Katherine Dunham

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Katherine Dunham_table_infobox_0

Katherine DunhamKatherine Dunham_header_cell_0_0_0
BornKatherine Dunham_header_cell_0_1_0 Katherine Mary Dunham

(1909-06-22)June 22, 1909 Chicago, Illinois, U.SKatherine Dunham_cell_0_1_1

DiedKatherine Dunham_header_cell_0_2_0 May 21, 2006(2006-05-21) (aged 96)

New York City, New York, U.SKatherine Dunham_cell_0_2_1

Alma materKatherine Dunham_header_cell_0_3_0 University of ChicagoKatherine Dunham_cell_0_3_1
OccupationKatherine Dunham_header_cell_0_4_0 Dancer, choreographer, author, educator, activistKatherine Dunham_cell_0_4_1
Spouse(s)Katherine Dunham_header_cell_0_5_0 Jordis W. McCoo

​ ​(m. 1931; div. 1938)​

John Pratt ​ ​(m. 1941; died 1986)​Katherine Dunham_cell_0_5_1

Katherine Dunham ( June 22, 1909 – May 21, 2006) was an African-American dancer, choreographer, creator of the Dunham Technique, author, educator, anthropologist, and social activist. Katherine Dunham_sentence_0

Dunham had one of the most successful dance careers in African-American and European theater of the 20th century, and directed her own dance company for many years. Katherine Dunham_sentence_1

She has been called the "matriarch and queen mother of black dance." Katherine Dunham_sentence_2

While a student at the University of Chicago, Dunham also performed as a dancer and ran a dance school. Katherine Dunham_sentence_3

Receiving a fellowship, she went to the Caribbean to study dance and ethnography. Katherine Dunham_sentence_4

She later returned to graduate and submitted a master's thesis in anthropology. Katherine Dunham_sentence_5

She did not complete the other requirements for that degree, however. Katherine Dunham_sentence_6

She realized that her professional calling was performance. Katherine Dunham_sentence_7

At the height of her career in the 1940s and 1950s, Dunham was renowned throughout Europe and Latin America and was widely popular in the United States. Katherine Dunham_sentence_8

The Washington Post called her "dancer Katherine the Great". Katherine Dunham_sentence_9

For almost 30 years she maintained the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, the only self-supported American black dance troupe at that time. Katherine Dunham_sentence_10

Over her long career, she choreographed more than ninety individual dances. Katherine Dunham_sentence_11

Dunham was an innovator in African-American modern dance as well as a leader in the field of dance anthropology, or ethnochoreology. Katherine Dunham_sentence_12

She also developed the Dunham Technique, a method of movement to support her dance works. Katherine Dunham_sentence_13

Early years Katherine Dunham_section_0

Katherine Mary Dunham was born on June 22, 1909, in a Chicago hospital and taken as an infant to her parents' home in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, about 25 miles west of Chicago. Katherine Dunham_sentence_14

Her father, Albert Millard Dunham, was a descendant of slaves from West Africa and Madagascar. Katherine Dunham_sentence_15

Her mother, Fanny June Dunham (née Taylor), who was of French-Canadian heritage, died when Dunham was three years old. Katherine Dunham_sentence_16

She had an older brother, Albert Jr., with whom she had a close relationship. Katherine Dunham_sentence_17

After her father married again a few years later, the family moved to a predominantly white neighborhood in Joliet, Illinois. Katherine Dunham_sentence_18

There her father ran a dry-cleaning business. Katherine Dunham_sentence_19

Dunham became interested in both writing and dance at a young age. Katherine Dunham_sentence_20

In 1921, a short story she wrote when she was 12 years old, called "Come Back to Arizona", was published in volume 2 of The Brownies' Book. Katherine Dunham_sentence_21

She graduated from Joliet Central High School in 1928, where she played baseball, tennis, basketball, and track; served as vice-president of the French Club, and was on the yearbook staff. Katherine Dunham_sentence_22

In high school she joined the Terpsichorean Club and began to learn a kind of modern dance based on the ideas of Europeans Émile Jaques-Dalcroze and Rudolf von Laban. Katherine Dunham_sentence_23

At the age of 15, she organized "The Blue Moon Café", a fundraising cabaret to raise money for Brown's Methodist Church in Joliet, where she gave her first public performance. Katherine Dunham_sentence_24

While still a high school student, she opened a private dance school for young black children. Katherine Dunham_sentence_25

Academic anthropologist Katherine Dunham_section_1

After completing her studies at Joliet Junior College, Dunham moved to Chicago to join her brother Albert, who was attending the University of Chicago as a student of philosophy. Katherine Dunham_sentence_26

In a lecture by Robert Redfield, a professor of anthropology, she learned that much of black culture in modern America had begun in Africa. Katherine Dunham_sentence_27

She decided to major in anthropology and to study dances of the African diaspora. Katherine Dunham_sentence_28

Besides Redfield, she studied under anthropologists such as A.R. Katherine Dunham_sentence_29 Radcliffe-Brown, Edward Sapir, and Bronisław Malinowski. Katherine Dunham_sentence_30

