Jean Idelle, of Coram, credited with breaking color barrier in burlesque dance

Idelle, 85, broke the color barrier, becoming the first black female to perform in whites-only dance clubs in the United States and Canada.

Idelle broke the color barrier, becoming the first black female to perform in whites-only dance clubs in the United States and Canada.

Idelle broke the color barrier, becoming the first black female to perform in whites-only dance clubs in the United States and Canada. (2/9/15)

CORAM - In the world of burlesque dancing in the 1950s, Jean Idelle, of Coram was known as a mover and a shaker.

Idelle broke the color barrier, becoming the first black female to perform in whites-only dance clubs in the United States and Canada.

Every time Idelle took center stage, she braved the dangers of an era where segregation prevailed.

“I was the only black in that all-white show. So they were afraid somebody would kill me. So they gave me plenty of protection since I was the feature attraction,” says Idelle.

Now 85 years old, Idelle serves as a mentor for aspiring dancers.

 

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