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Article

Dunham, Katherine Mary (1909–2006) By Das, Joanna Dee

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM1919-1
Published: 15/10/2018
Retrieved: 18 December 2018, from
https://www.rem.routledge.com/articles/dunham-katherine-mary-1909-2006

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As a choreographer, anthropologist, educator, and activist, Katherine Dunham transformed the field of dance in the twentieth century. In the mid-1930s she conducted anthropological research on dance and incorporated her findings into her choreography, blending the rhythms and movements of the Caribbean with ballet and modern dance. Through her dance troupe, which she formed in 1936, Dunham brought Africanist aesthetics to the concert dance stage and popularized the genre of African-American modern dance. For the next 28 years, Dunham and her company of dancers, singers, and musicians toured the USA, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, exposing international audiences to a creative, modern interpretation of African diasporic culture. Through her school in New York, Dunham also established the Dunham Technique, which synthesized what she called primitive rhythms with ballet and modern dance. This technique became one of the foundations of modern and jazz dance in the postwar period. As an anthropologist, Dunham paid attention not only to how people danced, but why they did so. She disseminated her ideas on the social importance of dance through performance, publications, and education. Throughout her career Dunham used her public stature to fight for progressive social change, challenging segregation in the USA, discrimination in Brazil, and American foreign policy in Haiti.

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15/10/2018

Article DOI

10.4324/9781135000356-REM1919-1

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Citing this article:

Das, Joanna Dee. "Dunham, Katherine Mary (1909–2006)." The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. : Taylor and Francis, 2016. Date Accessed 18 Dec. 2018 https://www.rem.routledge.com/articles/dunham-katherine-mary-1909-2006. doi:10.4324/9781135000356-REM1919-1

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