Under their tutelage, she showed great promise in her ethnographic studies of dance. Katherine Dunham_sentence_31

In 1935, Dunham was awarded travel fellowships from the Julius Rosenwald and Guggenheim foundations to conduct ethnographic study of the dance forms of the Caribbean, especially as manifested in Vodun practice of Haiti. Katherine Dunham_sentence_32

Fellow anthropology student Zora Neale Hurston also did field work in the Caribbean. Katherine Dunham_sentence_33

Dunham also received a grant to work with Professor Melville Herskovits of Northwestern University, whose ideas about retention of African culture among African Americans served as a base for her research in the Caribbean. Katherine Dunham_sentence_34

Her field work in the Caribbean began in Jamaica, where she lived for several months in the remote Maroon village of Accompong, deep in the mountains of Cockpit Country. Katherine Dunham_sentence_35

(She later wrote Journey to Accompong, a book describing her experiences there.) Katherine Dunham_sentence_36

Then she traveled to Martinique and to Trinidad and Tobago for short stays, primarily to do an investigation of Shango, the African god who was still considered an important presence in West Indian religious culture. Katherine Dunham_sentence_37

Early in 1936, she arrived in Haiti, where she remained for several months, the first of her many extended stays in that country through her life. Katherine Dunham_sentence_38

While in Haiti, Dunham investigated Vodun rituals and made extensive research notes, particularly on the dance movements of the participants. Katherine Dunham_sentence_39

Years later, after extensive studies and initiations, she became a mambo in the Vodun religion. Katherine Dunham_sentence_40

She also became friends with, among others, Dumarsais Estimé, then a high-level politician, who became president of Haiti in 1949. Katherine Dunham_sentence_41

Somewhat later, she assisted him, at considerable risk to her life, when he was persecuted for his progressive policies and sent in exile to Jamaica after a coup d'état. Katherine Dunham_sentence_42

Dunham returned to Chicago in the late spring of 1936. Katherine Dunham_sentence_43

In August she was awarded a bachelor's degree, a Ph.B., bachelor of philosophy, with her principal area of study named as social anthropology. Katherine Dunham_sentence_44

She was one of the first African-American women to attend this college and to earn these degrees. Katherine Dunham_sentence_45

In 1938, using materials collected during her research tour of the Caribbean, Dunham submitted a thesis, The Dances of Haiti: A Study of Their Material Aspect, Organization, Form, and Function, to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master's degree, but she never completed her course work or took required examinations to complete the degree. Katherine Dunham_sentence_46

Devoted to dance performance, as well as to anthropological research, she realized that she had to choose between the two. Katherine Dunham_sentence_47

Although Dunham was offered another grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to pursue her academic studies, she chose dance, gave up her graduate studies, and departed for Broadway and Hollywood. Katherine Dunham_sentence_48

Dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham_section_2

From 1928 to 1938 Katherine Dunham_section_3

Dunham’s dance career first began in Chicago when she joined the Little Theater Company of Harper Avenue. Katherine Dunham_sentence_49

In 1928, while still an undergraduate, Dunham began to study ballet with Ludmilla Speranzeva, a Russian dancer who had settled in Chicago, after having come to the United States with the Franco-Russian vaudeville troupe Le Théâtre de la Chauve-Souris, directed by impresario Nikita Balieff. Katherine Dunham_sentence_50

Dunham also studied ballet with Mark Turbyfill and Ruth Page, who became prima ballerina of the Chicago Opera. Katherine Dunham_sentence_51

Additionally, she worked closely with Vera Mirova who specialized in “Oriental” dance. Katherine Dunham_sentence_52

Through her ballet teachers, she was also exposed to Spanish, East Indian, Javanese, and Balinese dance forms. Katherine Dunham_sentence_53

In 1931, at the age of 21, Dunham formed a group called Ballets Nègres, one of the first black ballet companies in the United States. Katherine Dunham_sentence_54

The group performed Dunham’s Negro Rhapsody at the Chicago Beaux Arts Ball. Katherine Dunham_sentence_55

After this well-received performance in 1931, the group was disbanded. Katherine Dunham_sentence_56

Encouraged by Speranzeva to focus on modern dance instead of ballet, Dunham opened her first dance school in 1933, calling it the Negro Dance Group. Katherine Dunham_sentence_57

It was a venue for Dunham to teach young black dancers about their African heritage. Katherine Dunham_sentence_58

In 1934–1936, Dunham performed as a guest artist with the ballet company of the Chicago Opera. Katherine Dunham_sentence_59

Ruth Page had written a scenario and choreographed La Guiablesse ("The Devil Woman"), based on a Martinican folk tale in Lafcadio Hearn's Two Years in the French West Indies. Katherine Dunham_sentence_60

It opened in Chicago in 1933, with a black cast and with Page dancing the title role. Katherine Dunham_sentence_61

The next year the production was repeated with Katherine Dunham in the lead and with students from Dunham's Negro Dance Group in the ensemble. Katherine Dunham_sentence_62

