Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Original In Her Own Right

Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Missouri History Museum recently had an exhibit on the late and talented dancer Ms. Katherine Dunham. I didn’t know much about her other than small discussions that took place in my African American Studies classes but when I found out she grew up right across the river in East St. Louis, I wanted to know more.

Ms. 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.

Known as La Grande Katherine she was not only a dancer and choreographer but songwriter, educator and activist. She went against the cultural norms when she married Canadian-born designer John Thomas Pratt. He not only created her costumes but choreographer almost all of Katherine’s performances (can I get a boo like that??).

She continued to be influential in her and at the age of 82 went on a highly publicized 47-day hunger strike to protest what she condemned as the discriminatory US foreign policy against Haitian boat-people.

If that’s not a Kabuki Queen I don’t know what is.

Wanna know more? Katherine Dunham's Living Legacy