(ca. 1825 – ca. 1852 or 1853) was an African American
dancer active in the 1840s. He was one of the first black performers in the United States to play onstage for white audiences and the only one of the era to tour with a white minstrel group
. His real name was believed to be William Henry Lane
, and he was also known as "Boz's Juba
" following Dickens
' graphic description of him in American Notes
, Provincial Theatricals
, 30 July 1848
As a teenager, he began his career in the rough saloons and dance halls of Manhattan
's Five Points
neighborhood, moving on to minstrel shows in the mid-1840s. "Master Juba" frequently challenged and defeated the best white dancers, including the period favorite, John Diamond
. At the height of his American career, Juba's act featured a sequence in which he imitated a series of famous dancers of the day and closed by performing in his own style.
In 1848 "Boz's Juba" traveled to London
with the Ethiopian Serenaders
, an otherwise white minstrel troupe. Boz's Juba became a sensation in Britain for his dance style. He was a critical favorite and the most written about performer of the 1848 season. Nevertheless, an element of exploitation
followed him through the British Isles, with writers treating him as an exhibit on display. Records next place Juba in both Britain and America in the early 1850s. His American critics were less kind, and Juba faded from the......