Her dance career was interrupted in 1935 when she received funding from the Rosenwald Foundation which allowed her to travel to Jamaica, Martinique, Trinidad, and Haiti for eighteen months to explore each country’s respective dance cultures. Katherine Dunham_sentence_63

The result of this trip was Dunham’s Master’s these entitled “The Dances of Haiti.” Katherine Dunham_sentence_64

Having completed her undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and decided to pursue a performing career rather than academic studies, Dunham revived her dance ensemble. Katherine Dunham_sentence_65

In 1937 she traveled with them to New York to take part in A Negro Dance Evening, organized by Edna Guy at the 92nd Street YMHA. Katherine Dunham_sentence_66

The troupe performed a suite of West Indian dances in the first half of the program and a ballet entitled Tropic Death, with Talley Beatty, in the second half. Katherine Dunham_sentence_67

Upon returning to Chicago, the company performed at the Goodman Theater and at the Abraham Lincoln Center. Katherine Dunham_sentence_68

Dunham created Rara Tonga and Woman with a Cigar at this time, which became well known. Katherine Dunham_sentence_69

With choreography characterized by exotic sexuality, both became signature works in the Dunham repertory. Katherine Dunham_sentence_70

After her company performed successfully, Dunham was chosen as dance director of the Chicago Negro Theater Unit of the Federal Theatre Project. Katherine Dunham_sentence_71

In this post, she choreographed the Chicago production of Run Li'l Chil'lun, performed at the Goodman Theater. Katherine Dunham_sentence_72

She also created several other works of choreography, including The Emperor Jones (a response to the play by Eugene O'Neill) and Barrelhouse. Katherine Dunham_sentence_73

At this time Dunham first became associated with designer John Pratt, whom she later married. Katherine Dunham_sentence_74

Together, they produced the first version of her dance composition L'Ag'Ya, which premiered on January 27, 1938, as a part of the Federal Theater Project in Chicago. Katherine Dunham_sentence_75

Based on her research in Martinique, this three-part performance integrated elements of a Martinique fighting dance into American ballet. Katherine Dunham_sentence_76

From 1939 to the late 1950s Katherine Dunham_section_4

In 1939, Dunham's company gave additional performances in Chicago and Cincinnati and then returned to New York. Katherine Dunham_sentence_77

Dunham had been invited to stage a new number for the popular, long-running musical revue Pins and Needles 1940, produced by the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. Katherine Dunham_sentence_78

As this show continued its run at the Windsor Theater, Dunham booked her own company in the theater for a Sunday performance. Katherine Dunham_sentence_79

This concert, billed as Tropics and Le Hot Jazz, included not only her favorite partners Archie Savage and Talley Beatty, but her principal Haitian drummer, Papa Augustin. Katherine Dunham_sentence_80

Initially scheduled for a single performance, the show was so popular that the troupe repeated it for another ten Sundays. Katherine Dunham_sentence_81

Based on this success, the entire company was engaged for the 1940 Broadway production Cabin in the Sky, staged by George Balanchine and starring Ethel Waters. Katherine Dunham_sentence_82

With Dunham in the sultry role of temptress Georgia Brown, the show ran for 20 weeks in New York. Katherine Dunham_sentence_83

It next moved to the West Coast for an extended run of performances there. Katherine Dunham_sentence_84

The show created a minor controversy in the press. Katherine Dunham_sentence_85

After the national tour of Cabin in the Sky, the Dunham company stayed in Los Angeles, where they appeared in the Warner Brothers short film Carnival of Rhythm (1941). Katherine Dunham_sentence_86

The next year, after the US entered World War II, Dunham appeared in the Paramount musical film Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) in a specialty number, "Sharp as a Tack," with Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. Katherine Dunham_sentence_87

Other movies she performed in as a dancer during this period included the Abbott and Costello comedy Pardon My Sarong (1942) and the black musical Stormy Weather (1943), which featured a stellar range of actors, musicians and dancers. Katherine Dunham_sentence_88

The company returned to New York. Katherine Dunham_sentence_89

The company was located on the property that formerly belonged to the Isadora Duncan Dance in Caravan Hill but subsequently moved to W 43 Street. Katherine Dunham_sentence_90

In September 1943, under the management of the impresario Sol Hurok, her troupe opened in Tropical Review at the Martin Beck Theater. Katherine Dunham_sentence_91

Featuring lively Latin American and Caribbean dances, plantation dances, and American social dances, the show was an immediate success. Katherine Dunham_sentence_92

The original two-week engagement was extended by popular demand into a three-month run, after which the company embarked on an extensive tour of the United States and Canada. Katherine Dunham_sentence_93

In Boston, then a bastion of conservatism, the show was banned in 1944 after only one performance. Katherine Dunham_sentence_94

Although it was well received by the audience, local censors feared that the revealing costumes and provocative dances might compromise public morals. Katherine Dunham_sentence_95

