Katherine Dunham
Katherine Mary Dunham (June 22, 1909 – May 21, 2006) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 dancer, choreographer, songwriter
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...

, author, educator, and activist. Dunham had one of the most successful dance careers in American and European theater of the 20th century and has been called the "Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance".

During her heyday in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, she was renowned throughout Europe and Latin America as "that Black woman", and the Washington Post called her "Dance's Katherine the Great".
Unanswered Questions
Katherine Mary Dunham (June 22, 1909 – May 21, 2006) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 dancer, choreographer, songwriter
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...

, author, educator, and activist. Dunham had one of the most successful dance careers in American and European theater of the 20th century and has been called the "Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance".

During her heyday in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, she was renowned throughout Europe and Latin America as "that Black woman", and the Washington Post called her "Dance's Katherine the Great". For more than 30 years she maintained the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, the only permanent, self-financing American black dance troupe at that time, and over her long career she choreographed more than 90 individual dances. Dunham was an innovator in African-American modern dance as well as a leader in the field of Dance Anthropology, or Ethno choreology.

In 1992, at the age of 82, Katherine Dunham went on a highly publicized 47-day hunger strike
Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not...

 to protest what she condemned as the discriminatory U.S. foreign policy against Haitian boat-people.

Early years

Dunham's father, Albert Millard Dunham was an African-American businessman who owned a dry-cleaning businesses. Albert Dunham traces his ancestry back to African slaves from West Africa and Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

. Her mother, Fanny June Taylor was a school teacher and of mixed French-Canadian, Native American and African descent. Dunham became fascinated with dance from a young age, and even before finishing high school she started a private dance school for young black children. At the age of 15, she organized the Blue Moon Cafe, a fund-raising cabaret for Brown's Methodist Church in Joliet, Illinois, where she gave her first public performance.

Upon completing Joliet Junior College, she moved to Chicago to join her brother Albert who was attending the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

. Later she studied both dance and anthropology while an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 during the 1930s. During this period she became interested in researching the origins of such popular dances as the cake-walk, the Lindy hop
Lindy Hop
The Lindy Hop is an American social dance, from the swing dance family. It evolved in Harlem, New York City in the 1920s and '30s and originally evolved with the jazz music of that time. Lindy was a fusion of many dances that preceded it or were popular during its development but is mainly based...

,and the black bottom
Black Bottom (dance)
Black Bottom refers to a dance. which became popular in the 1920s, during the period known as the Flapper era.The dance originated in New Orleans in the 1900s. The theatrical show Dinah brought the Black Bottom dance to New York in 1924, and the George White's Scandals featured it at the Apollo...

. She showed great promise in her ethnographic studies of dance and studied under some of the great anthropologists of the day, Robert Redfield
Robert Redfield
Robert Redfield was an American anthropologist and ethnolinguist. Redfield graduated from the University of Chicago, eventually with a J.D. from its law school and then a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology, which he began to teach in 1927...

, (who introduced her to African dance traditions), A.R. Radcliffe-Brown
Alfred Radcliffe-Brown
Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown was an English social anthropologist who developed the theory of Structural Functionalism.- Biography :...

, Edward Sapir
Edward Sapir
Edward Sapir was an American anthropologist-linguist, widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the early development of the discipline of linguistics....

, and Bronisław Malinowski.

While doing graduate work in 1935-1936, she 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 the Vodun of Haiti, a path also followed by fellow anthropology student, Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance...

 http://www.tbwt.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=180&Itemid=30; She also received a grant to work with Professor Melville Herskovits of Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

, whose ideas of African retention would serve as a platform for her research in the Caribbean. Herskovits helped to provide the tutelage and preparation for her voyage. Dunham's ground-breaking "field work helped to develop a now recognized subdiscipline of anthropology and also led to Ms. Dunham's own understanding - both intellectual and kinesthetic - of the African roots of black dance in the Caribbean" and the USA. Her fieldwork served to reinforce her notions about syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

 and how Caribbean folk dance represented a synthesis of African and European elements. In 1939 she submitted her thesis - "Dances of Haiti, Their Social Organization, Classification, Form and Function".

Her stay in the Caribbean began in Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, where she went to live several months in the remote isolated Maroon village of Accompong, deep in the Cockpit Country
Cockpit Country
Cockpit Country is an area in Jamaica which provided a natural defensive area used by Maroons to establish communities outside the control of Spanish or British colonialists....

, and she later wrote a book, "Journey to Accompong" describing those experiences. Then she traveled on to Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

 and Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

 for short stays (primarily to do an investigation of Shango
In the Yorùbá religion, Sàngó is perhaps one of the most popular Orisha; also known as the god of fire, lightning and thunder...

, the African God who remained an important presence in West Indian heritage) before arriving in Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, where she remained for several months, the first of her many extended stays in that country throughout the rest of her life.

