Josephine’s World

Josephine Baker Dancing

The talent of world-famous dancer Josephine Baker ushered in The Jazz Age of the 1920s.  Ms. Baker was born in 1906 in St. Louis’ former African American neighborhood of Chestnut Valley. As a child, she performed and absorbed the jazz aesthetics of the vibrant theater district through mentorship of her locally-famous cabaret-dancer mother and musician father. Her legacy is that she famously spread jazz dance to Europe and the world through her stage and screen performances.

Josephine’s World is a dance documentary that explores the communities that made it possible for Josephine Baker to rise to stardom.

Our film examines how the rich culture of Black St. Louis shaped her and how the world of entertainment framed her image and career.

Many scholars note St. Louis’ contributions to the music side of jazz’s birth and development. The historical record falls silent when it comes to dancing bodies and the birth of early jazz dance – here in St. Louis.  

We are combining historical research and choreography and bringing together people from multiple St. Louis institutions. We are part of a vibrant dance community that honors and recognizes those who danced before us on this land.

Dance makes history come alive.