Katherine Dunham ... A Tribute
- A Tribute to Anthropologist / ChoreographerKatherine Dunham -- the pioneering dancer, choreographer,
Advisor / Professor - Katherine Dunham
Katherine Dunham -- world famous choreographer, dance
artist, and anthropologist passed away on May 22, 2006.
professor, advisor, author and civil rights activist who chose to
leave her Broadway career to teach --- passed away at age 96.
Dunham died Sunday at the Manhattan assisted living facility
where she lived, said Charlotte Ottley, executive liaison for
the organization that preserves her artistic estate.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
Dunham was perhaps best known for bringing African and
Caribbean influences to the European-dominated dance world.
In the late 1930s, she established the nation's
first self-supporting modern dance group that
was composed entirely of artists who were
of any part-Black lineage and / or parentage.
Born in Chicago , Dunham received her bachelor's,
master's, and doctoral degrees in anthropology from
the University of Chicago and later did extensive
anthropological study, particularly in the Caribbean .
She began performing in 1931 in Chicago and
then worked for the New York Labor Stage
In 1936 Dunham traveled and
studied dance in the West Indies
She also choreographed for, and performed
in, motion pictures and Broadway musicals.
She became the first [choreographer of any
known or visible part-Black lineage] to work
at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City .
In 1940 she formed a highly acclaimed dance troupe
-- that was composed entirely of artists who were
of any part-Black lineage and / or parentage -- which
toured her works in the United States and in Europe .
Dunham opened the Dunham School of Dance in
New York City , which trained dancers in classical
ballet, African and Caribbean dance forms,
anthropology, and other cultural arts.
In 1959, Dunham wrote an autobiography
entitled "A Touch Of Innocence".
In her autobiography she took note of her various
experiences as the artistically talented daughter
of an African father and a White western mother.
She [later also] acted as [the] technical
cultural advisor to [both] the president and
the minister of cultural affairs of Senegal .
In the 1970s Dunham went to Southern Illinois
University [initially] as an artist in residence
and later became a professor.
The following is a review of "A Touch of Innocence":
A Touch of Innocence: A Memoir -- by Katherine Dunham
"Long before terms like "multiculturalism" and "world music" came
into vogue, dancer, choreographer, and University of Chicago-trained
anthropologist Katherine Dunham traveled to Africa, the West Indies,
and South America, chronicling the spread of Africa-derived dance
traditions and creating a multitude of critically acclaimed revues
But Dunham's autobiography, written in the late 1950s is bittersweet.
She was born on June 22, 1909, in Joliet , Illinois , the daughter of a
West African-Malagasy father and mother of French-Canadian-
Native American heritage who died when Dunham was an infant.
'A Touch of Innocence' chronicles the first 18 years of Dunham's life:
her upbringing with her brother, Albert Jr., in the white suburb of Glen Ellyn;
the antagonism of her domineering father; and the experience of being
raised by aunts in Chicago while her dad worked as a traveling salesman.
From this piercing work, the world-famous dance icon emerges
with the all-embracing allure of the everyday aristocracy "
--Eugene Holley Jr. --- (http://www.powells.com ) Amazon.com