Josephine Baker is one of the most iconic dancers in history. She is the epitome of glamour and femininity. She was also a singer, activist, actress and a bisexual icon. She is the definition of #PerforminColor. She was born to parents who were also performers. She joined a Vaudeville troupe at 15, where she had success in performing. She toured with her troupe until she relocated to NYC in the 1920s. She was an ample part of the Harlem Renaissance. Then she moved to Paris.
(Baker in banana costume, 1927)
She was the first black woman to star in a motion picture. The film was called Siren of the Tropics. It tells the story of a native girl who falls in love with a French man. The picture below, (Baker in a banana skirt) is known as a symbol of the Roaring Twenties. She was one of the most famous figures, known for her extraordinary dancing and singing and her lavish costumes.
(Baker in dressing room of Strand Theater in NYC, 1961)
In the Red Scare era of the 1950s, she was barred from the U.S due to a false accusation of being a communist. She used her platform to combat racism and not perform in clubs that were segregated.She even adopted 12 children and called them her rainbow tribe.
Queer audiences were enthralled by her extravagance and activism. She was never the norm, she had a larger than life personality. Her movement of sensuality and eroticism captivated audiences. Her influence in dancing can be seen in vogueing today.
Josephine Baker is iconic. She expressed herself fully and everyone knows her name. She had character, class and was vibrant. She is the true definition of #PerforminColor.
(Baker in Paris, 1970)