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eighty five weeks ago we did a program about a remarkable woman named katherine dunham we receive many requests to repeat it from people who missed it and from others and just want to say it again or tonight we say to those wishes katherine dunham was a view of a certain age may remember her as a glamorous performer with a knack for turning her research on black manson the theatrical excited mayday nineteen forty nine hollywood movie she danced in several hollywood films in the forties and fifties but most of her career was on the stage and broadway audiences katherine dunham was most famous for dance reviews which she choreographed and starred in whatever career was spent abroad
the katherine dunham dance company visited sixty one countries over the years and was an enormous success wherever it appear particularly in europe katherine dunham has been a lifetime straddling separate worlds the academic world of the university of chicago where she received her masters degree in anthropology and the theatrical and dance world where she gained such a claim she grew up war and black in and around chicago and went on to become a close friend of intellectuals artists and heads of state from all over the world as a choreographer she was one of the first to make black dancers visible as trained disciplined arts a decade ago she gave up her international tourism the dance world of new york to work in the st louis tonight a look at what this extraordinary woman is accomplished in the community that just about everyone had written off charlayne hunter gault visited katherine dunham in east st louis and all this is the gateway arch in st louis is my new men to the promise of the midwest but there are those
symbols around here that stand in stark contrast just across the river and the tracks is east st louis illinois a symbol of all that is wrong with america's urban centers the cane poverty high unemployment to name a few and it is here that katherine dunham chose to establish common katherine dunham museum has her latest gift to the saint louis it's located on the street with vandals have already left their mark inside business diamonds collection of folk art and musical instruments from africa and the caribbean and all the many places that she and her dance troupe visited over the years as it is here in the st louis other local residents can see what black coaches in other parts of the world have achieved katherine dunham has been a lifetime learning about afro american culture and museum is her way of passing that law allen along she stresses that it's a living museum and that means bringing africa and here to explain their culture to american blacks these two
musicians aron who's it from senegal a country where katherine dunham has close ties to katherine dunham hasn't really committed her art to east st louis she's become a permanent resident for the past ten years she's lived in this house in the heart of the ghetto across the street at the high school and used since it was burnt out during the riots in the late nineteen sixties ever since she arrived in the st louis to become director of the performing arts training center of southern illinois university this modest house has been her home base here she is surrounded by art works in them into those gathered during her travels she says her memorabilia on the nearest thing to a permanent home she's ever has sales from africa mae
africa and then just no no no a lobster that i especially like the main market than some of the other sales are from selling bonds but for all her interest in art black culture catherine done this first and foremost involved with dance as a performer choreographer and teacher and for ten years now she and former members of her dance troupe had been teaching a new generation that done and take me it's been the point the dome technique evolved from the stones' anthropological studies in the caribbean there she tracked down the dances brought from africa about black slaves she then took the movement's she found in haiti in other islands and reworked them into
the dance main street the result is a kind of dancing to strongly rhythmic sensual and jazzy this is what she's been performing and teaching to students throughout her career the class is a nice thing with all that to students at southern illinois university and are free to any member of the community who walks through the door i asked ms dunham about advanced technique and this is a lie it is a series of lies
david thank you this is a place to ask people to do things it's had because we're semi and then there are other people in our own city as i quite
happy to be here it's going to pass a master drummer and choreographer during his years at saint louis he's taken hits and never saw african jew a peak to peak is beaming look what katherine dunham calls her madness ways of luring a street tough gaze into the odds another worker magnus classes in the martial law school used to africa command and have a savior de silva teaches the class in a version of african martial arts still alive in his native trees
what you pretty iraqi gear ikea as only cultural force in this city of seventy thousand school has been able to tap the talent pool that was just waiting to be discovered from monday stevenson has done has created the junior troupe in ages six to thirteen who performs a lot of audiences and a teacher and director of the junior company is ruby street sometimes in class at the end of claire's when i have located sometimes we were on the floor and let them a matinee that they wouldn't maybe animals you know they relate to animals so i'd say different things at that they live around here
amy james is only problem according to rubio always wants to one of the original balance didn't lose anything with his gallery get as she began soon after school got underway in the late nineteen sixties when the city was often in flames today she is a communications major in college and the mother to teach children thank you and that is very sad and knowing way
ten strides out of this is that i may not have been causes damages in a private means to be a member of a local game called imperial warlords median it's reasonable or is this is just the no cars and smashed windows he's been studying for three years now and people still believe michael has a bright future as a dancer when he's ready to go to new york los angeles and tries lot he's been