After the tour, in 1945, the Dunham company appeared in the short-lived Blue Holiday at the Belasco Theater in New York, and in the more successful Carib Song at the Adelphi Theatre. Katherine Dunham_sentence_96

The finale to the first act of this show was Shango, a staged interpretation of a Vodun ritual, which became a permanent part of the company's repertory. Katherine Dunham_sentence_97

In 1946, Dunham returned to Broadway for a revue entitled Bal Nègre, which received glowing notices from theater and dance critics. Katherine Dunham_sentence_98

Early in 1947 Dunham choreographed the musical play Windy City, which premiered at the Great Northern Theater in Chicago. Katherine Dunham_sentence_99

Later in the year she opened a cabaret show in Las Vegas, during the first year that the city became a popular entertainment as well as gambling destination. Katherine Dunham_sentence_100

Later that year she took her troupe to Mexico, where their performances were so popular that they stayed and performed for more than two months. Katherine Dunham_sentence_101

After Mexico, Dunham began touring in Europe, where she was an immediate sensation. Katherine Dunham_sentence_102

In 1948, she opened A Caribbean Rhapsody, first at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London, and then took it to the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Katherine Dunham_sentence_103

This was the beginning of more than 20 years during which Dunham performed with her company almost exclusively outside the United States. Katherine Dunham_sentence_104

During these years, the Dunham company appeared in some 33 countries in Europe, North Africa, South America, Australia, and East Asia. Katherine Dunham_sentence_105

Dunham continued to develop dozens of new productions during this period, and the company met with enthusiastic audiences in every city. Katherine Dunham_sentence_106

Despite these successes, the company frequently ran into periods of financial difficulties, as Dunham was required to support all of the 30 to 40 dancers and musicians. Katherine Dunham_sentence_107

Dunham and her company appeared in the Hollywood movie Casbah (1948) with Tony Martin, Yvonne De Carlo, and Peter Lorre, and in the Italian film Botta e Risposta, produced by Dino de Laurentiis. Katherine Dunham_sentence_108

Also that year they appeared in the first ever, hour-long American spectacular televised by NBC, when television was first beginning to spread across America. Katherine Dunham_sentence_109

This was followed by television spectaculars filmed in London, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Sydney, and Mexico City. Katherine Dunham_sentence_110

In 1950, Sol Hurok presented Katherine Dunham and Her Company in a dance revue at the Broadway Theater in New York, with a program composed of some of Dunham's best works. Katherine Dunham_sentence_111

It closed after only 38 performances. Katherine Dunham_sentence_112

The company soon embarked on a tour of venues in South America, Europe, and North Africa. Katherine Dunham_sentence_113

They had particular success in Denmark and France. Katherine Dunham_sentence_114

In the mid-1950s, Dunham and her company appeared in three films: Mambo (1954), made in Italy; Die Grosse Starparade (1954), made in Germany; and Música en la Noche (1955), made in Mexico City. Katherine Dunham_sentence_115

Later career Katherine Dunham_section_5

The Dunham company's international tours ended in Vienna in 1960. Katherine Dunham_sentence_116

They were stranded without money because of bad management by their impresario. Katherine Dunham_sentence_117

Dunham saved the day by arranging for the company to be paid to appear in a German television special, Karibische Rhythmen, after which they returned to the United States. Katherine Dunham_sentence_118

Dunham's last appearance on Broadway was in 1962 in Bamboche!, which included a few former Dunham dancers in the cast and a contingent of dancers and drummers from the Royal Troupe of Morocco. Katherine Dunham_sentence_119

It was not a success, closing after only eight performances. Katherine Dunham_sentence_120

A highlight of Dunham's later career was the invitation from New York's Metropolitan Opera to stage dances for a new production of Aida, starring soprano Leontyne Price. Katherine Dunham_sentence_121

In 1963, she became the first African American to choreograph for the Met since Hemsley Winfield set the dances for The Emperor Jones in 1933. Katherine Dunham_sentence_122

The critics acknowledged the historical research she did on dance in ancient Egypt, but they were not appreciative of her choreography as staged for this production. Katherine Dunham_sentence_123

Subsequently, Dunham undertook various choreographic commissions at several venues in the United States and in Europe. Katherine Dunham_sentence_124

In 1966, she served as a State Department representative for the United States to the first ever World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal. Katherine Dunham_sentence_125

In 1967 she officially retired, after presenting a final show at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. Katherine Dunham_sentence_126

Even in retirement Dunham continued to choreograph: one of her major works was directing the premiere full, posthumous production Scott Joplin's opera Treemonisha in 1972, a joint production of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Morehouse College chorus in Atlanta, conducted by Robert Shaw. Katherine Dunham_sentence_127

This work was never produced in Joplin's lifetime, but since the 1970s, it has been successfully produced in many venues. Katherine Dunham_sentence_128

In 1978 Dunham was featured in the PBS special, Divine Drumbeats: Katherine Dunham and Her People, narrated by James Earl Jones, as part of the Dance in America series. Katherine Dunham_sentence_129

