Ada Overton Walker was born on Valentines Go out inside 1880 inside Brand new York’s Greenwich Community

Once the a baby she received dance education out-of a Mrs. Thorp inside midtown New york. To 1897, immediately following graduating off Thorp’s dancing college, she toured briefly with Black Patti’s Troubadours. Good girlfriend welcome their particular in order to design to own an advertising with Bert Williams and you can George Walker, who’d simply obtained a bump within their vaudeville first on Koster and you may Bial’s Audio Hall. She agreed to design into the post and you can after that joined this new dudes to dancing on cakewalk finale. Immediately after joining John W. Isham’s Octoroon, an excellent critic toward Indianapolis Freeman stated, „I experienced just noticed a girl dancer.“ Having Grace Halliday she shaped brand new sibling dance operate away from Overton and Halliday. They performed since the group of Honolulu Belles on the Williams and you can Walkers‘ The insurance policy Players (1899), and you can after that, Overton started to build since the a beneficial soloist with more nice opportunities. On the musical comedy The brand new Sons of Ham (1900) she carried out and you can danced „Miss Hannah out of Savannah“ and you will „Best Woman“; and in its next version, „Society“ and you may „Gleaming Ruby“ and that put their unique jubilant acclaim. James Weldon Johnson had written one she „got a reduced-pitched sound which have a natural sob in order to it, and that she understood making use of which have telling perception in putting over a song“ (Johnson 1933). Tom Fletcher appreciated their just like the an artist which performed ragtime tunes and you will ballads just as well; so when a dancer „exactly who you are going to carry out every little thing, with no matter when it try buck-and-side, cakewalk, if not some type of grotesque dancing . . . she borrowed this new overall performance a cool gracefulness of movement unparalleled of the anyone“ (Fletcher 1954).

Into the 1910, she entered the Smart Lay, a black colored theatrical organization, and starred in His Award this new Hairdresser (1911)

Towards the June twenty two, 1899, adopting the closure off A lucky Coon, the newest ragtime tunes described because of the Ann Charters since „good hodge-podge of all things about ‚coon‘ line of buck-dance and you may ragtime tunes to help you selections regarding grand opera,“ Overton partnered George Walker; their relationship create transform and you will elevate the fresh new cakewalk of a core African-American visitors dance to your a black modernist expression, a leading art worthy of getting performed just before royalty, for the light professional, and on new performance phase.

You to definitely evening while onstage, George Walker, to tackle the fresh new part out of Bud Jenkins, became unwell

Williams and Walker’s Dahomey (1903) was among the first black musicals to see the fresh cakewalk’s conversion. Involved, Aida (she changed the fresh spelling off their title from Ada so you’re able to Aida, title of your own Haitian lwa from fertility) played Rosetta Lightfoot with a featured solamente, „I wish to End up being a bona fide Lady,“ plus the „Cakewalk Finale,“ partnered by the their own partner. „The fresh line, the newest sophistication, the brand new assured ecstasy ones performers, whom bent more than backwards up until its minds almost handled a floor, a task requiring a great amount of fuel, its keen prancing, almost in the slow-motion, have never come equaled in this revel, let-alone exceeded,“ penned Carl Van Vechten (Van Vechten 1974). Dahomey was taken to London area, in which it actually was displayed at an order overall performance ahead of Queen Edward VII during the Buckingham Castle. British high-society observed the new Royal Family members that have an effective gushing love having cakewalking. The company returned to New york with a new sorts of the fresh new sounds entitled Within the Dahomey, which exposed in the Huge Opera (1904).

In the Williams and Walker’s 2nd show, Abyssinia (1906), Overton Walker are both a dancer together with show’s choreographer. She are 2nd looked in the and you can staged the audio amounts to possess Bandanna Property (1908). Their symptoms were afterwards detected just like the syphilis. For the 1909 he kept the brand new reveal, and his part try rewritten to possess Overton Walker, exactly who donned their flashy outfits and you can performed his number, and additionally his significant song, „Bon bon Buddie.“ Along with her partner’s standing much slower deteriorating, and you will confronted with in which her future lay, she chosen never to replace their unique deal that have Williams and you will Walker and you may rather inserted the brand new throw of Bob Cole and you can J. Rosamonde Johnson’s The newest Red Moonlight (1909) where she is actually searched in two audio numbers: „Pheobe Brownish“ and you can „Pickaninny Weeks,“ moving buck-and-side to the chorus. She next open during the The brand new York’s Western Movie theater which have a great vaudeville act offering an alternate dancing, the fresh „Kara Kara,“ or moving l’Afrique.