Interview With Katherine Dunham
Nov. 18, 1999
[Testing of recording equipment and statement of date as November 18th]. Katherine Dunham and Constance Valis Hill speak about photographs they are looking at of the musical comedy Cabin in the sky; Dunham tells an anecdote about having to alter their costumes in Boston, Mass.; an anecdote about Dooley Wilson and Ethel Waters; more discussion of photographs; the song Honey in the honeycomb including the extent of George Balanchine's contribution to the choreography set to that scene; Balanchine's first seeing her company [Katherine Dunham Company] in Chicago; the influence on her style of her training with Ludmilla Speranzeva; Balanchine's idea, originally, to have a Russian song in the opening scene in Cabin in the sky; reminiscences of Balanchine and Vernon Duke; more on the choreography in Cabin in the sky; the nature of the collaboration with Balanchine including the origins of Balanchine's idea for the Egyptian ballet [the scene set to My old Virginia home on the Nile?]; [short gap]; more on the choreography of Honey in the honeycomb; the racism she encountered in Hollywood; her thoughts on the relationship between her Plantation dances and Agnes de Mille's Americana dances; her admiration for ballet and its role in her work; Balanchine, her work Octoroon ball, and racism in the U.S.; discussion of possible reconstruction of Honey in the honeycomb; tells an anecdote about Ethel Waters and the dance set to the song Dem bones; more on Honey in the honeycomb; how helpful Balanchine was to her; the influence of the Chauve Souris theatrical troupe on nightclub acts in the U.S.; not being consulted with respect to the film version of Cabin in the sky [ends abruptly].
1 sound disc (ca. 63 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.