Magazine article Dance Magazine

Grant Money Goes to Perpetuate Katherine Dunham's Work

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Grant Money Goes to Perpetuate Katherine Dunham's Work

Article excerpt

Many people are not lucky enough to be alive when the public acknowledges their worth. At 91, dance legend Katherine Dunham (see "Katherine Dunham: A One-Woman Revolution," Dance Magazine, August 2000, page 42) is not one of those. Her many accolades include a Dance Magazine Award and Kennedy Center honors. But until now, Dunham's awards haven't translated into financial support--a reality that's kept Dunham, and those who work with her, scrambling to stay afloat. In the latest tribute, however, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has given the Library of Congress $1 million to purchase and preserve the dancer/choreographer's archives. In addition, Illinois has set aside a matching $1 million to make sure Dunham's legacy remains alive in her home state.

The state legislature, led by Representative Wyvetter Younge, found money in its budget to cover the amount. "Katherine Dunham's legacy is something Illinois is behind," says Younge. "And we are anxious to see that it remains headquartered in East St. Louis, Illinois, where the Katherine Dunham Center is located." The center, which offers children's dance classes, holds a two-week summer symposium with lectures and classes for adults, and houses a museum, is a cultural oasis in the impoverished city, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri.

Younge also hopes some of the state's $1 million will go toward reopening the Katherine Dunham school, which educated the likes of Harry Belafonte and Marlon Brando, and to revitalizing her company. Before state funds can be paid out, however, the Dunham Center must provide the state with detailed information on how much improvements and upkeep will cost. …

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