Alvin Ailey later produced a tribute for her in 1987–88 at Carnegie Hall with his American Dance Theater, entitled The Magic of Katherine Dunham. Katherine Dunham_sentence_130

Educator and writer Katherine Dunham_section_6

In 1945, Dunham opened and directed the Katherine Dunham School of Dance and Theatre near Times Square in New York City. Katherine Dunham_sentence_131

Her dance company was provided with rent-free studio space for three years by an admirer and patron, Lee Shubert; it had an initial enrollment of 350 students. Katherine Dunham_sentence_132

The program included courses in dance, drama, performing arts, applied skills, humanities, cultural studies, and Caribbean research. Katherine Dunham_sentence_133

In 1947 it was expanded and granted a charter as the Katherine Dunham School of Cultural Arts. Katherine Dunham_sentence_134

The school was managed in Dunham's absence by Syvilla Fort, one of her dancers, and thrived for about 10 years. Katherine Dunham_sentence_135

It was considered one of the best learning centers of its type at the time. Katherine Dunham_sentence_136

Schools inspired by it were later opened in Stockholm, Paris, and Rome by dancers who had been trained by Dunham. Katherine Dunham_sentence_137

Her alumni included many future celebrities, such as Eartha Kitt. Katherine Dunham_sentence_138

As a teenager, she won a scholarship to the Dunham school and later became a dancer with the company, before beginning her successful singing career. Katherine Dunham_sentence_139

Dunham and Kitt collaborated again in the 1970s in an Equity Production of the musical Peg, based on the Irish play, Peg O' My Heart. Katherine Dunham_sentence_140

Dunham Company member Dana McBroom-Manno was selected as a featured artist in the show, which played on the Music Fair Circuit. Katherine Dunham_sentence_141

Others who attended her school included James Dean, Gregory Peck, Jose Ferrer, Jennifer Jones, Shelley Winters, Sidney Poitier, Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty. Katherine Dunham_sentence_142

Marlon Brando frequently dropped in to play the bongo drums, and jazz musician Charles Mingus held regular jam sessions with the drummers. Katherine Dunham_sentence_143

Known for her many innovations, Dunham developed a dance pedagogy, later named the Dunham Technique, a style of movement and exercises based in traditional African dances, to support her choreography. Katherine Dunham_sentence_144

This won international acclaim and is now taught as a modern dance style in many dance schools. Katherine Dunham_sentence_145

By 1957, Dunham was under severe personal strain, which was affecting her health. Katherine Dunham_sentence_146

She decided to live for a year in relative isolation in Kyoto, Japan, where she worked on writing memoirs of her youth. Katherine Dunham_sentence_147

The first work, entitled A Touch of Innocence: Memoirs of Childhood, was published in 1959. Katherine Dunham_sentence_148

A continuation based on her experiences in Haiti, Island Possessed, was published in 1969. Katherine Dunham_sentence_149

A fictional work based on her African experiences, Kasamance: A Fantasy, was published in 1974. Katherine Dunham_sentence_150

Throughout her career, Dunham occasionally published articles about her anthropological research (sometimes under the pseudonym of Kaye Dunn) and sometimes lectured on anthropological topics at universities and scholarly societies. Katherine Dunham_sentence_151

In 1963 Dunham was commissioned to choreograph Aida at New York's Metropolitan Opera Company, with Leontyne Price in the title role. Katherine Dunham_sentence_152

Members of Dunham's last New York Company auditioned to become members of the Met Ballet Company. Katherine Dunham_sentence_153

Among her dancers selected were Marcia McBroom, Dana McBroom, Jean Kelly, and Jesse Oliver. Katherine Dunham_sentence_154

The Met Ballet Company dancers studied Dunham Technique at Dunham's 42nd Street dance studio for the entire summer leading up to the season opening of Aida. Katherine Dunham_sentence_155

Lyndon B. Johnson was in the audience for opening night. Katherine Dunham_sentence_156

Dunham's background as an anthropologist gave the dances of the opera a new authenticity. Katherine Dunham_sentence_157

She was also consulted on costuming for the Egyptian and Ethiopian dress. Katherine Dunham_sentence_158

Dana McBroom-Manno still teaches Dunham Technique in New York City and is a Master of Dunham Technique. Katherine Dunham_sentence_159

In 1964, Dunham settled in East St. Louis, and took up the post of artist-in-residence at Southern Illinois University in nearby Edwardsville. Katherine Dunham_sentence_160

There she was able to bring anthropologists, sociologists, educational specialists, scientists, writers, musicians, and theater people together to create a liberal arts curriculum that would be a foundation for further college work. Katherine Dunham_sentence_161

One of her fellow professors, with whom she collaborated, was architect Buckminster Fuller. Katherine Dunham_sentence_162

The following year, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Dunham to be technical cultural adviser— a sort of cultural ambassador—to the government of Senegal in West Africa. Katherine Dunham_sentence_163

Her mission was to help train the Senegalese National Ballet and to assist President Leopold Senghor with arrangements for the First Pan-African World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar (1965–66). Katherine Dunham_sentence_164