While in Haiti, she investigated Voodoo rituals and years later, after extensive studies and initiations, she became a mambo (priestess) in the Vaudon religion. She also became friends with, among others, Dumarsais Estimé
Dumarsais Estimé
Dumarsais Estimé served as the President of Haïti from 16 August 1946 until 10 May 1950. He was the first black head of state since the US occupation of Haiti ended in 1934.-Early life:...

, then a high level politician, who later became President of Haiti in 1949. 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.

When she returned to Chicago in 1936 she was awarded her Bachelor's degree in Social Anthropology. As a result of her academic research "she acquired the title of 'dancing anthropologist' and actually founded the field of dance anthropology because of her intense study of African-influenced dance in the western hemisphere. Her contributions to the field of dance mark a new level of syncretism in that she not only unites American dancers with their African heritage, but her choreography reflects the black Diaspora traditions that she observed during her ethnographic research. On the most basic level, she exemplifies syncretism by incorporating snippets of movement from the dances she witnessed. In addition, this academic undertaking would also lead to the emergence and codification of the Dunham Technique, which like her choreography, synthesizes traditional elements of European-American ballet with movement qualities that highlighted an Afro-Caribbean personality by utilizing African drums and rhythms. In doing so, she hoped to dispel some fo the rigid stereotypes of what people perceived black dance should be.

While working on her masters degree, she was told by her advisers that she had to choose between anthropology and dance. Much to their regret, although she was offered another grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, she decided to choose dance, left her graduate studies before finishing her doctorate, and departed for the bright lights of Broadway and Hollywood.


While still in undergraduate studies, Dunham studied ballet under Mark Turbyfill of the Chicago Opera, and Russian dancer Ludmilla Speranzeva, formerly of the Moscow Theater, and worked with Ruth Page, who became prima ballerina of the Chicago Opera. When she was only 21, she formed a group called Ballet Nègres, the first black ballet company in the USA.

"First Negro Dance Recital was presented by Hemsley Winfield and Edna Guy in New York, a dance composition "Negro Rhapsody" was presented at Beaux Arts Ball in Chicago by a group called Ballets Nègres. The group's teacher, choreographer and chief dancer was the young Katherine Dunham."

From 1933-36 she performed as a guest star for the Chicago Opera Company. Page wrote a scenario and choreographed La Guiablesse, based on a folk tale in Lafcadio Hearne's "Two Years in the West Indies." It opened in Chicago in 1933, with a black cast and Page dancing the lead. The next year it was repeated with Katherine Dunham in the lead, by Dunham's Negro Dance Group. In March of that year she journeyed with her group to New York to take part in the Negro Dance Evening at the YMCA organized by Edna Guy.

and was dance director for the Chicago unit. She was the choreographer for the Chicago production of Run Lil Chillun, performed at the Goodman Theatre, and produced several other works of choreography including The Emperor Jones
The Emperor Jones
The Emperor Jones is a 1920 play by American dramatist Eugene O'Neill which tells the tale of Brutus Jones, an African-American man who kills a man, goes to prison, escapes to a Caribbean island, and sets himself up as emperor...

 and Barrelhouse.

At this time she first became associated with designer John Pratt, who she later married,and 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. Based on her research in Martinique, this three-part performance integrates elements of a Martinique fighting dance into American ballet to achieve an even greater degree of syncretism. This blending of cultures also appears in the way that she skilfully and stylistically employs choreographic techniques to evoke images of Afro-Caribbean customs and art. "With startingly exotic sets and costumes created by her late husband, John Pratt, the company instantly made their mark on America."

In 1939 they went to New York where she was dance director of the Labor Stage of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union for the production of Pins and Needles.

That same year she and her troupe performed at the Windsor Theatre in Tropics and Le Hot Jazz, including her principal Haitian drummer, Papa Augustin. Initially scheduled for one show, it was so popular among audiences that they stayed on for 13 weeks.

This success led to the entire company being engaged in the Broadway production, Cabin in the Sky
Cabin in the Sky
Cabin in the Sky is a 1943 American musical film with music by Vernon Duke, lyrics by John La Touche, and a musical book by Lynn Root. The musical premiered on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on October 25, 1940. It closed on March 8, 1941 after a total of 156 performances...

, staged by George Balanchine
George Balanchine
George Balanchine , born Giorgi Balanchivadze in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to a Georgian father and a Russian mother, was one of the 20th century's most famous choreographers, a developer of ballet in the United States, co-founder and balletmaster of New York City Ballet...

 and starring Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters
Ethel Waters was an American blues, jazz and gospel vocalist and actress. She frequently performed jazz, big band, and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts, although she began her career in the 1920s singing blues.Her best-known recordings includes, "Dinah", "Birmingham Bertha",...

, a run that went on for 20 weeks in New York, with Dunham in the stunning role of Georgia Brown, before moving to the West Coast for extended performances there and then she performed in theaters and nightclubs in major cities throughout the USA between 1939-41.

