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Tributes celebrate the life of Katherine Dunham

Drummers perform at Thursday's ceremony honoring the late Katherine Dunham (KWMU photo)

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU


St. Louis, MO – Hundreds of people jammed Lincoln Middle School in East St. Louis Thursday to pay tribute to the late Katherine Dunham.

Before her death May 21 at age 96, the dance pioneer lived nearly 40 years in East St. Louis and established a performing arts training center there. She created the first African-American dance company in the 1930's, and invented the movement style that bears her name.

"She brought the African and Caribbean way of life to the stage through the mind, body and spirit," said Patrick Parson, a certified Dunham Technique instructor in Toronto, who performed at the tribute.

Dunham was also known as a social activist who protested segregation and other civil rights violations.

KWMUs Kevin Lavery was there, and prepared this report.

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