work in 1930s British film including jazz, tap dance, ballet, modern, social ballroom, modern and musical theatre. The discussion with panel guests delves into what we can learn about his dance work whilst navigating the racial stereotypes within historical context and the invisibilisation of the Africanist perspective in the development of twentieth century, Western European dance.

Hot Jazz Rag, Rhythm & Book logoWEDNESDAY 26 MAY 2021 8pm BST

Hot Jazz Rag Rhythm & Book

Guest presentation with a Q&A for Nikki Santilli’s Rhythm & Book club.

Introducing my research on African-American Buddy Bradley with snippets of his choreographic work in 1930s British film including jazz, tap dance, ballet, modern, social ballroom, modern and musical theatre. With reference to navigating racial stereotypes, analysing historical context and the invisibilisation of the Africanist perspective in the development of twentieth century, Western European dance.

Modes of Capture Symposium 2021, Tap Dance Knowledges Panel, Tap Dance Research Network UK - Jess Murray, Sally Crawford-Shepherd, Trish Melton, Annette WalkerFRIDAY 21 MAY 2021 4pm BST

A 15 minute introductory presentation of my Buddy Bradley research with TAP DANCE KNOWLEDGES – JESS MURRAY AND PANEL + Q&A.

A TDRN UK panel at the Modes of Capture Symposium 2021
By Irish World Academy, University of Limerick, Liz Roche Company & Dublin Dance Festival

This year’s symposium explores the theme of decolonising structures, thinking and embodiment within current modes of dancemaking and documentation.

Buddy Bradley: Choreographing British Film and Theatre, Wed 17 March 2021, by Annette Walker for TDRN UK Online Talk SeriesWEDNESDAY 17 MARCH 2021 7pm GMT

Tap Dance Research Network UK Online Talk Series
With a special guest panel: Andrew Nemr & Diane Hampstead

This TDRN UK Zoom event has now passed.

There is little reference of Buddy’s creative work but Annette Walker has sourced clips of his choreography from several British musical films, including an uncredited, rare glimpse of Buddy himself. There’ll be a presentation about Buddy’s life and work in America and Britain and a closer look at his style through film footage as well as a discussion about his wider influence on dance.



Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance
By Marshall & Jean Stearns
Publisher: Hachette Books (1 Mar. 1994)
New York: Macmillan; London: Collier-Macmillan [1968]

Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History
By Constance Valis Hill
Publisher: Oxford University Press; Illustrated edition (1 Dec. 2014)

Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television
By Stephen Bourne
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.; 2nd edition (1 Nov. 2001)

Deep Are the Roots: Trailblazers Who Changed Black British Theatre
By Stephen Bourne
Publisher: The History Press (2021)

An Inconvenient Black History of British Musical Theatre: 1900 – 1950
By Sean Mayes, Sarah K. Whitfield
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (2021)


Bradley, Robert [nicknamed Buddy; real name Clarence Bradley Epps]
By Stephen Bourne
Publisher: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press (23 September 2004)
Note: access requires subscription

Clarence “Buddy” Bradley [biography]
The Library of Congress > Performing Arts Databases
Accessed: May 2020

Clarence ‘Buddy’ Bradley
Accessed: Sept 2020

Biography by Bruce Eder
Overview & Filmography
Accessed: Dec 2020

Harlem’s “Buddy” Bradley, Tap Dancer And The First African-American To Run A British White Company
Posted on 04/23/2018 by Harlem World Magazine
Accessed: Sept 2020

Buddy Bradley: The Invisible Man of Broadway Brings Jazz Tap to London
By Constance Valis Hill
Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference of Society Dance History Scholars, pp. 77–84. (1992)

Buddy Bradley, Director And Choreographer, Dead
Obituary in The Times
25 July 1972, page 36
Accessed: Jan 2021



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