After Seben (1929)

Paramount Famous Lasky Corp.
Director: S. J. Kaufman
Story: James Barton
Cast: James Barton – Emcee and Solo Dancer (in blackface)
“Shorty George” Snowden – Third Male Dancer (Called “Shorty Stump” in the film)

An early sound short of major historical import. Although it is a fictionalized Harlem nightclub scene, it features Chick Webb playing for the major dancers of the Savoy Ballroom. Three  couples perform the latest dance styles of 1929, primarily influenced by partner Charleston. The last couple is Shorty Snowden and his partner Maddie Purnell. They are just terrific, although their style may look dated to us.

Note how Snowden introduces Breakaway steps to the closed-form Charleston and you’ll feel like you are witnessing the birth of the Lindy Hop, which, in fact, was the name that Snowden gave to the dance he was doing. The couple exit exuberantly with a Cake Walk.

Music by the Savoy Ballroom house band, Chick Webb and his Orchestra.

The emcee is white vaudeville comic and eccentric dancer James Barton performing in blackface. He had a long career in film and tv, and is best remembered as Kit Carson in ‘The Time of Your Life’ (1948).


“Shorty George” Snowden
Maddie Purnell