Later Dunham established a second home in Senegal, and she occasionally returned there to scout for talented African musicians and dancers. Katherine Dunham_sentence_165

In 1967, Dunham opened the Performing Arts Training Center (PATC) in East St. Louis in an effort to use the arts to combat poverty and urban unrest. Katherine Dunham_sentence_166

The restructuring of heavy industry had caused the loss of many working-class jobs, and unemployment was high in the city. Katherine Dunham_sentence_167

After the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Dunham encouraged gang members in the ghetto to come to the Center to use drumming and dance to vent their frustrations. Katherine Dunham_sentence_168

The PATC teaching staff was made up of former members of Dunham's touring company, as well as local residents. Katherine Dunham_sentence_169

While trying to help the young people in the community, Dunham was arrested. Katherine Dunham_sentence_170

This gained international headlines and the embarrassed local police officials quickly released her. Katherine Dunham_sentence_171

She also continued refining and teaching the Dunham Technique to transmit that knowledge to succeeding generations of dance students. Katherine Dunham_sentence_172

She lectured every summer until her death at annual Masters' Seminars in St. Louis, which attracted dance students from around the world. Katherine Dunham_sentence_173

She established the Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities in East St. Louis to preserve Haitian and African instruments and artifacts from her personal collection. Katherine Dunham_sentence_174

In 1976, Dunham was guest artist-in-residence and lecturer for Afro-American studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Katherine Dunham_sentence_175

A photographic exhibit honoring her achievements, entitled Kaiso! Katherine Dunham_sentence_176

Katherine Dunham, was mounted at the Women's Center on the campus. Katherine Dunham_sentence_177

In 1978, an anthology of writings by and about her, also entitled Kaiso! Katherine Dunham_sentence_178

Katherine Dunham, was published in a limited, numbered edition of 130 copies by the Institute for the Study of Social Change. Katherine Dunham_sentence_179

Social activism Katherine Dunham_section_7

The Katherine Dunham Company toured throughout North America in the mid-1940s, performing as well in the racially segregated South. Katherine Dunham_sentence_180

Dunham refused to hold a show in one theater after finding out that the city's black residents had not been allowed to buy tickets for the performance. Katherine Dunham_sentence_181

On another occasion, in October 1944, after getting a rousing standing ovation in Louisville, Kentucky, she told the all-white audience that she and her company would not return because "your management will not allow people like you to sit next to people like us." Katherine Dunham_sentence_182

She expressed a hope that time and the "war for tolerance and democracy" (this was during World War II) would bring a change. Katherine Dunham_sentence_183

One historian noted that "during the course of the tour, Dunham and the troupe had recurrent problems with racial discrimination, leading her to a posture of militancy which was to characterize her subsequent career." Katherine Dunham_sentence_184

In Hollywood, Dunham refused to sign a lucrative studio contract when the producer said she would have to replace some of her darker-skinned company members. Katherine Dunham_sentence_185

She and her company frequently had difficulties finding adequate accommodations while on tour because in many regions of the country, black Americans were not allowed to stay at hotels. Katherine Dunham_sentence_186

While Dunham was recognized as "unofficially" representing American cultural life in her foreign tours, she was given very little assistance of any kind by the U.S. State Department. Katherine Dunham_sentence_187

She had incurred the displeasure of departmental officials when her company performed Southland, a ballet that dramatized the lynching of a black man in the racist American South. Katherine Dunham_sentence_188

Its premiere performance on December 9, 1950, at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile, generated considerable public interest in the early months of 1951. Katherine Dunham_sentence_189

The State Department was dismayed by the negative view of American society that the ballet presented to foreign audiences. Katherine Dunham_sentence_190

As a result, Dunham would later experience some diplomatic "difficulties" on her tours. Katherine Dunham_sentence_191

The State Department regularly subsidized other less well-known groups, but it consistently refused to support her company (even when it was entertaining U.S. Army troops), although at the same time it did not hesitate to take credit for them as "unofficial artistic and cultural representatives." Katherine Dunham_sentence_192

The Afonso Arinos Law in Brazil Katherine Dunham_section_8

In 1950, while visiting Brazil, Dunham and her group were refused rooms at a first-class hotel in São Paulo, the Hotel Esplanada, frequented by many American businessmen. Katherine Dunham_sentence_193

Understanding that the fact was due to racial discrimination, she made sure the incident was publicized. Katherine Dunham_sentence_194

The incident was widely discussed in the Brazilian press and became a hot political issue. Katherine Dunham_sentence_195

In response, the Afonso Arinos law was passed in 1951 that made racial discrimination in public places a felony in Brazil. Katherine Dunham_sentence_196

Hunger strike Katherine Dunham_section_9

In 1992, at age 83, Dunham went on a highly publicized hunger strike to protest the discriminatory U.S. foreign policy against Haitian boat-people. Katherine Dunham_sentence_197

Time reported that, "she went on a 47-day hunger strike to protest the U.S.'s forced repatriation of Haitian refugees. Katherine Dunham_sentence_198

