Katherine Dunham forms Les Ballet Negres
In 1931, when she was only 21, Katherine Dunham (1910–2006 Dancer, anthropologist, social worker, activist, author) formed a group called Ballets Nègres, one of the first black ballet companies in the United States.
In 1928, while still an undergraduate, Dunham began to study ballet with Ludmilla Speranzeva, a Russian dancer who had settled in Chicago, having come to the United States with the Franco-Russian vaudeville troupe Le Théâtre de la Chauve-Souris directed by impresario Nikita Balieff. With the help of her brother, who was then attending the University of Chicago on scholarship, where she studied anthropology. There Dunham met at the University of Chicago she studied ballet with Mark Turbyfill and Ruth Page, who became prima ballerina of the Chicago Opera. Dunham teamed up with Page and Turbyfill to form what has been called the first black concert dance group, the Ballet Nègre, which made its debut in 1931 at Chicago’s annual Beaux Arts Ball. One of the numbers on the program is Negro Rhapsody. After a single, well-received performance in 1931, which is well received. No engagements followed, and the group disbands.
A few years later Dunham formed her own company, the Negro Dance Group, and appeared with the Chicago Symphony and at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1934.
Contemporary Black Biography – http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/dance-biographies/katherine-dunham
Library of Congress Timeline – http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/html/dunham/dunham-timeline.html
OTHER HAPPENINGS IN 1931
- Mar 3 “Star Spangled Banner” officially becomes US national anthem by congressional resolution
- May 1 Empire State Building opens in New York City
- Jun 12 Al Capone is indicted on 5,000 counts of prohibition & perjury
- Oct 1 The second (and current) Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is opened in New York.
- Oct 18 American gangster Al Capone convicted of tax evasion
Oct 24 George Washington Bridge linking New York City and New Jersey dedicated, opens the next day
- Nov 13 Hattie Caraway (D-AK) appointed first US woman senator
- Mar 5 Gandhi & British viceroy Lord Irwin sign pact
- Nov 7 Chinese People’s Republic proclaimed by Mao Zedong
Dec 11 Statute of Westminster gives complete legislative independence to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland (Free State), and Newfoundland (not then part of Canada)
Arts & Sciences
- Feb 14 The original “Dracula”, starring Bela Lugosi as the titular vampire, is released
- Feb 21 Alka Seltzer introduced
Jun 9 1st rocket-powered aircraft design patented (Robert Goddard)
- Nov 1 Dupont introduces synthetic rubber
- Dec 25 NY’s Metropolitan Opera broadcasts an entire opera over radio=
Human and Civil Rights
- Aug 15 Roy Wilkins joined NAACP as asst secretary
- Jul 26 25th Tour de France won by Antonin Magne of France
- Aug 18 Lou Gehrig hitless in Detroit, his 1,000th consecutively played game