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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Katherine Dunham: Dancer, Choreographer, Civil Rights Activist Dead at Age 96

Here's a report from GIRL6 on the death of a legend:
(photo credit: Mike van Sleen)
Katherine Dunham, a dancer, choreographer, civil rights activist, and author whose work has had major national and international impact, died on Sunday. She was 96.

Katherine Dunham was best known for bringing African and Caribbean influences to the European-dominated dance world. In the late 1930s, she established the nation's first self-supporting all-black modern dance group.

During her career Ms Dunham choreographed "Aida" for the Metropolitan Opera and musicals such as "Cabin in the Sky" for Broadway. She also appeared in several films, including "Stormy Weather" and "Carnival of Rhythm."

Her dance company toured internationally from the 1940s to the '60s, visiting 57 nations on six continents. Her success was won in the face of widespread discrimination, a struggle Dunham championed by refusing to perform at segregated theaters.

For her endeavors, Dunham received 10 honorary doctorates, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the Albert Schweitzer Prize at the Kennedy Center Honors, and membership in the French Legion of Honor, as well as major honors from Brazil and Haiti.

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