The Timeline of an influential Jazz dancer.
Created by Kimberlykaz on Mar 8, 2011
Last updated: 03/24/11 at 11:05 PM
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Katherine Dunham and her company appearedon a German television special called Karibische Rhythmen. The show included Afrique, Rhumba Trio, Samba, Choros, Floyd's Guitar Blues , Strutters' Ball, and Cakewalk. Also, The Dunham Company disbanded in1960. It was the end of a company of dancers trained by The Dunham Technique. The end of dancers being coached by Katherine to perform her choreography.
In the Broadway Theater Katherine Dunham and her company danced in three acts and twelve scenes. A dance critic named Walter Terry wrote, "Miss Dunham presents one of the handsomest productions you are likely to see in these parts". He singled out three dances: Veracruzana, Rituals, and Barrelhouse. Rituals is also called: Rites of Passage. The show closed after thirty two performances.
Katherine Dunham and her company of dancers/musicians went on their first United States tour in the Broadway production of Cabin in the Sky. Katherine married Canadian John Pratt. Who was an established artist and had joined her company as the set and costume designer. He designed sets and costumes for almost every production of the Dunham Company. He also designed every single costume that Katherine wore on stage.
Katherine Dunham choreographed and produced her first full length ballet, L'Ag'Ya. It debuted in January at the Federal Theater, Chicago. The ballet is based on a story of love, jealousy, and revenge. Katherine's ballet became part of the repertory of Ballet Fedré. Which was a component of the Federal Theater Project, at the Great Northern Theater.
Katherine Dunham and her company made a one-time appearance at the Young Men's Hebrew Association. Edna Guy, Alison Burroughs, Clarence Yates, and Asadata Dafora joined them for a Negro Dance Evening. In the first half of the program, Katherine performed a suite of West Indian dances. In the second half of the program, Katherine performed Tropic Death. In this piece, Talley Beatty is cast as the fugitive from a lynch mob.
Katherine Dunham dances the leading role in La Guiablesse (The Devil Woman) in a Chicago Opera production. The production was based on a Martinican legend so, it had an all black cast. Katherine continued to appear as a guest artist with the Chicago Opera in the future. She also was an assistant to its ballet director, Ruth Page. Ballet Nègre was revived, with students from her school.
Katherine Dunham formed a dance company named Ballet Nègre. Ballet Nègre was one of the first Negro Ballet companies in America. Ballet Nègre gave its debut performance at the Beaux Arts Ball in Chicago. One of the numbers on the program was called Negro Rhapsody and, the audience liked it very much! But, no other performances happen so, the group disbanded.
When Katherine Dunham was in high school she joined the Terpsichorean Club. That was when she began to learn a kind of free-style modern dance. This type of dance was based on ideas by Jaques-Dalcroze and Rudolf von Laban. Also, when she was fourteen she helped organized a party to raise money for her church. She was the producer, director, and star of the entertainment, it was her first public performance.
When Katherine was only four years old, her mother Fanny June Dunham died. So, Katherine and Albert Jr. were sent to live with their Aunt Lulu in the south side of Chicago. When Katherine lived with her Aunt, she was first exposed to music and dance. The Dunham side of the family was full of performers of every kind! Later, Katherine's father married a school teacher from Iowa, and the family reunited and moved too Joliet, Illinois.
She was born in raised in Joliet, Illinois. Dunham's father, Albert Millard Dunham owned a dry-cleaning business. Her mother, Fanny June Taylor was a school teacher. In Chicago she studied with Ludmilla Speranzeva and Mark Turbyfill. Dunham became fascinated with dance from a young age, and even before finishing high school she started a private dance school.