Saturday, February 13, 2010

Josephine Baker Dances the Black Bottom in 1926 or 1927

Probably everyone knows all about Josephine Baker (19o6-1975) - her beginnings in the Harlem Renaissance of St Louis and on Broadway, Les Folies Bergeres in Paris in 1925 and her famous erotic bare-breasted dance, performed in pretty much just a string of bananas. Revealing a daring and theatricality that would be well understood in sectors of the our community.

I've posted on her famous banana dance, filmed on the stage of Les Folies Bergeres in 1927 by an American director. The (recently discovered) footage is however at a great distance, blurry and Josephine is covered up.

What's great about the studio-filmed performance here is that it's close-up. You can really appreciate the woman's extraordinary vitality and almost electric-charged exuberance. As well as her comic extreme face pulling, somewhat akin to Fanny Brice.

Much has been said about all the attendant dangers of Josephine presenting an image of unbridled 'native' sensuality - but in the end there's still the power and joy in the performance to be appreciated.

And if needs be I keep in mind Josephine's adoption of 12 multi-ethnic children - the Rainbow Tribe.

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