Review Of "Katherine Dunham: Dancing A Life" By J. Aschenbrenner

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Also author of Katherine Dunham: Reflections on the Social and Political Contexts of Afro-American Dance (1981), Aschenbrenner (emer., anthropology, Southern Illinois Univ.) draws on her more than 25-year association with Dunham and her knowledge of Dunham's school and company. The volume is the first to contextualize Dunham's views on anthropology and dance and to focus on the ways that she employed each discipline in service of social activism. Aschenbrenner interweaves biographical sketches and details with more comprehensive discussions of Dunham's life's work. She includes reflections from Dunham's own beautifully written memoirs (A Touch of Innocence, 1959, and Island Possessed, 1969) and from students, former company members, and friends. Written in accessible prose, the book includes a clear record of the company's touring history along with descriptions of Dunham's educational and cultural programs developed in and for the community of East St. Louis. Four well-organized appendixes provide biographical details, choreographic records, major honors and awards, and information on lectures and publications. Useful endnotes and ten pages of black-and-white photographs supplement the text. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Collections serving scholars and practitioners of dance at all levels.


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