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Katherine Dunham

Katherine Dunham, American choreographer, anthropologist, dancer.


  • Dunham, Katherine was born on June 22, 1909 in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, United States. Daughter of Albert Millard and Fanny June (Taylor) Dunham.

  • Education

    • Bachelor in Anthropology, University Chicago, 1936. Master of Science, University Chicago. Doctor of Philosophy, Northwestern University.

      LhD (honorary), MacMurray College, 1972.


    • Director, teacher of own schools of dance, theatre and cultural arts, Chicago, New York City, Haiti, Stockholm and Paris, from 1931. Professional dancer, from 1934. Choreographer for theatre, opera, motion pictures and television.

      Member Chicago Opera Company, 1935-1936. Supervisor Chicago City Theatre Project on cultural studies, 1939. Dance director Labor Stage, 1939-1940.

      Producer, director Katherine Dunham Dance Company, from 1945. Established dance school Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1961. Advisor to First World Festival on Negro Art United States Department State, 1966.

      Artistic and technical advisor to President of Senegal, 1966-1967. Cultural counselor and director Performing Arts Training Center, Southern Illinois University, East St. Louis, from 1967. Professor Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, from 1968.



    President Dunham Fund for Research and Development Cultural Arts Inc. Founder Foundation Study of Arts and Sciences of Vodun. Vice president Foundation Development and Preservation Cultural Arts Inc.

    Board directors National Institute Aging, Illinois Arts Council. Member Illinois committee John F Kennedy Center Alliance Arts Education, American Council Arts in Education, Arts Worth/Intercultural Council. Consultant Interamerican Institute Ethnomusicology and Folklore, Caracas, Venezuela, National Endowment of the Humanities.

    Member review committee Organization American States. Member advisory board Modern Organization Dance Evolvement. Member of AEA, Screen Actors Guild, American Society of Composers, Lincoln Academy, Royal Anthropological Society, Negro Actors Guild, Institute Black World (board directors), Black Academy Arts and Sciences, Writers Guild, American Federation Radio Artists, American Guild Music Artists, American Guild Variety Artists (board governors 1943-1949), Sigma Epsilon.



    Horseback riding, cooking, painting, walking.


    • Married Jordis McCoo (divorced ). Married John Thomas Pratt, July 10, 1941 (deceased January 1986). 1 child Marie Christine Pratt.
    Katherine Dunham
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    Died May 21, 2006
    (aged 96)
    • 1936
      University Chicago
    • 1972
      MacMurray College
    • 1935 - 1936
      member, Chicago Opera Company
    • 1939
      supervisor Chicago City Theatre Project on cultural studies
    • 1939 - 1940
      dance director, Labor Stage
    • 1961
      established dance school Port-au-Prince
    • 1966
      advisor, to First World Festival on Negro Art United States Department State
    • 1966 - 1967
      artist, ic and technical advisor to President of Senegal
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