the day and then Russian Dances in 1906 but their specialty was the
Virginia Essence which
later became the Soft-Shoe
(they were one of the first African-Americans to perform the Soft Shoe on the American Stage .)
Thaddeus explains: When he started dancing in 1906 they all worked
on their Russian dancing.
The Shuffle and the Sand dance were going out and Tap dance hadn't
yet been derived. He and Greenlee saw the Alexander Russian dancers
at Coney Island and copied some of their steps. By 1914 they were
on their way to the top with an all-Russian finale employing spins,
flips and Kazotsky's (Czardas)
which made a fine climax to the routine.
/ Hungarian dancing was popular in the States especially in American
Vaudeville as early as 1900, but Ida
Forsyne brought it to the forefront, up until Tap dancers
started to control the Stages. Ida Forsyne, Greenlee and Drayton,
Willie Covan, Dewey Weinglass
and others would excel in these quote"Russian Dances,"
often times calling it Legomania
and sometimes a mixture these and other dances were called Eccentric
dancing after WWI.
Greenlee worked with many
Minstrel acts and road shows such as Gerite Le Clair, Moore's
New Orleans Minstrels, The Georgia Campers and many more. When
not working on Stages, Greenlee worked at a Beer Tavern called
Greenwald's at Coney Island and at one time dated Alice Whitman
of the Whitman
Sisters. Greenlee and Drayton partnered up with the Johnson
and Dean toured fourteen countries together in 1913. Thaddeus
held Johnson in high respect and patterned allot of his dancing
While touring abroad they
Forsyne who helped them abroad until WWI and had to return
to the states. Upon returning to the states they were spotted
by Al Jolson who helped get them booked by Hugo Morris and the
Murray File agency into the Riviera Theatre and never looked back.
Their Act consisted of the following: First Act was centered around
the Virginia Essence which became their most celebrated dance
number. The Second Act was based around a song such as 'The Sheik
of Alabam' or 'Big Boy' and the Third Number was a Challenge Dance
routine between Drayton and Greenlee with Greenlee doing the fast
dancing with acrobatics
and Drayton doing Tap and Acrobatics. The Last Number was built
around their Russian dances and Legomania.
Greenlee and Drayton broke up the act around 1930 and remained
best friends over the years. Drayton stayed in Paris for a while
and Greenlee immediately returned home. Drayton eventually returned
home, took root in Harlem. Drayton married an actress and dancer
named Ethel Johnson who was then a young thespian and was in the
all black adaptation of Macbeth, directed by Orson Wells. They
had two children, Thaddeus "Teddy" and Thelma. Drayton
continued to work with his wife for another six years upon his
return to the states, where they retired.