Articles

Bound to the Banana: Re-Evaluating the Discourse Surrounding Josephine Baker’s “Banana Dance”

Author: Stephanie Engel (Tufts University)

  • Bound to the Banana: Re-Evaluating the Discourse Surrounding Josephine Baker’s “Banana Dance”

    Articles

    Bound to the Banana: Re-Evaluating the Discourse Surrounding Josephine Baker’s “Banana Dance”

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Abstract

This paper dissects one of Josephine Baker’s early performances at the Folies Bergère, the "Banana Dance," to evaluate the effectiveness of the subversive modes Baker employed to garner cultural capital in the Western market. Through staged environment, ecological props, physical gestures, and alterations to her appearance, the paper's analysis will show how Baker utilized Western standards of Black bodies through her exterior to perform a subtextual image of Black counterculture to her awaiting audiences. The paper will also detail opinions expressed by various groups who observed her work and how these conflicting views help portray the depth and complexity of Baker’s performance style.

Keywords: Josephine Baker, Folies Bergère, Banana Dance, environment, ecological props, Black counterculture, Black bodies

How to Cite:

Engel, S., (2024) “Bound to the Banana: Re-Evaluating the Discourse Surrounding Josephine Baker’s “Banana Dance””, the Black Theatre Review 2(2), 19-33. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/tbtr.5845

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Published on
26 Mar 2024
Peer Reviewed