This legend is Katherine Duhnam and aside from forming the first self-supported African-American owned dance company, forming her first dance school for black youth while still in high school, she taught your faves how to dance:
Her alumni included many future celebrities, such as Eartha Kitt, who, as a teenager, won a scholarship to her school and later became one of her dancers before moving on to a successful singing career. Others who attended her school included James Dean, Gregory Peck, Jose Ferrer, Jennifer Jones, Shelley Winters, Sidney Poitier, Shirley MacLaine, Doris Duke, Toni Cade Bambara and Warren Beatty.
Marlon Brando frequently dropped in to play the bongo drums, and jazz musician Charles Mingus held regular jam sessions with the drummers.
This photo of Eartha Kitt dancing with James Dean was likely taken at her studio.
She lived a remarkable life, having studied, articulated, and recorded the basis for the African, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latino movement in modern dance. During her studies in Haiti, she fell in the love with the country, living there for many years and eventually becoming a mambo (priestess) in Vodun religion.
She refused to perform for non-racially integrated audiences and turned down a lucrative studio contract when producers asked her to replace her darker-skinned company members.
Brazil created a law that made racial discrimination in public places illegal, because she publicized the racism she faced there, in 1950.
She went on a 47 day hunger strike in the 1992 at the age of 83 to protest the forced repatriation of Haitian refugees.
In 2006, she died peacefully in her sleep at 96 years old.
She can watch her story here.
Hers is a life I would love to see depicted on the big screen.
i love learning the history that was ignored during my schooling. bless you tumblr, and bless you katherine dunham!