Southern Illinois University Carbondale SCRC Text (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
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Katherine Dunham's Revue Sophisticated and Colorful
Katherine Dunham's Revue Sophisticated and Colorful
TitleKatherine Dunham's Revue Sophisticated and Colorful
CreatorInge, William
DescriptionReview of Dunham's Tropical Revue which refers to her sophisticated interpretation of the native dances of the South Pacific and refers to the costumes as an integral part of the show
CollectionSCRC Text (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
SubcollectionKatherine Dunham Papers
Original Publication SourceSt. Louis Star-Times
Place WrittenSt. Louis, MO
Subjects -titlesTropical Revue
Subjects -peopleDunham, Katherine ; Pratt, John (costumes) ; Wasserman, Dale (stage lighting) ; Ohardieno, Roger (Dunham's partner) ; Ellis, Lucille (dancer) ; French, Laverne (dancer) ; Williams, Lavinia (dancer) ; Gomez, Tommy (dancer) ; Capo, Bobby (singer) ; Dowdy, Helen (songwriter)
Other topicsAmerican Theater ; Dixieland Band
Collection ID/Box#FP20_7_F1DUNHAM_B102_F20_07
Rights StatementFor permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Phone: + 1 (618) 453-2516. Email:
TranscriptKatherine Dunham's Revue Sopliisiicated And Colorful
Katherine Dunham's "Ti'opical i Revue'' which opened to a capacity ! houfe at the Amencan Theater last night is satisractory proof to this reviewer that the Negroes do much better when directing their own tal¬ ents than-^^'hen they put themselves in the hands ot others.
For once, these talented people
arc allowed to be them.selves and to
CKpress "their own irrepressible high ]
tpirils" ill a way that is indisenous- i
ly their own. As a result, "Tropi¬ cal Revue" stands head and shoul¬ ders above olher all-Negro shows, including "Cabin In the Sky" and even "Povgy and Bess.''
However, if anyone tries to sell you the ^how by describing it as a primitive orgy^ don't be taken in. JV^ an orgy, all right, but it's hardly jjrimitlve, for Mi^s Dunham has taken the native dances and tribal rituals of the South Pacific isles and Interjjretsd them in lier own sophisticated way. Also, the set¬ tings and costumes of John Pratt and the stage lighting of DafeWas- serman represent the product of very subtle and creative minds that know precisely how to achieve the effects de.^ired. t
The revue is !n three parts; the first being composed mainly of familiar dances such as the bolero ^d the rbumba; the second, of ^ibal rituals and West Indies shore scenes and pantomimes, and the third, of North American Ne^ro dances from fhe eaj]y plantation variety to the latest jive. From beginning to end ihe stage squirms and shakes with color, and there is
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calling you "Baldy/^
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not a single moment that does not demand your attention.
Although the motivatine force and the most colorful personality ot the group. Miss Dunham U not the nimble and energetic performer that certain other members of her company are. Ho^vever, she is stun¬ ning to look at, she wears gorgeou.s and outlandish castumes, and she is a subtle pantomimist, Roger Ohardieno, her partner: LucHle Ellis. Laveme French, Lavinia Wil¬ liams and Tommy Gomes are all exceptional dancers who move with a fluid grace that makes the aver¬ age ballet dancer look clumsy; they are capable of the most langorous movement and of the most frenetic, and in the faster dances thev move with a dart-like precision that is almost too swift for the eye to follow.
Besides Miss Dunham and her company, there are Bobbv Capo, a handsome Cuban lad ^vith an en¬ gaging voice, and the original Dixie¬ land Band, which recalls some nos¬ talgic jazz tunes of an earlier day. Also there are son^s by Helen Dow¬ dy, and Miss Dunham herself ren¬ ders a few Latin-American numbers I In a style characteriaed by in- [ nnendo.
I In a just summary of the show, however, too much cannot be said about the constumes. To dismiss (hem as bizarre, colorful and imag¬ inative seems like understatement, ilor actually they were a living and breathing part of the entire show. To describe them as being com¬ posed of bandanas, feathers and iiandy materials means nothing im- less you can see how they were put together. Of com-sc. there were ^cme scenes that required very lit¬ tle in the way of costumes, but they were interesting to watch also.
In the finale Mif.s Dunham had ia lot of fun changing outfits be^ itween curtain calls, appearing after each rise of the curtain in a more (exotic outfit. When I left she had ¦made five such appearances and ithe audience still was applauding. 1 Ordinarily I would have been will- u^, g to stay all night to watch her , parade her wardrobe, but a dead¬ line was calling. For all I know, she's still taking her calls.
Original Formatreview
Original dimensions (cm.)18 x 11
Digital Object TypeImage
Digital File Format.tif
Digital File PublisherSpecial Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
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