The Library of Congress has received a $1 million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to support a two-year program (Dec. 1, 2000, through Nov. 30, 2002) to support the Katherine Dunham Legacy Project at the Library of Congress. The purpose of the project is to purchase the Katherine Dunham archives; to preserve materials that document and augment the Dunham legacy; and to expand educational programs.
This is the second grant the Library has received from the DDCF in as many years. Last year the foundation gave another $1 million grant as a "Gift to the Nation" in honor of the Library's Bicentennial to purchase the Martha Graham archives, support performances of the Martha Graham Dance Company and to document Graham works.
"We look forward to working in partnership with Miss Dunham and the Dunham Centers on this important and innovative project," said Dr. Billington. "The Library continues to be extremely grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for their support for our dance programs and collections."
The purchase of the Dunham archives will, first, allow the Library to take possession of the collection of film, video, sound and print materials that document the life and work of Katherine Dunham. Second, the grant will be used to document and augment the Dunham legacy through the preservation of existing materials; to videotape oral histories of Dunham dancers; and to make the resources more available to the public. Finally, the grant will be used to expand educational programs at the Dunham Center in East St. Louis, Ill.
Olga Garay, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, noted: "The work of Katherine Dunham has had major national and international impact. We are pleased to work with the Library of Congress to ensure her legacy is preserved for future generations."
Katherine Dunham, born in 1909 in Glen Ellyn, Ill., is an American dancer and choreographer who is best known for her choreography based on African American, Caribbean, West African and South American sources. As a young dancer and student at the University of Chicago, she became interested in anthropology and eventually pursued studies in both dance and anthropology. She received a Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship to study the dance forms of the Caribbean, spending time in Jamaica and Haiti. Ms. Dunham's field work helped develop a now recognized subdiscipline of anthropology and also led to Ms. Dunham's own understanding'both intellectual and kinesthetic'of the African roots of black dance in the West Indies. From that beginning, she began to develop for herself the first African American 'serious' dance technique.
Upon her return to the United States, Ms. Dunham went to New York to perform and choreograph the new type of American Black dance that she was creating. Her work was well received, and in 1947 she created the Katherine Dunham School of Cultural Arts Inc. She continued to refine her technique and to expand her choreography, transmitting that body of knowledge to succeeding generations of dance students. In 1964 Ms. Dunham became an artist-in-residence at Southern Illinois University and then professor and director of the Performing Arts Training Center there. She has continued to teach the Dunham technique to young dancers and has opened the Dunham Museum in East St. Louis, where she brings an awareness of Haitian and African art to area residents. Ms. Dunham was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983, and she was named one of the first 100 of "America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures" by the Dance Heritage Coalition earlier this year.
In the last 15 years, the Library has become more involved in documenting the efforts of innovators in the field of dance and collecting dance-related materials. Among these are the Bob Fosse-Gwen Verdon Collection, the Lester Horton Dance Collection, the Erick Hawkins Archives and the Martha Graham Collection. This most recent grant from the DDCF allows the Library to provide important leadership in supporting the Katherine Dunham legacy and to preserve an important dance collection based on her work.
Doris Duke, a lifelong philanthropist, distributed some $400 million, often anonymously, to a variety of charitable causes. When she died in 1993, she left her fortune, including her properties, to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
The mission of the foundation, which was established in 1996, is to improve the quality of people's lives by nurturing the arts, protecting and restoring the environment, seeking cures for diseases and helping to protect children from abuse and neglect. With approximately $1.6 billion in assets, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is among the largest philanthropies in the United States. As of December 1999, the foundation has awarded nearly $120 million in grants. Additional information can be found on the foundation's Web site at www.ddcf.org.