Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Katherine Dunham


Sent to you by moya via Google Reader:


via Liquor&Spice on 2/2/11




I started the most consistent trend of my academic career (writing research papers on great and important women) when I was in 5th grade on Katharine Dunham and her dance legacy.

Katherine Dunham (1909-2006), born and raised in Illinois, was a renowned dancer, choreographer, writer, educator, and activist. She was an innovator of Modern Dance and ran her own dance troupe, the Katherine Dunham Company in New York for more than 30 years and developed the Dunham Technique, "a blend of African and Caribbean movement (flexible torso and spine, articulated pelvis and isolation of the limbs and polyrhythmic movement) integrated with techniques of ballet and modern dance". She was politically active throughout her entire life and with a particular interest in Haiti, where she owned property, and famously went on a 47-day hunger strike in 1982 protesting US treatment of Haitian refugees. In the 1970s she founded the Katharine Dunham Centers for Arts and Humanities, a multi-disciplinary arts organization and gallery in East St. Louis, IL.

For more information on Katherine Dunham:

Katherine Dunham: Dancing a Life, Joyce Aschenbrenner

Modern Bodies—Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey, Julia L. Foulkes

Katherine Dunham, James Haskins

Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance, Thomas F. DeFrantz, ed.

(Administrative note: I intend to make a post a day celebrating Black History Month, with an emphasis, though not exclusively focused, on women).

OMG OMG OMG, I just discovered Ms. Dunham's marvelous work when I finally watched Stormy Weather.  I knew of this film, but didn't know about Ms. Dunham's beautiful choreography until I researched the film.  Her numbers are fantastic!

Here is one of her numbers.  It's the signature song, so pay attention to the dancing!  Poor quality video, but you can still see enough. It's unlike any other Hollywood musical number.

The greay!



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