Her performance in Cabin in the Sky soon "created a controversy that raged in the newspapers over whether the torrid, bare-midruffed and bare-torsoed dancers represented "art" or "sex" ... From there Hollywood opened up".

Another famous role as a seductress during this period was the 'Woman with a Cigar' from her solo role in the revue Shore Excursion. A New York Times critic wrote in 1940: "Her sense of rhythm, theater and costuming and her wonderful performers - as well as her choreography and dancing - put serious Negro music on the map once and for all. Another forties critic felt the show was so hot "There were times when I heard the scenery sizzle."

In 1941, the company stayed in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 where Dunham made her first performance in movies, starring in a short film named Carnival of Rhythm, the first Hollywood dance film in color.

Other movies she appeared in during this period included Star Spangled Rhythm
Star Spangled Rhythm
Star Spangled Rhythm is a 1943 all-star cast musical film made by Paramount Pictures during World War II as a morale booster. Many of the Hollywood studios produced such films during the war, generally musicals, frequently with flimsy storylines, and with the specific intent of entertaining the...

 (1942), the Abbott and Costello
Abbott and Costello
William "Bud" Abbott and Lou Costello performed together as Abbott and Costello, an American comedy duo whose work on stage, radio, film and television made them the most popular comedy team during the 1940s and 1950s...

 comedy Pardon My Sarong (1942), and the famous break-through Black musical, Stormy Weather
Stormy Weather (1943 film)
Stormy Weather is a 1943 American musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The film is one of two major Hollywood musicals produced in 1943 with primarily African-American casts, the other being MGM's Cabin in the Sky, and is considered a time capsule showcasing some of the top...

 (1943). Later that year, they returned to New York and in September 1943, under the management of the renowned impresario Sol Hurok
Sol Hurok
Sol Hurok was a world-famous 20th century American impresario.-Biography:...

, her troupe opened for Tropical Review, which was an immediate and enormous success at the Martin Beck Theatre. At the time, it was rumored that Hurok had insured Katherine Dunham's legs for 1,000,000 million dollars (she later said it was only $250,000).

Commenting about it in the New York Times, renowned critic John Martin wrote that "throughout the evening Miss Dunham's chief business is to sizzle, she is one hundred percent seductress."

After their success of 156 performances in New York, they went on tour throughout the USA and Canada, but in Boston, the bastion of conservatism, her Revue was banned in 1944 after only one performance, although it was well received by the audience. A reviewer for the Boston Herald Tribune regarded Dunham as an "unconventional star" because she did not usurp the limelight. Dunham produced other works during this period, including Rara-Tonga, her famous Rites de Passage, and Plantation Dances. Other big Broadway hits in 1945 were Carib Song and Windy City; she later won acclaim for her ballet,

In 1946 Dunham returned to Broadway for a revue named Bal Nègre, then in late 1947 she opened in Las Vegas, the first year that the city became a popular entertainment destination. The next year, in 1947 she went to Mexico and her dance troupe's performance was so popular that they remained there for more than 2 months. This was the beginning of more than 20 years performing almost exclusively internationally throughout Europe, North Africa, South America, Australia and the Far East, during which she performed in 57 countries, and throughout this period she continued to develop dozens of new productions.

After Mexico, Dunham began touring in Europe, where she was an immediate sensation. She opened Caribbean Rhapsody first at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London, then swept on to Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées
The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is a theatre at 15 avenue Montaigne. Despite its name, the theatre is not on the Champs-Élysées but nearby in another part of the 8th arrondissement of Paris....

 in Paris and took the city by storm and was treated as a member of the jet set
Jet set
"Jet set" is a journalistic term that was used to describe an international social group of wealthy people, organizing and participating all around the world in social activities that are unreachable to ordinary people...

 and mixed with nobility and celebrities such as famous French actor Maurice Chevalier
Maurice Chevalier
Maurice Auguste Chevalier was a French actor, singer, entertainer and a noted Sprechgesang performer. He is perhaps best known for his signature songs, including Louise, Mimi, Valentine, and Thank Heaven for Little Girls and for his films including The Love Parade and The Big Pond...

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

In 1948, she made an appearance in the movie Casbah,
and also that year appeared in the first ever hour-long American spectacular televised by NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 when television was first beginning to spread across the USA. This was followed by television spectaculars on BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 in London, Buenos Aires (where she was a house guest of Evita Peron) , Toronto, Sydney, Mexico, and Germany.

Dunham and her dance troupe remained outside of the USA for most of the next 20 years with the exception of several short stays for some choreography work in several Hollywood movies, including Green Mansions
Green Mansions
Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest is an exotic romance by William Henry Hudson about a traveller to the Guyana jungle of southeastern Venezuela and his encounter with a forest dwelling girl named Rima.-Plot summary:...

 and The Bible, and others in Europe and elsewhere, such as Botta e Riposta, but made no further TV appearances until long after she retired.

