Given that a child she obtained dancing training off an effective Mrs. Thorp in the midtown Manhattan. As much as 1897, shortly after graduating off Thorp’s moving college or university, she toured briefly that have Black colored Patti’s Troubadours. Good girlfriend greeting her to help you model getting a publicity having Bert Williams and you can George Walker, that has merely obtained a knock within vaudeville introduction from the Koster and you may Bial’s Songs Hallway. She agreed to design toward post and you can subsequently registered this new men so you can dancing on the cakewalk finale. Shortly after signing up for John W. Isham’s Octoroon, a good critic into Indianapolis Freeman proclaimed, “I got only observed top girl performer.” That have Sophistication Halliday she shaped the latest sibling dancing work from Overton and you will Halliday. It did because the pair of Honolulu Belles on the Williams and Walkers’ The insurance policy People (1899), and you can after that, Overton started to build just like the a good soloist with an increase of large positions. In the music funny The fresh new Sons regarding Ham (1900) she done and you may danced “Skip Hannah regarding Savannah” and “Best Lady”; plus in their second version, “Society” and “Gleaming Ruby” hence lead their unique jubilant recognition. James Weldon Johnson blogged that she “had a decreased-pitched voice with an organic sob to they, and this she knew utilizing that have informing effect from inside the placing more a tune” (Johnson 1933). Tom Fletcher remembered their particular once the a musician which did ragtime musical and you can ballads just as well; and as a dancer “just who could do everything, with no amount if it is dollar-and-side, cakewalk, or even some kind of grotesque dancing . . . she lent this new abilities a nice gracefulness of movement unsurpassed of the anyone” (Fletcher 1954).
During the 1910, she joined the brand new Wise Place, a black colored theatrical company, and you may appeared in Their Prize brand new Barber (1911)
Toward Summer twenty two, 1899, following the closing out of A fortunate Coon, the ragtime tunes revealed by Ann Charters just like the “an effective hodge-podge of the things throughout the ‘coon’ line of money-dance and you can ragtime melodies to help you options regarding grand opera,” Overton hitched George Walker; their union perform transform and you will intensify the fresh cakewalk from a center African-American men and women dance with the a black colored modernist expression, a top art well worth getting performed ahead of royalty, to the white top-notch, as well as on the brand new concert stage.
You to night when you find yourself onstage, George Walker, playing new role off Bud Jenkins, turned into sick
Williams and Walker’s Dahomey (1903) is actually one of the first black colored musicals to learn the fresh new cakewalk’s sales. With it, Aida (she altered the spelling out-of their own title of Ada in order to Aida, the name of one’s Haitian lwa out-of fertility) played Rosetta Lightfoot having a presented solo, “I wish to Become a bona fide Woman tavata katolinen sinkku naisia,” and also the “Cakewalk Finale,” partnered of the their own partner. “New range, the newest elegance, the newest hoping ecstasy ones dancers, which curved over backward up until its heads almost moved the ground, a feat demanding an amazing number of fuel, the enthusiastic prancing, nearly during the slow motion, have-not been equaled in this particular revel, not to mention surpassed,” blogged Carl Van Vechten (Van Vechten 1974). Dahomey is brought to London, in which it was demonstrated within a command show ahead of King Edward VII in the Buckingham Castle. British high society adopted the brand new Royal Family with an excellent pouring love to possess cakewalking. The company returned to Nyc with a new types of new musical named When you look at the Dahomey, and this open during the Huge Opera (1904).
Into the Williams and you will Walker’s 2nd let you know, Abyssinia (1906), Overton Walker is actually both a dancer together with show’s choreographer. She are next appeared from inside the and you may staged the sounds quantity to possess Bandanna Home (1908). His periods was indeed afterwards recognized given that syphilis. During the 1909 he left the tell you, and his character try rewritten getting Overton Walker, which donned his flashy outfits and you will performed his number, in addition to his big song, “Bon-bon Buddie.” Along with her partner’s position slowly deteriorating, and you can faced with in which her upcoming place, she chose to not ever replace their own offer having Williams and you may Walker and you will instead registered brand new shed off Bob Cole and J. Rosamonde Johnson’s The brand new Reddish Moonlight (1909) in which she try looked in two sounds wide variety: “Pheobe Brownish” and you will “Pickaninny Months,” dance buck-and-wing with the chorus. She second unwrapped in the The fresh York’s American Theatre that have an effective vaudeville operate offering yet another moving, the new “Kara Kara,” otherwise dancing l’Afrique.