"My job", she said, "is to create a useful legacy." Katherine Dunham_sentence_199

During her protest, Dick Gregory led a non-stop vigil at her home, where many disparate personalities came to show their respect, such Debbie Allen, Jonathan Demme, and Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam. Katherine Dunham_sentence_200

This initiative drew international publicity to the plight of the Haitian boat-people and U.S. discrimination against them. Katherine Dunham_sentence_201

Dunham ended her fast only after exiled Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Jesse Jackson came to her and personally requested that she stop risking her life for this cause. Katherine Dunham_sentence_202

In recognition of her stance, President Aristide later awarded her a medal of Haiti's highest honor. Katherine Dunham_sentence_203

Private life Katherine Dunham_section_10

Dunham married Jordis McCoo, a black postal worker, in 1931, but he did not share her interests and they gradually drifted apart, finally divorcing in 1938. Katherine Dunham_sentence_204

About that time Dunham met and began to work with John Thomas Pratt, a Canadian who had become one of America's most renowned costume and theatrical set designers. Katherine Dunham_sentence_205

Pratt, who was white, shared Dunham's interests in African-Caribbean cultures and was happy to put his talents in her service. Katherine Dunham_sentence_206

After he became her artistic collaborator, they became romantically involved. Katherine Dunham_sentence_207

In the summer of 1941, after the national tour of Cabin in the Sky ended, they went to Mexico, where inter-racial marriages were less controversial than in the United States, and engaged in a commitment ceremony on 20 July, which thereafter they gave as the date of their wedding. Katherine Dunham_sentence_208

In fact, that ceremony was not recognized as a legal marriage in the United States, a point of law that would come to trouble them some years later. Katherine Dunham_sentence_209

Katherine Dunham and John Pratt married in 1949 to adopt Marie-Christine, a French 14-month-old baby. Katherine Dunham_sentence_210

From the beginning of their association, around 1938, Pratt designed the sets and every costume Dunham ever wore. Katherine Dunham_sentence_211

He continued as her artistic collaborator until his death in 1986. Katherine Dunham_sentence_212

When she was not performing, Dunham and Pratt often visited Haiti for extended stays. Katherine Dunham_sentence_213

On one of these visits, during the late 1940s, she purchased a large property of more than seven hectares (approximately 17.3 acres) in the Carrefours suburban area of Port-au-Prince, known as Habitation Leclerc. Katherine Dunham_sentence_214

Dunham used Habitation Leclerc as a private retreat for many years, frequently bringing members of her dance company to recuperate from the stress of touring and to work on developing new dance productions. Katherine Dunham_sentence_215

After running it as a tourist spot, with Vodun dancing as entertainment, in the early 1960s, she sold it to a French entrepreneur in the early 1970s. Katherine Dunham_sentence_216

In 1949, Dunham returned from international touring with her company for a brief stay in the United States, where she suffered a temporary nervous breakdown after the premature death of her beloved brother Albert. Katherine Dunham_sentence_217

He had been a promising philosophy professor at Howard University and a protégé of Alfred North Whitehead. Katherine Dunham_sentence_218

During this time, she developed a warm friendship with the psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm, whom she had known in Europe. Katherine Dunham_sentence_219

He was only one of a number of international celebrities who were Dunham's friends. Katherine Dunham_sentence_220

In December 1951, a photo of Dunham dancing with Ismaili Muslim leader Prince Ali Khan at a private party he had hosted for her in Paris appeared in a popular magazine and fueled rumors that the two were romantically linked. Katherine Dunham_sentence_221

Both Dunham and the prince denied the suggestion. Katherine Dunham_sentence_222

The prince was then married to actress Rita Hayworth, and Dunham was now legally married to John Pratt; a quiet ceremony in Las Vegas had taken place earlier in the year. Katherine Dunham_sentence_223

The couple had officially adopted their foster daughter, a 14-month-old girl they had found as an infant in a Roman Catholic convent nursery in Fresnes, France. Katherine Dunham_sentence_224

Named Marie-Christine Dunham Pratt, she was their only child. Katherine Dunham_sentence_225

Among Dunham's closest friends and colleagues was Julie Robinson, formerly a performer with the Katherine Dunham Company, and her husband, singer and later political activist Harry Belafonte. Katherine Dunham_sentence_226

Both remained close friends of Dunham for many years, until her death. Katherine Dunham_sentence_227

Glory Van Scott and Jean-Léon Destiné were among other former Dunham dancers who remained her lifelong friends. Katherine Dunham_sentence_228

Death Katherine Dunham_section_11

On May 21, 2006, Dunham died in her sleep from natural causes in New York City. Katherine Dunham_sentence_229

She died a month before her 97th birthday. Katherine Dunham_sentence_230

She wished her family a happy life. Katherine Dunham_sentence_231

Legacy Katherine Dunham_section_12

Anna Kisselgoff, a dance critic for The New York Times, called Dunham "a major pioneer in Black theatrical dance ... ahead of her time." Katherine Dunham_sentence_232