The last appearance of the Dunham Company (on Broadway) in New York was in 1962 in Bamboche!, which included a contingent from the Royal Troupe of Morocco.
After collaborating with symphony orchestras in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Dunham, with Aida
Aida sometimes spelled Aïda, is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette...

 in 1963, Katherine Dunham became the first African-American to choreograph for the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...


In 1967 she retired after presenting a final show at the famous Apollo Theatre
Apollo Theatre
The Apollo Theatre is a Grade II listed West End theatre, on Shaftesbury Avenue in the City of Westminster. Designed by architect Lewin Sharp for owner Henry Lowenfield, and the fourth legitimate theatre to be constructed on the street, its doors opened on 21 February 1901 with the American...

 in Harlem, New York.

Even in retirement Dunham continued her choreography, and one of her major works was directing Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions, and was later dubbed "The King of Ragtime". During his brief career, Joplin wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas...

's opera Treemonisha in 1972.

In 1978 Dunham was featured in the PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 special, Divine Drumbeats: Katherine Dunham and Her People narrated by James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones is an American actor. He is well-known for his distinctive bass voice and for his portrayal of characters of substance, gravitas and leadership...

, as part of the Dance in America series. Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey, Jr. was an American choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance...

 later produced a tribute for her in 1987-8 with his American Dance Theatre at Carnegie Hall entitled The Magic of Katherine Dunham.

Educator and Writer

In 1945, she opened and directed the Katherine Dunham School of Dance and Theatre near Times Square in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 after her Dance Company was provided with rent-free studio space for 3 years by an admirer, Lee Shubert; it had an initial enrollment of 350 students.

The program included courses in dance, drama, performing arts, applied skills, humanities, cultural studies and Caribbean research, and in 1947 it was expanded and granted a charter as the Katherine Dunham School of Cultural Arts. The School was managed in Dunham's absence by one of her dancers, Syllivia Fort, thrived for about 10 years and was considered one of the best learning centers of its type at the time. Schools inspired by it later opened in Stockholm, Paris and Rome by dancers trained by Dunham.

Her alumni included many future celebrities, such as Eartha Kitt
Eartha Kitt
Eartha Mae Kitt was an American singer, actress, and cabaret star. She was perhaps best known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 hit recordings of "C'est Si Bon" and the enduring Christmas novelty smash "Santa Baby." Orson Welles once called her the "most exciting woman in the...

, who, as a teenager, won a scholarship to her school and later became one of her dancers before moving on to a successful singing career. Others who attended her school included James Dean
James Dean
James Byron Dean was an American film actor. He is a cultural icon, best embodied in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause , in which he starred as troubled Los Angeles teenager Jim Stark...

, Gregory Peck
Gregory Peck
Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor.One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1980s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an...

, Jose Ferrer
José Ferrer
José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón , best known as José Ferrer, was a Puerto Rican actor, as well as a theater and film director...

, Jennifer Jones, Shelley Winters
Shelley Winters
Shelley Winters was an American actress who appeared in dozens of films, as well as on stage and television; her career spanned over 50 years until her death in 2006...

, Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier
Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field...

, Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine is an American film and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist and author, well-known for her beliefs in new age spirituality and reincarnation. She has written a large number of autobiographical works, many dealing with her spiritual beliefs as well as her Hollywood career...

, Doris Duke
Doris Duke
Doris Duke was an American heiress, horticulturalist, art collector, and philanthropist.-Family and early life:...

 and Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty
Warren Beatty born March 30, 1937) is an American actor, producer, screenwriter and director. He has received a total of fourteen Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Director in 1982. He has also won four Golden Globe Awards including the Cecil B. DeMille Award.-Early life and...

. Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American movie star and political activist. "Unchallenged as the most important actor in modern American Cinema" according to the St...

 frequently dropped in to play the bongo drums, and jazz musician Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus Jr. was an American jazz musician, composer, bandleader, and civil rights activist.Mingus's compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third stream, free jazz, and classical music...

 held regular jam sessions with the drummers. Known for her many innovations, she developed a dance pedagogy named the Dunham Technique which won international acclaim and is now taught as a modern dance style in dance schools, including at the Harkness Dance Center of the 92nd Street Y
92nd Street Y
92nd Street Y is a multifaceted cultural institution and community center located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, United States, at the corner of E. 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Its full name is 92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association...


In 1965 Dunham dissolved her company when President Johnson nominated her to be technical cultural adviser, i.e. a sort of cultural ambassador, to the government of Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

 in West Africa, to help train the Senegalese National Ballet, and assist President Leopold Senghor in sponsoring the First Pan-African World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar from 1965-66. Later, she established a second home there and occasionally returned to Senegal to scout for talented African musicians and dancers. Throughout her career, Dunham continued publishing articles in anthropology under the name of Kaye Dunn, and to give occasional lectures in anthropology, including at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, and the Royal Anthropological Societies in London and Paris.

By 1957, Dunham was under severe personal strain that was affecting her health, and she decided to live for a year in relative isolation in Kyoto, Japan, where she worked on writing autobiographies of her youth.

