Their talents and tenacity helped shape an era and change history.
BEEN RICH ALL MY LIFE offers the rare opportunity to see a century of history through the eyes of the last surviving dancers of Harlem's 1930s' golden age. These spirited women and their stories are accompanied by a treasure trove of archival film and photos, as well as a music score spanning eight decades of evolving jazz styles.
"They recall their lives with pride, sly humor and effervescent charm. The casual dignity with which they address the difficulties they overcame is no less awe-inspiring than their physical accomplishments. They worked with every major star in Harlem, danced in the first black USO tour, and even led a major strike at the Apollo Theater that was instrumental in establishing the American Guild of Variety Artists." (New York Sun)
“Rarely have I seen such splendid intertwining of subtexts of gender, race, ability, age, and class. 'Been Rich All My Life' is an invaluable tool for anyone teaching diversity studies and a must see for those who delight in oral history. Here are stories you won’t find in textbooks, from women whose lives inspire on all levels.” (Dr. Rebecca Sperling, Marymount Manhattan College, New York)
Extra features on the DVD and streaming on Kanopy include an in-depth conversation with the composer, an interview with the director, and a class with Fay Ray teaching step-by-step how to dance the Shim Sham Shimmy.
• High Schools and Universities
Documentary Film; Dance; Music; Women Studies;
African American Studies; Harlem Renaissance;
Women in the Arts; Race & Class; Sociology; Aging & Gerontology; Health; Physical Therapy
• Health Professionals
• Performing Arts Professionals