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Katherine Dunham on Overcoming 1940’s Racism (Jacob’s Pillow Dance)

Welcome To The Dance

The Katherine Dunham Dance Company was the first black modern-dance company in North America. In this video, Dancer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham describes the historical moment in 1944 when her dance company was asked to perform for a segregated audience in a Lexington, Kentucky theatre.

“Katherine Dunham (June 22, 1909 — May 21, 2006) An anthropologist, author, educator, song writer, dancer, choreographer and activist. Dunham worked as an anthropologist studying ethnographic dance in the Caribbean, predominantly Haiti, where she even became a mambo (priestess) in the Vaudon (Voodoo) religion. Her entrenched studies not only spearheaded a new idea of “dance anthropology” in academia but also launched Dunham into her future as a political activist in the States as well as the Caribbean.”

“PillowTalks use dance as a prism to explore the world at large. For more on Jacob’s Pillow please visit”

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