The first work, entitled A Touch of Innocence, was published in 1958. A continuation based on her experiences in Haiti, Island Possessed, was published in 1969, and another written work,
Kasamance, based on her African experiences, was published in 1974.

In 1964, she moved to settle in East St. Louis, where she was an artist-in-residence at Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University is a state university system based in Carbondale, Illinois, in the Southern Illinois region of the state, with multiple campuses...

 in Edwardsville. There she was able to bring anthropologists, sociologists, educational specialist, scientists, writers, musicians, and theatre people together to create a liberal arts curriculum that would be a foundation for further college work. One of her fellow professors with whom she collaborated was renowned architect Buckminister Fuller, who has been called the "planet's friendly genius".

In 1967, Dunham opened the Performing Arts Training Center
Performing Arts Training Center
The Performing Arts Training Center was opened by world-renowned African American dancer Katherine Dunham in 1967 in East St. Louis, Illinois....

 (PATC) in East St. Louis, Illinois
East St. Louis, Illinois
East St. Louis is a city located in St. Clair County, Illinois, USA, directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri in the Metro-East region of Southern Illinois. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 27,006, less than one-third of its peak of 82,366 in 1950...

 as an attempt to use the arts to combat poverty and urban unrest. It served as a catharsis after the 1968 riots, during which she encouraged gang members in the ghetto to vent their frustrations with drumming and dance.

The PATC drew on former members of Dunham's touring company as well as local residents for its teaching staff. While trying to help the young people in the community she was even jailed herself, making international headlines which quickly embarrassed local police officials to release her.

She also continued refining and teaching the Dunham Technique to transmit that knowledge to succeeding generations of dance students, and lecturing at annual Masters Seminars in St. Louis which attracted dance students from around the world every summer until her death.

She also established the Katherine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities and Children's Workshop in East St. Louis to preserve Haitian and African instruments and artifacts from her own personal collection.

In 1976 she was guest Artist-in-Resident/Lecturer for Afro-American Studies at University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...



The Katherine Dunham Company toured throughout North America in the mid-1940s, even performing in the then segregated South, where Ms. Dunham once refused to hold a show after finding out that the city's black residents had not been allowed to buy tickets for the performance. On another occasion, after getting a rousing standing ovation in Tennessee, she told the audience she would not return until they were completely desegregated and blacks were not obliged to only stand in the rear sections. "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."

In Hollywood, she refused to sign a lucrative studio contract when the producer said she would have to replace some of her darker-skinned company members. She and her company frequently had difficulties finding adequate accommodations while on tour because in many regions of the USA, black Americans weren't allowed to stay at hotels.

While in Brazil, Dunham was refused a room at the finest hotel in São Paulo, the Hotel Esplanada, due to her race. She made sure the incident was publicized and in response the Afonso Arinos law was passed in 1951 forbidding racial discrimination in public places. 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 US State Department.

Despite strong opposition from the State Department, the Katherine Dunham Company performed Southland, a ballet whose theme dramatizing lynching of blacks in the racist American South, in Santiago, Chile
Santiago, Chile
Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation . It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of above mean sea level...

. As a result, she would later experience some diplomatic
"difficulties" on her tours. The State Department regularly subsidized other less well known groups, it consistently refused to support her company (even when it was entertaining US Army troops), although at the same time it did not hesitate to take credit for them as "unofficial artistic and cultural representatives". In attempts to downplay their popularity, the State Dept. repeatedly scheduled performances of their cultural representatives in conflict with those of the Dunham Company, invited ambassadors and other foreign officials to these performances, despite the frequent protests of officials and recommendations that Dunham's Company be supported.

Hunger Strike

In 1992, aged 82, Dunham went on a highly publicized hunger strike
Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not...

 to protest the discriminatory US foreign policy against Haitian boat-people.
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 reported that, "she went on a 47-day hunger strike to protest the U.S.'s forced repatriation of Haitian refugees. "My job", she said, "is to create a useful legacy."

Dick Gregory
Dick Gregory
Richard Claxton "Dick" Gregory is an American comedian, social activist, social critic, writer, and entrepreneur....

 led a non-stop vigil at her home, where many disparate personalities came to show their respect, such Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
Deborrah Kaye “Debbie” Allen is an American actress, dancer, choreographer, television director, television producer, and a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities...

, Jonathan Demme
Jonathan Demme
Robert Jonathan Demme is an American filmmaker, producer and screenwriter. Best known for directing The Silence of the Lambs, which won him the Academy Award for Best Director, he has also directed the acclaimed movies Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married, the Talking Heads concert movie Stop...

 and Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan
Louis Farrakhan Muhammad, Sr. is the leader of the African-American religious movement the Nation of Islam . He served as the minister of major mosques in Boston and Harlem, and was appointed by the longtime NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad, before his death in 1975, as the National Representative of...