"In introducing authentic African dance-movements to her company and audiences, Dunham—perhaps more than any other choreographer of the time—exploded the possibilities of modern dance expression." Katherine Dunham_sentence_233

As one of her biographers, Joyce Aschenbrenner, wrote: "Today, it is safe to say, there is no American black dancer who has not been influenced by the Dunham Technique, unless he or she works entirely within a classical genre", and the Dunham Technique is still taught to anyone who studies modern dance. Katherine Dunham_sentence_234

The highly respected Dance magazine did a feature cover story on Dunham in August 2000 entitled "One-Woman Revolution." Katherine Dunham_sentence_235

As Wendy Perron wrote, "Jazz dance, 'fusion,' and the search for our cultural identity all have their antecedents in Dunham's work as a dancer, choreographer, and anthropologist. Katherine Dunham_sentence_236

She was the first American dancer to present indigenous forms on a concert stage, the first to sustain a black dance company.... She created and performed in works for stage, clubs, and Hollywood films; she started a school and a technique that continue to flourish; she fought unstintingly for racial justice." Katherine Dunham_sentence_237

Scholar of the arts Harold Cruse wrote in 1964: "Her early and lifelong search for meaning and artistic values for black people, as well as for all peoples, has motivated, created opportunities for, and launched careers for generations of young black artists ... Afro-American dance was usually in the avant-garde of modern dance ... Dunham's entire career spans the period of the emergence of Afro-American dance as a serious art." Katherine Dunham_sentence_238

Black writer, Arthur Todd, described her as "one of our national treasures." Katherine Dunham_sentence_239

Regarding her impact and effect he wrote: "The rise of American Negro dance commenced ... when Katherine Dunham and her company skyrocketed into the Windsor Theater in New York, from Chicago in 1940, and made an indelible stamp on the dance world... Miss Dunham opened the doors that made possible the rapid upswing of this dance for the present generation." Katherine Dunham_sentence_240

"What Dunham gave modern dance was a coherent lexicon of African and Caribbean styles of movement—a flexible torso and spine, articulated pelvis and isolation of the limbs, a polyrhythmic strategy of moving—which she integrated with techniques of ballet and modern dance." Katherine Dunham_sentence_241

"Her mastery of body movement was considered 'phenomenal.' Katherine Dunham_sentence_242

She was hailed for her smooth and fluent choreography and dominated a stage with what has been described as 'an unmitigating radiant force providing beauty with a feminine touch full of variety and nuance." Katherine Dunham_sentence_243

Richard Buckle, ballet historian and critic, wrote: "Her company of magnificent dancers and musicians ... met with the success it has and that herself as explorer, thinker, inventor, organizer, and dancer should have reached a place in the estimation of the world, has done more than a million pamphlets could for the service of her people." Katherine Dunham_sentence_244

"Dunham's European success led to considerable imitation of her work in European revues ... it is safe to say that the perspectives of concert-theatrical dance in Europe were profoundly affected by the performances of the Dunham troupe." Katherine Dunham_sentence_245

While in Europe, she also influenced hat styles on the continent as well as spring fashion collections, featuring the Dunham line and Caribbean Rhapsody, and the Chiroteque Française made a bronze cast of her feet for a museum of important personalities." Katherine Dunham_sentence_246

The Katherine Dunham Company became an incubator for many well known performers, including Archie Savage, Talley Beatty, Janet Collins, Lenwood Morris, Vanoye Aikens, Lucille Ellis, Pearl Reynolds, Camille Yarbrough, Lavinia Williams, and Tommy Gomez. Katherine Dunham_sentence_247

Alvin Ailey, who stated that he first became interested in dance as a professional career after having seen a performance of the Katherine Dunham Company as a young teenager of 14 in Los Angeles, called the Dunham Technique "the closest thing to a unified Afro-American dance existing." Katherine Dunham_sentence_248

For several years, Dunham's personal assistant and press promoter was Maya Deren, who later also became interested in Vodun and wrote The Divine Horseman: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti (1953). Katherine Dunham_sentence_249

Deren is now considered to be a pioneer of independent American filmmaking. Katherine Dunham_sentence_250

Dunham herself was quietly involved in both the Voodoo and Orisa communities of the Caribbean and the United States, in particular with the Lucumi tradition. Katherine Dunham_sentence_251

Not only did Dunham shed light on the cultural value of black dance, but she clearly contributed to changing perceptions of blacks in America by showing society that as a black woman, she could be an intelligent scholar, a beautiful dancer, and a skilled choreographer. Katherine Dunham_sentence_252

As Julia Foulkes pointed out, "Dunham's path to success lay in making high art in the United States from African and Caribbean sources, capitalizing on a heritage of dance within the African Diaspora, and raising perceptions of African American capabilities." Katherine Dunham_sentence_253

Awards and honors Katherine Dunham_section_13

Over the years Katherine Dunham has received scores of special awards, including more than a dozen honorary doctorates from various American universities. Katherine Dunham_sentence_254

Katherine Dunham_unordered_list_0


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine Dunham.