Biography of Famous Dancer Josephine Baker Part 1
About the famous dancer Josephine Baker, her biography and history.
Josephine Baker (1906-1975). La Revue Negre, the 1st American Negro troupe to play Paris, opened at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees on the evening of September 25, 1925. The cast included Florence Mills and Sidney Bechet, but the real star turned out to be Josephine Baker, the 18-year-old daughter of an East St. Louis washerwoman. Baker sang in a chirping soprano voice, interspersing the lyrics with wordless, contrapuntal crooning; her dancing ranged from a fierce Charleston to slow, angular movements reminiscent of Egyptian tomb paintings. The Parisians, with their appetite for exotic personalities, immediately fell in love with her. They learned for the 1st time that black is beautiful, and French popular music and entertainment have never been the same since.
Baker's routines were always spectacular. For La Revue Negre, she made her entrance--carried in, upside down, and doing the splits--on the shoulder of a giant. Her costume was one pink flamingo feather between the legs. The next year, her number at the Folies-Bergere was even more extravagant. A huge, flower-covered globe descended from the ceiling, stopping just above the orchestra. Slowly, the ball cracked open. Inside was Josephine, wearing nothing much except a skirt of bananas and standing on a mirror tilted slightly toward the audience. She danced and sang. Then the globe closed and, to wild applause and cheers, was hoisted back to the rafters.
Her private life, most of which she lived in public, was likewise flamboyant. She took a pet cheetah to the Paris Opera, where the music made it so nervous that it jumped into the pit and attacked the musicians. Some days she could be seen walking swans, other days leopards, on leashes. During her 1st 2 years on the Continent, she received 40,000 fan letters, 2,000 of which proposed marriage.
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