How is josephine baker banana skirt and banana dance

How is josephine baker banana dance ?

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Joséphine Baker and her famous banana belt

On October 2, 1925, at the Champs Elysées Theatre , Joséphine Baker, a young black American dancer, gave a unique performance…

That evening, during La Revue nègre, Joséphine Baker banana dances a frenzied Charleston with her partner Joe Alex, with, for only outfit, a feather belt. The provocative choreography of the 19-year-old girl earned her a dazzling success: the world’s first black celebrity was born in Paris.

La Revue nègre symbolizes the taste for the exoticism of the Roaring Twenties. It is indeed the first musical spectacle to be performed in the French capital, composed exclusively of African-American artists. If the scandal is at the rendezvous, the success is also since the room is “full” from the day of the premiere. Building on her fame, Joséphine became the leader of the famous Folies Bergère in 1926. It is in this cabaret that feathers give way to the famous banana belt …

The banana, an erotic … and racist symbol

Adored, Joséphine embodies the colonial fantasy of France. Boyish cut, she dances with vitality, releasing her almost nakedness without embarrassment. Its banana belt around the waist embodies eroticism and sustains the fantasies of French society about the supposed populations and cultures of Africa … So-called “wild” and “dominated” countries. The banana, fruit of the Tropics, is associated with black populations. The Revue nègre and the Folies Bergère are the targets of numerous racist and conservative comments. Robert de Flers, member of the Académie Française and Figaro critic evokes “a lamentable transatlantic exhibitionism which seems to bring us back to the monkey in less time than it took us to descend”.

Joséphine Baker, a committed artist

Behind the extravagant artist who shakes up conventions, Joséphine Baker is also a committed woman. In 1940, she joined the French Resistance and had to go into exile following the ban on Jewish and black artists from performing on stage. Throughout the war, she actively served the Free France of General de Gaulle, as a spy and then as an ambassador. When peace returned, she put her popularity at the service of the struggle for black emancipation in the United States, her country of origin. She opens her shows to African Americans, at a time when segregation still denies them access to public spaces before supporting the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King.

Josephine Baker’s banana belt therefore alone embodied the racial prejudices of colonialist France in the interwar years. However, Josephine, free and sensual, managed to extricate herself from this stereotype to become a true muse of the Roaring Twenties. As for the banana, the dancer brought it into the collective imagination, at a time when the French were consuming it more and more.

Joséphine Baker Biography

In Saint-Louis, Missouri, Joséphine Baker was born on June 3, 1906. Actress, magazine leader and famous American singer, Joséphine Baker embodies the first black star and has been French since 1937.

During his life, the star did not stop using his immense notoriety to participate in the fight against racism and especially offers his support to the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King.

Joséphine Baker died on April 12, 1975, in the French capital.

First African-American star

Thirteen-year-old, having dropped out of school, Freda Josephine McDonald is leaving the family home and already working as a waitress. Three years earlier, she had already won her first dance competition.

At the age of fifteen, her particular dance pleased and aroused the interest that she was hired for a vaudeville show with the Choeur St-Louis before leaving for New York. On Broadway, she indeed appeared in reviews such as The chocolate dandies of 1924.

At the beginning of October 1925, Joséphine Baker was the first dancer to perform in the show called “La danse sauvage” at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

If at first, her suggestive performance of dance while being dressed simply in an original loincloth aroused a feeling of scandal in her audience, she very quickly won the sympathy of the public in Paris. Moreover, she subsequently became a model of inspiration for cubists such as Pablo Picasso, writers like Ernest Hemingway or even designers like Christian Dior.

On the other hand, incorporating Charleston steps in her interpretation of “La danse sauvage”, Joséphine Baker awakened the interest of her Parisian audience for jazz and African-American melodies. Although meeting with considerable success, the dancer with Afro-American origins is still struggling to establish herself in France where the image of the colonization of the black people and the African continent is still alive.

Continuing her breakthrough, Joséphine Baker toured Europe and then found herself at the head of the magazine Folies bergère two years later. For this show, on stage, she has a leopard for company, spicing up her show with a whimsical note and chills.

This year 1927, also marks the debut of the magazine leader in the song. One of his successful songs dates from 1931, “J’ai deux amours”, composed by Vincent Scotto.

Trying herself to the cinema as well, however, she will not meet as much success as in the magazine or the music hall. However, let us mention his notable cinematographic performances in films like “Zouzou” alongside Jean Gabin and released in 1934 or “Princesse Tam Tam” the following year.

The Second World War

In 1939, Josephine Baker made an inconclusive American tour. The American public indeed reproaches her for being “too” French when she speaks particularly in French. A year later, she returned to France and married the French Jean Lion, making her a French citizen.

When the Second World War broke out, Josephine Baker swapped her stage costumes part time for those of the Paris counter-espionage. She then rubbed shoulders with people of high society, also worked with the Red Cross and then, in 1940, became a secret agent of Free France.

Throughout the war, until the Liberation, Josephine Baker was in charge of major missions and used to hide her messages from her sheet music.

Encouraging the soldiers at the front with her songs and working with the Red Cross during the Liberation, the star will later receive the Legion of Honor for her contributions and activities during the Second World War.

Fight against racism and other commitments

Engaging in her own way in the struggle during the war of 1939-1944, Joséphine Baker nonetheless forgets to pursue her artistic career although somewhat slowed down. It is thus with the poster of the film “Princess Tam Tam” of 1935, and appears again in the film “Moulin Rouge” of 1941 with the realization of Yves Mirande.

Married half a dozen times, Josephine Baker was never a true mother. She has indeed adopted many children from different origins not only to satisfy her need to be a mother, but also to testify to her fight against racism.

The twelve children she adopted were Korean, Finnish, French, Japanese, Ivorian, Colombian, Canadian, Algerian, Moroccan, Venezuelan, and French Jew. With her children, whom she affectionately calls her “rainbow tribe”, Joséphine Baker acquires and settles with her husband at the time, the conductor Jo Bouillon, in the Château des Milandes in 1947.

At the estate, she surrounded herself with several servants and staff and ended up exhausting her fortune.

In her fight against racism, Joséphine Baker continued to perform concerts and was indignant against the Emmet Till affair in 1955. Supporting the fight of Martin Luther King, she appeared in the ranks of the March to Washington of 1963.

Almost ruined, the princess – and her close friend – Grace of Monaco comes to her aid by offering her a villa and helping her financially until the end of her life.

In 1975, Joséphine Baker fell ill during yet another review in Paris. She will die on April 12 of this year from a cerebral hemorrhage.

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