#FBF: Celebrate Josephine Baker, Beyoncé of the Jazz Age

PEOPLE. We made it. It’s finally Friday. (More like Fri-YAY, amirite?) We have a special #FlashBackFriday for you today: The NAACP named today, May 20, Josephine Baker Day.

And before Bob Mackie's costumes, there were Jojo's outfits. Photo courtesy of Dance Magazine archives.

Before Marilyn, before Madonna, before Beyoncé, there was Josephine Baker, the international It Girl of the Jazz Age. The girl had major moves (and quads):

Josephine Baker, high kick queen.

Famous for her beauty, risqué performances (and costumes!)—not to mention her pet leopard—Baker became a Parisian star. Today, we credit her with challenging the social perceptions of black women and paving the way for modern-day black female superstars.

If you think that’s a bit of stretch, then you haven’t seen Beyoncé’s performance at Fashion Rocks in 2006, where she decked herself out in a banana skirt as an homage to Baker.

Now watch a vintage video of Baker performing at the Folies Bergère for comparison (she enters on the giant tree branch):

So if you plan on doing any kind of dancing tonight—at the studio, out with friends or in the privacy of your own home—channel Josephine!

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.