Harlem Renaissance’s Anise Boyer, 1930’s

June 22, 2014

anise boyer

“… the cutest brown skin girl in Harlem.” – Walter Winchell 

Pretty as a picture Anise Boyer went from being Harlem’s most popular chorine to becoming apart of America’s number one dance team Anise and Aland in the glorious Harlem era in the 1930s. Boyer was considered a child prodigy when it came to dancing. She started her career as a chorus girl during the depression at the famous Cotton Club at the age of 15. She danced alongside Lena Horne in the chorus line. Anise gained notoriety and popularity swiftly. Walter Winchell called Anise “the cutest brown skin girl in Harlem.” Quite a few times times Anise was voted the most prettiest Cotton Club dancer over Horne by Winchell. Anise was a little lady who always looked younger then she was. She didn’t weigh over 100 lbs. but as little as she was that’s how much of a big talent and big personality she had. She was a powerhouse performer that exuded charm in her stage presence and in her dance that would outshine the bigger in size and in fame on stage so she was never overlooked. Anise became an instant favorite with her baby face beauty, sweetness, petite figure, energetic personality and the talent of knowing how to dance any dance. She danced at Harlem’s most popular nightclubs and at the Apollo theater and then ventured outside of Harlem and danced at some of the U.S. and Europe’s prominent cabarets, nightclubs, and theaters.

51gXXSMqK9LAt the age of 18 Anise starred in “Harlem Is Heaven,” from 1932, she played Jean Stratton, a southern good girl who wants to be a dancing star travels to Harlem, stranded with nothing, she gives the famous tree of hope in Harlem a stroke and gets a job with help from legendary Bill Bojangles Robinson, who plays himself, through his help she escapes a scoundrel and finds true love. The movie seem like a true story of Anise Boyer’s climb to fame. In the mid-1930s Anise teamed up with Alan Dixon and they became known as Anise and Aland, and they were called the best of the adagio dancers because of their exuberance and athletic dancing. Their dancing varied from tap, ballroom, swing, jazz dancing and sometimes they put it all together for a spectacular performance. In 1936, Anise and Aland were two of the stars of Lew Leslie “Blackbirds of 1936” that opened in London and they received excellent reviews for their versatile dancing. Anise and Aland stayed together until the early 1940s. In the 1940s, Anise star started to dim. Anise danced with other male partners but didn’t achieve the same success as she did with Alan Dixon. She appeared in the papers again in the late 1940’s when she married actress Louise Beaver’s husband and appeared in the papers again where it was said she was working as a secretary after her dancing partner Archie Savage (stage and movie dancer and choreographer) was jailed and serving a term for stealing expensive items from Ethel Waters. Since work was scarce and show business was changing Anise retired from show business.

The last known show business gig Anise had was as a bathing beauty in race film “Look Out Sister.” After that Anise Boyer became forgotten in show business history, most regrettably in black show biz history.

Harlem Is Heaven poster from Amazon.com.

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