The dance techniques of Katherine Dunham will be explored during a Division of Continuing Education course March 5 through March 28 at UMSL. (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Legendary dancer Katherine Dunham was an innovator in combining individualistic dance movements of Caribbean and African cultures with European-style ballet. Her intense research of primitive rhythms of various cultures explored the foundation of movement, its form and function. Dance instructor Theo Jamison will bring her dance method to the University of Missouri–St. Louis with the Katherine Dunham Dance course.

The course focuses on the Dunham Dance Technique (a way of life), which involves body, mind and spirit. Dance students will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from March 5 to March 28.

Katherine Dunham had one of the most successful 20th century dance careers in American and European theater. Teen to adult dance students, dance instructors and choreographers, and professional dancers interested in learning the Dunham Technique are encouraged to take this four-week course at the UMSL Dance Studio.

Dunham has been universally studied and praised as an artist, not only in regard to her dance, but also with respect to her studies in anthropology and sociology. At age 21, she formed her first ballet company in 1930, and opened her first dance school in Chicago in 1933. In 1939, she became the dance director of the New York Labor Stage, and in 1945 opened the Dunham School of Dance in New York.

The Dunham Company toured through the 1950s, travelling throughout the United States, South America, Europe and Asia. In the early 1960s, the dance company disbanded, and Dunham focused on teaching and establishing dance schools, choreography and community arts projects. Dunham died in 2006 at the age of 96, but her legacy still lives on in the Dunham Technique.

Instructor Theo Jamison is program director for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center for the Performing Arts, formerly known as the Katherine Dunham Center for the Performing Arts. Jamison has been trained by original members of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, is certified to teach the Dunham Technique and has served as Dunham’s demonstrator for more than 15 years.

To register for the dance course, visit the course listing or call 314-516-5974. For more information regarding the Dunham Dance Technique, contact Rob Scoggins, assistant professor of dance at UMSL, at 314-516-4649.

The Division of Continuing Education at UMSL provides courses, programs, conferences, and events that fulfill degree completion, professional development and personal enrichment goals for the lifelong learner. For more information, visit

Leslie Patterson

Leslie Patterson