, the leader of the Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam is a mainly African-American new religious movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930 to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African-Americans in the United States of America. The movement teaches black pride and...


This initiative drew international publicity to the plight and US discrimination against Haitian boat-people, and she only ended her fast after exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a Haitian former Catholic priest and politician who served as Haiti's first democratically elected president. A proponent of liberation theology, Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies...

 and Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson
Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to...

 came to personally request that she stop risking her life for this cause. After it ended, ABC News nominated her as Person of the Week.

In recognition of her stance, President Aristide later awarded her a medal of Haiti's highest honor, and called her the "Spiritual Mother of Haiti".

Botanical Garden in Haiti

After she became famous, Dunham and her husband John Pratt regularly returned to visit Haiti for extended stays, frequently bringing members of her dance company with them to recuperate, and to work on developing new dance productions.

On one of these visits during the late 1940s she purchased a large property of more than 7 hectares in the Carrefours suburban area of Port-au-Prince which was initially used as a retreat area. This mini-tropical rain forest reputedly formerly belonged to General Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc
Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc was a French Army general and husband to Pauline Bonaparte, sister to Napoleon Bonaparte.-To 1801:...

 - the brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 who was married to Napoleon's sister Pauline
Pauline Bonaparte
Pauline Bonaparte was the first sovereign Duchess of Guastalla, an imperial French Princess and the Princess consort of Sulmona and Rossano. She was the sixth child of Letizia Ramolino and Carlo Buonaparte, Corsica's representative to the court of King Louis XVI of France. Her elder brother,...

. General Leclerc had been sent by Napoleon to re-establish slavery in the formerly rich sugar and coffee producing French colony of Saint-Domingue. After the defeat of his army in November 1803, Haiti gained its independence.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the spring, or "source" which runs through the property was a major source for drinking water in Port-au-Prince, and was considered sacred in the Vaudon religion. As part of her many efforts to help the Haitian people, she established a medical clinic on her property to provide free medical services to the impoverished residents of the surrounding neighborhood. Later, in 1959 President "Papa Doc" Duvalier made her Commander and Grand Officer of the Haitian Legion of Honor.

In the early 1970s a French entrepreneur named Olivier Coquelin leased most of the Habitation Leclerc property to develop a luxury hotel on it, including 44 villas and 11 swimming pools. After its opening in 1974, Habitation Leclerc became renowned as one of the best international resorts in the world, catering particularly to the affluent jetset crowd, and its patrons included members of the Kennedy family, European nobility, and famous rock stars such as Mick Jagger. Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Bébé Doc" or "Baby Doc" was the President of Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. He succeeded his father, François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, as the ruler of Haiti upon his father's death in 1971...

's wife worked in public relations at the hotel before her 1980 marriage to the dictator. The hotel flourished until 1983.

With the proceeds of the lease, Dunham was also able to build her own residence on the adjoining property which was designed by Dunham and her husband, John Pratt, and constructed by the Haitian architect Albert Mangonès.

Today the Habitation Leclerc property is one of the few places in the Haitian capital region where a thick urban mini-forest still remains, and plans are under way to transform this into the Katherine Dunham Botanical Garden and Cultural Center for the Arts.

Initial botanical surveys indicate that it has the potential to become the most beautiful botanical garden in the Caribbean region, and could also become a center for addressing Haiti's critical deforestation problems.

Personal life

On July 10, 1939, she married one of America's most renowned costume and theatrical set designers, John Thomas Pratt http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=24997, who managed her career and for the next 47 years until his death, was her artistic collaborator. Pratt, who was white (inter-racial marriages were controversial at the time), was the son of John M. Pratt
John M. Pratt
John Morgan Pratt was a tax resistance leader, activist in the Old Right, publicist and newspaper man. Along with James E. Bistor, he led the probably the largest tax strike since the Era of the American Revolution.Pratt was born into a background of wealth...

. They have one adopted daughter, Marie-Christine Dunham Pratt. The senior Pratt had led the Association of Real Estate Taxpayers
Association of Real Estate Taxpayers
The Association of Real Estate Taxpayers was an organization of real-estate taxpayers in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois. Between 1931 and 1933, it organized one of the largest tax strikes in American history...

, which organized a tax strike in Chicago during the early 1930s. Dunham also began the Katherine Dunham Company
Katherine Dunham Company
The Katherine Dunham Company, a troupe of dancers, singers, actors and musicians, was the first African American modern dance company. It descended from Ballet Negre, a student troupe founded by Katherine Dunham, which later became the Negro Dance Troupe.The company had successful runs on Broadway...

, a troupe of dancers, singers, actors and musicians, which was the first African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 modern dance
Modern dance
Modern dance is a dance form developed in the early 20th century. Although the term Modern dance has also been applied to a category of 20th Century ballroom dances, Modern dance as a term usually refers to 20th century concert dance.-Intro:...


