Katherine Dunham Company

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The Katherine Dunham Company, a troupe of dancers, singers, actors and musicians, was the first African-American modern dance company. It descended from Ballet Nègre, a student troupe founded in 1930 by Katherine Dunham, which later became the Negro Dance Troupe.

The company had successful runs on Broadway and in other major American cities. In a The New York Times review on February 19, 1940, dance critic John Martin wrote: "Her performance with her group last Sunday at the Windsor Theatre may very well become a historic occasion, for certainly never before in all efforts of recent years to establish Negro dance as a serious medium has there been so convincing and authoritative an approach."[1][2] Beginning in the 1940s Dunham took her troupe on a series of highly acclaimed world tours. The Dunham Company helped launch the career of many African-American performers of the day. Dunham alumni include Alvin Ailey, Rosalie King, Eartha Kitt and Walter Nicks. Today you can find classes in Dunham Technique taught in New York City at both the 92nd Street YMHA and at the Fashion Institute of Technology, by former company member Dana McBroom-Manno. McBroom-Manno was a featured dancer in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Aida, choreographed by Katherine Dunham, the first African-American choreographer at the Met since Hemsley Winfield set the dances for The Emperor Jones in 1933.

Successful revues included the universally acclaimed Bal Nègre (1946).

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  1. ^ John Martin, "The Dance: A Negro Art", New York Times, February 19, 1940. Quoted in "City of Lake and Wind", Chicago Renaissance, p. 19. Yale University.
  2. ^ Molly E. Christie Gonzalez, "Katherine Dunham Technique and Philosophy: A Holistic Dance Pedagogy" (2015). Dance Master’s Theses. Paper 4.

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