Interview with Katherine Dunham
[Ca. 2 min. of testing of equipment and introductory conversation.] Katherine Dunham speaks with Constance Valis Hill about the musical comedy Cabin in the sky including the reasons she was interested in participating [with her company, Katherine Dunham Company] in the show; George Balanchine's idea… More »
[Ca. 2 min. of testing of equipment and introductory conversation.] Katherine Dunham speaks with Constance Valis Hill about the musical comedy Cabin in the sky including the reasons she was interested in participating [with her company, Katherine Dunham Company] in the show; George Balanchine's idea to have the show open with a Russian dirge and Ethel Waters' objection; her impressions of Balanchine at the time, including his humanity; the warm relationship between Balanchine and Dukelsky [Vernon Duke]; Dukelsky as a composer; the music of the show including what Dunham sees as her influence on it, in particular the Hell scene [the scene set to Fugue]; Dukelsky's and Balanchine's trip to Cuba; briefly, Boris Aronson, John Pratt, and the costumes for the show; the song My old Virginia home on the Nile, including the extent to which Balanchine helped her with the choreography set to that song; reasons for her use of fantasy and exotic elements; the combining of Virgina and Egypt as a smooth mixing of African elements into Americana; very briefly, some of her other Americana dances of this era, for example, Plantation dances; her aesthetic insight regarding art and science; dreams and fulfillment of dreams as the essence of art; the three main categories of dance she tried to include: primitive or exotic, ballet, and Americana; more on her Plantation dances including how she interviewed old people to reconstruct traditional steps [short gap]; Balanchine's help with her choreography set to Honey and the honeycomb; Hill plays a recording from 1964 of the song Honey in the honeycomb as Dunham and Hill comment; Dunham speaks about her using the Honey and the honeycomb number in night clubs; sing-speaks some of the lyrics from the song; Dunham looks at photographs and identifies a scene as Love me tomorrow; Dunahm speaks further about My old Virginia home on the Nile, including her costume and the possible location of the sheet music for this song; Balanchine's idea for a Bedouin-style costume for Dunham; Dunham sings a few bars [of the song Balanchine had originally suggested that Dunham sing in this scene]; Honey in the honeycomb as the most important song in the production for her personally; how as an artist she avoided segregated housing; her romantic interest in Balanchine at the time; the freedom in movement in Dunham's choreography as attractive to Balanchine due to his Georgian temperament.« Less
Sound quality is good. There is some extraneous noise, in particular in the first few minutes as well as an occasional extraneous hiss due to distortion in the original recording. However, the speakers voices are easily intelligible
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