In 1949 she returned briefly to the USA where she temporarily suffered a nervous breakdown after the premature death of her brother Albert, who had been a promising philosophy professor at Howard University
Howard University
Howard University is a federally chartered, non-profit, private, coeducational, nonsectarian, historically black university located in Washington, D.C., United States...

 and a protegé of Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS was an English mathematician who became a philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education...

. During this time, she developed a warm friendship with famous psychologist and humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm
Erich Fromm
Erich Seligmann Fromm was a Jewish German-American social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist. He was associated with what became known as the Frankfurt School of critical theory.-Life:Erich Fromm was born on March 23, 1900, at Frankfurt am...

, whom she had known in Europe.

In 1951, rumors persisted that romantically linked Dunham with Ismaili Muslim leader Prince Ali Khan, during marriage to Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth was an American film actress and dancer who attained fame during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars...

. Both denied an interracial
Interracial is an adjective related to a supposed racial group. It can have different connotations in different contexts:* Interracial marriage is marriage between two people of different races....

 romance, still considered controversial at the time; however, a photo of the two dancing in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 at a private party Kahn hosted for Dunham appeared in major black magazines of the time.

Julie Belafonte, formerly a performer with the Katherine Dunham Company, met her husband, singer and later political activist Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte
Harold George "Harry" Belafonte, Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist. He was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s...

, while working with the Company, and they both remained very close friends of Dunham.


Katherine Dunham died in her sleep in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 from old age on May 21, 2006, aged 96.


Anna Kisselgoff
Anna Kisselgoff
Anna Kisselgoff is a dance critic and cultural news reporter for the New York Times. She began at the Times as a dance critic and cultural news reporter in 1968, and became its Chief Dance Critic in 1977, a role she held until 2005...

, a scholar of dance, called her "a major pioneer in Black theatrical dance ... ahead of her time." "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."

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.

The highly respected DANCE magazine did a feature cover story on her in August 2000 entitled "One-Woman Revolution." As Wendy Perron
Wendy Perron
Wendy Perron is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and currently the editor-in-chief of Dance Magazine.Perron graduated from Bennington College in 1969. She began her career in New York as a choreographer and dancer with the Trisha Brown Dance Company and studied with Twyla Tharp...

 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. She was the first American dancer to present indigenous forms on a concert stage, the first to sustain a black dance company, the first black person to choreograph for the Metropolitan Opera. 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."

Scholar of the arts, Harold Cruse
Harold Cruse
Harold Wright Cruse was an American academic who was an outspoken social critic and teacher of African-American studies at the University of Michigan until the mid-1980s. The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual is his best-known book....

 wrote in 1964: "Her early and life-long 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."

Black writer Arthur Todd described her as "one of our national treasures." 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." "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." "Her mastery of body movement was considered 'phenomenal.' 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."

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."

"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."

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 Francaise made a bronze cast of her feet for a museum of important personalities."

The Katherine Dunham Company became an incubator for many well known performers, including Archie Savage, Talley Beatty
Talley Beatty
Talley Beatty was born in Cedar Grove, Louisiana, a section of Shreveport, but grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He is considered one of the greatest of African American choreographers, and also bears the titles dancer, educator, and dance company director...

, Janet Collins, Lenwood Morris, Vanoye Aikens, Lucille Ellis, Pearl Reynolds, Camille Yarbrough
Camille Yarbrough
Camille Yarbrough is an American musician, actress, poet, activist, television producer, and author. She is perhaps best known for "Take Yo' Praise", which Fatboy Slim sampled from in his track "Praise You" in 1998. "Take Yo' Praise" was originally recorded in 1975 for Camille Yarbrough's first...

, Lavinia Williams
Lavinia Williams
Lavinia Williams , who sometimes went by the married name Lavinia Williams Yarborough, was an African-American dancer and dance educator who founded national schools of dance in several Caribbean countries.-Biography:...

, and Tommy Gomez.

Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey
Alvin Ailey, Jr. was an American choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York. Ailey is credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in 20th century concert dance...

, 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.

For several years her personal assistant and press promoter was Maya Deren
Maya Deren
Maya Deren , born Eleanora Derenkowsky, was an American avant-garde filmmaker and film theorist of the 1940s and 1950s...

, who later also became interested in Voudoun and wrote The Divine Horseman: The Voodoo Gods of Haiti (1953). Deren is now considered to be a pioneer of independent American filmmaking. 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.

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. As one source points 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" (Foulkes 72).


Over the years Katherine Dunham has received scores of special awards, including more than a dozen honorary doctorates from various American universities.
  • In 1971 Dunham received the Heritage Award from the National Dance Association
    National Dance Association
    The , headquartered in Reston, VA, is an association within the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance...

