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Josephine Baker in the Harlem Renaissance
Transcript of Josephine Baker in the Harlem Renaissance
How did she relate to the Harlem Renaissance?
This is one of her earlier performances. In it, we see a silly playful Josephine Baker melting our worries away with each step. In reality, this doesn't really relate to the Harlem movement at all. This piece was near the end of the movement, which goes to show one of the directions the activists went in. Baker was not a strong activist to start, although a performer,her works did not convey the same messages as the movement. This is probably why she went on to perform in Europe, where she could put a new twist on her act without those that grew up in Harlem like she would deface her name as a performer.
Josephine Baker (Freda Josephine McDonald)
Born: June 3, 1906 (Missouri)
Died: April 12, 1975 (Paris, France)
Known for being a civil rights activists, dancer and singer
Nicknamed: "Black Venus"
Things to know:
Young During Harlem Renaissance
Lived to become one of Europe's highest paid performers.
"Surviving the 1917 riots in East St. Louis, Illinois, where the family was living, Josephine Baker ran away a few years later at age thirteen and began dancing in vaudeville and on Broadway" (women's world).
Her mother had given up her dreams of becoming a music-hall dancer and their father abandoned them when she was a child.
They lived in Vaudeville.
At the age of 8 Josephine went to work 8 hour shifts to support her family.
During the Harlem Renaissance
She was in New York City during the majority of the Harlem Renaissance.
Performed in the Plantation Club, on Broadway (in Shuffle Along 1921), Adelaide Hall, and the Chocolate Dandies (1924).
After doing a posistion of the chorus line where she would "forget" each move with comedy until the finale, where she would do everything with more complexity, she was dubbed the best performer of Vaudeville.
This was her rise to fame!
During the era,she performed but only for integrated crowds. Both a singer and dancer (also practically comedian) she used her hardships to create a silly masterpiece of giggles and controversy. Josephine used her controversy to get fame (something we find common now), but to break barriers on stage and in the crowd.
She would do more activist work in the 1950's, working with NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr.
Josephine is best known for her controversial dances. At first they mimicked the jazz of the Harlem Renaissance,and used popular dance moves such as the Charleston but they eventually became sultry and sexy.
When the Harlem Renaissance was falling apart, Josephine's direct connections, other than choosing not to perform to segregated crowds, were overshadowed by her rise to stardom and new exotic performances.
While she was dancing, she would make hilariously silly faces, or would sing along with jazz groups.