through well we really st louis michael green and other members of the performing arts training company gave a performance at the evansville campus of southern illinois university and one of the pieces they performed with a section of a new full length we're going down and conditioning cause more it's called showstopper the roots of a culture and the section begins with a candidate it's been
oh it's been tough but the problem the beacon
economy has been the peak a peace but the peace in the past week
the pay to play and katherine dunham is now in our studios in new york ms dunham those easterly below seventy special meaning for you now after ten years yes it does it's it's a city that i have grown to not only loved that need and so often people ask me why i am than i find myself looking for such excuses as oh well my archives are actually very happily income until my hand i find that sometimes i say it's because
the first polio program as needed though they're sargent shriver asked me to go and see what i could do a cultural arts i think that over the years that scenario synchronization i have been in most countries of the world and was coming directly from africa and i saw immediately i was supposed to be a three month since think close finishing a book an icelandic laden they know they're in the mood of the city to find some survive and occasionally i'm burning buildings in and enters the industry going on or they say you know that it's a depressing place was a depressing place of whatever depress you us yesterday as depressed me sometimes it feels as though i'm not making the progress that i would like to and it has its problems economic serious economic
problems political problems and we have done with our program there anything moratorium the socialization we can change very much the economics of the city that we can help to get people out and we can help to prepare them to take their places in other places of the world which we call of socialization i am frequently any particular things that you could cite that you're particularly proud of in terms of the socialization not process it you feel that you contributed to their nice angles that camera proud of the year the history of people who have left the center let graduated for instance from our center and be a good skill campus of the university and we're now in broadway plays or in other shows and some within
the offer and so forth i'm very proud of that and i'm also proud of those who have chosen academic careers who've gone ahead with everything from biology to pre medical to business administration or whatever but they have been sent out into these fields by us what effect do you think it's a low so that on the bad times when i think it has had a devastating effect on times when i am discouraged and when i feel the drain of the constant negative influence that one can find it then i have another thing that i say in that is that my first education was the university of chicago i think i learned every day and you cut through that negative atmosphere that this opens the racing where we have cured by forming
a dance company by having really important classes in the branson the university that's a nice thing for those and taking people out of the city itself into other areas that other environment and we see the effect of this und single individuals and actually on hold and groups of people and i think that the last thing that we've done establishing a museum in the city has been extremely important in identification in pride giving which everyone need an iq showing that quite a number of years in haiti we have a house they're that what you do they're very in even going to let you do anything i'm thankful i i think that they're both in their own way under developed countries places
at my main interest was really what i drew from haiti it was in the study of bubbled through women's saber dances of haiti and they said it was meant a great deal to me so that i was actually receiving more than giving how did you manage to sustain your relationship with the haitian government which have been identified with economic turbulence than political repression i think for the most part ii tended to my own business you know i never entered into the politics of radio one one book that i had written deals with three presidents that i knew and here i have never interfered with their how they know better than i do what the country needs and how they can see that you've been a dancer and a writer all those a writer among many many
many other things what do you want people to think about when they say gore hear the main road one compares magazine as what i would like for an epic there and i said she tried and i think that i would like for people to feel it would ever of these endeavors i went into i was doing it with my total fell this thing of synchronization i had tonight's going to happen and it very much for more than was caroline and i'd been a given that it will attack them on i find him well thank you and goodnight we can singing one night mia lehrer
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The MacNeil/Lehrer Report
Episode Number
Katherine Dunham
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NewsHour Productions
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NewsHour Productions (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
This video features an encore presentation of an interview with Katharine Dunham. She and reporter Charlayne Hunter-Gault talk about her career as a dancer, the museum she founded in East St. Louis, Illinois for housing her personal collection, and her current position as Director of the Performing Arts Training Center at Southern Illinois University.
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This record is part of the Dance section of the Soul of Black Identity special collection.
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Producing Organization: NewsHour Productions
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NewsHour Productions
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Chicago: “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report; 4040; Katherine Dunham,” 1978-08-23, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 4, 2023,
MLA: “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report; 4040; Katherine Dunham.” 1978-08-23. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 4, 2023. <>.
APA: The MacNeil/Lehrer Report; 4040; Katherine Dunham. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from