  • In 1979 at Carnegie Hall
    Carnegie Hall
    Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

    , Dunham received the Albert Schweitzer Music Award "for a life's work dedicated to music and devoted to humanity."
  • In 1987 she was received the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award, and was also inducted into the National Museum of Dance C.V. Whitney Hall of Fame
    National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame
    The National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, in the Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga, New York, was established in 1986 and is the only museum in the nation dedicated entirely to dance. It contains photographs, videos, artifacts, costumes and biographies. The museum is located in the former and...

     in Saratoga Springs, New York
    Saratoga Springs, New York
    Saratoga Springs, also known as simply Saratoga, is a city in Saratoga County, New York, United States. The population was 26,586 at the 2010 census. The name reflects the presence of mineral springs in the area. While the word "Saratoga" is known to be a corruption of a Native American name, ...

  • In 1983, she was a recipient of one of the highest artistic awards in the USA, the Kennedy Center Honors
    Kennedy Center Honors
    The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

  • In 1986 The American Anthropological Association gave Dunham the Distinguished Service Award.
  • In 1989, Dunham was awarded a National Medal of Arts, an honor shared by only two other University of Chicago alumni, Saul Bellow
    Saul Bellow
    Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

     and Philip Roth
    Philip Roth
    Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained fame with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of Jewish-American life that earned him a National Book Award...

  • Dunham has her own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame
    St. Louis Walk of Fame
    The St. Louis Walk of Fame honors well-known people from St. Louis, Missouri, who made contributions to culture of the United States. All inductees were either born in the Greater St. Louis area or spent their formative or creative years there...

  • In 2000 she was named one of the first 100 of "America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures" by the Dance Heritage Coalition, and she has also been featured in the PBS Born to Dance series.
  • In 2002, Molefi Kete Asante
    Molefi Kete Asante
    Molefi Kete Asante is an African-American scholar, historian, and philosopher. He is a leading figure in the fields of African American studies, African Studies and Communication Studies...

     listed Katherine Dunham on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans
    100 Greatest African Americans
    100 Greatest African Americans is a biographical dictionary of the one hundred historically greatest African Americans , as assessed by Molefi Kete Asante in 2002.-Criteria:...

  • In 2005, she was awarded "Outstanding Leadership in Dance Research" by the Congress on Research in Dance
    Congress on Research in Dance
    Congress on Research in Dance is an international non-profit interdisciplinary society for dance researchers, artists, performers and choreographers. CORD publishes the Dance Research Journal, and sponsors annual conferences which distribute annual awards...



  • 1941 - Carnival of Rhythm
  • 1943 - Stormy Weather
    Stormy Weather (1943 film)
    Stormy Weather is a 1943 American musical film produced and released by 20th Century Fox. The film is one of two major Hollywood musicals produced in 1943 with primarily African-American casts, the other being MGM's Cabin in the Sky, and is considered a time capsule showcasing some of the top...

  • 1944 - Cuban Episode
  • 1948 - Casbah
  • 1954 - Mambo
  • 1958 - Música en la noche
  • 1985 - Sworn to the Drum: A Tribute to Francisco Aguabella


  • Aschenbrenner, Joyce, Katherine Dunham: Dancing a Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press
    University of Illinois Press
    The University of Illinois Press , is a major American university press and part of the University of Illinois system. Founded in 1918, the press publishes some 120 new books each year, plus 33 scholarly journals, and several electronic projects...

    , 2002.
  • Clark, VeVe, and Johnson, Sara E., Kaiso! Writings By and About Katherine Dunham. Madison: University of Wisconsin–Madison
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded in 1848, UW–Madison is the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. It became a land-grant institution in 1866...

     Press, 2006.
  • Foulkes, Julia L. Modern Bodies—Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 66-78. Print.
  • Harrison, Ira E., and Harrison, Faye V., "African-American Pioneers in Anthropology". Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.
  • Haskins, James, Katherine Dunham. New York: Coward, McCann, & Geoghegan, 1982.
  • Hill, Constance, "Katherine Dunham's 'Southland': Protest in the Face of Repression," in Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance, ed. Thomas F. DeFrantz. Madison: University of Wisconsin–Madison
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded in 1848, UW–Madison is the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. It became a land-grant institution in 1866...

     Press, 2002.
  • Kraut, Anthea, "Between Primitivism and Diaspora: The Dance Performances of Josephine Baker
    Josephine Baker
    Josephine Baker was an American dancer, singer, and actress who found fame in her adopted homeland of France. She was given such nicknames as the "Bronze Venus", the "Black Pearl", and the "Créole Goddess"....

    , Zora Neale Hurston
    Zora Neale Hurston
    Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance...

    , and Katherine Dunham," Theatre Journal 55 (2003): 433–50.
  • Richard A. Long, The Black Tradition in American Dance.
  • Library of Congress Information Bulletin: Katherine Dunham Legacy Project, February 2001.
  • Kennedy Center Honors: Katherine Dunham.
  • Katherine Dunham Gala at Carnegie Hall for Albert Schweitzer Music Award, 1979.
  • Breaking Barriers: African American Women in Dance: Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, March 2001.
  • ESSENCE magazine, December 1987
  • "Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States" (1972) by Carl Degle

External links

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