While Ruth St. Denis was exploring orientalism, Martha Graham human psychology, and Agnes de Mille American lore, Katherine Dunham was preserving the dance traditions of Africa and the Caribbean in her own uniquely theatrical way. A black woman, a dancer, and a student of anthropology, she sought to gain respect for black dance traditions--indeed, to institutionalize them. And it's no hyperbole to say that every black dance company in the United States is indebted to her pioneering work. This is a benefit for her museum and arts programs in Saint Louis, and her cultural progeny are here to salute her in the twilight of her life: among others, dancers from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Garth Fagen Dance, Cleo Parker Robinson Dancers, Philadanco, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and our own Joel Hall Dancers. The cause is great; the dancing should be too. Check listing for details. Thursday, February 27, through Saturday at 7:30 at the AFC World Outreach Center, 7859 S. Ashland; $18-$35 ($100 ticket includes VIP seating and reception). Call 773-568-6345 for information, 312-902-1500 for tickets. --Joseph Houseal
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): SpiritWing Dance Ensemble photo.