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Please be advised: the Museum will be open on Wednesday, June 19, 12:00–6:00 p.m. for the Juneteenth holiday.


Katherine Dunham: Dancing with Life


With director Terry Carter, and dancers Julie Belafonte and Dr. Glory Van Scott in person 

Part of the series Changing the Picture, sponsored by Time Warner

This screening is scheduled in celebration of the 104th anniversary of Katherine Dunham’s birth. Following the screening will be a town hall discussion of the Dunham legacy with the film’s director, Terry Carter, and two celebrated Dunham dancers, Julie Belafonte and Dr. Glory Van Scott. The discussion will be moderated by Warrington Hudlin, a former Dunham drummer and trustee of Museum of the Moving Image.

Dir. Terry Carter. 2013, 73 mins. (work in progress). One of America’s most influential performing artists, Katherine Dunham introduced African Diaspora dance movements to the American stage, greatly influencing the character and development of modern dance. This documentary by the renowned actor and director Terry Carter explores Dunham’s intellectual curiosity and artistic genius. The film documents Dunham as an artist/scholar whose anthropological fieldwork shaped her vision as a choreographer and led to her creating a new dance technique. The technique is based on a series of physical exercises that enable dancers to master and execute her complex dance vocabulary. Over time, this set of exercises evolved into what is today considered an important methodology of dance: The Dunham Technique.

Featured are excerpts of recorded performances from the early years of Katherine Dunham’s career, including Carnival of Rhythm (1939), Hollywood’s first Technicolor dance film; The Spirit of Boogie-Woogie, a “soundie” short film of the Dunham dance troupe in action from the late 1930s, and the star-studded motion picture Stormy Weather (1943) which featured Lena Horne, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Katherine Dunham’s remarkable performance with the Dunham company. Included in this painstakingly researched film are clips that have never been seen in the United States including rare highlights of Dunham Company’s European performances from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s as well as scenes from the Italian motion pictures, Botta e Riposta (1952) and Mambo (1954), featuring Ms. Dunham as actress-dancer-choreographer. In addition to interviews with dancers and scholars who speak to her great artistic legacy, the film includes Katherine Dunham’s reflection on coping with the racial bigotry of the times she confronted as she traveled with her dance company.

About the filmmaker

Terry Carter is an esteemed black film and television pioneer whose career as an actor and filmmaker spans 60 years. His television acting credits include The Phil Silvers Show, Julia, McCloud, and the original series Battlestar Galactica. He starred opposite Pam Grier in the cult classic Foxy Brown. His Emmy nominated documentary, A Duke Named Ellington, won several international awards and is widely considered to be the best documentary ever made on the life and art of Duke Ellington.

Free admission. Tickets will be available first-come, first-served on the day of the program. Museum members may reserve tickets in advance. For more information about becoming a member and to join online, please click here.​​ Please note that admission to the Museum’s galleries will be free on this day.