Jazz Cleopatra Rose

Phyllis Rose, Author Doubleday Books $22.5 (16p) ISBN 978-0-385-24891-4
With the searching intellectuality that has distinguished her literary biographies, Rose ( Parallel Lives ) takes on what is for her a surprising subject: the life and work of American expatriate dancer, singer and entertainer Josephine Baker. Born in 1906 in St. Louis, Mo., Baker--whose roots were black and Native American--had endured the early departure of her father, abuse as a domestic servant in the homes of white people and the brutal East St. Louis race riots of 1917 before her childhood was over. The ethos of jazz--freedom--offered her a way out. Employed at 13 as a dresser for a touring black vaudeville show, Baker graduated into the chorus lines of other such troupes until recruited in 1925 to dance in a black revue to be launched in Paris. There her brilliantly uninhibited performances won her immediate and lasting fame (``Hips, stomach, and rump had never moved so violently''). Not simply the story of a complex and influential woman, this indispensable biography treats in full the two cultures--American and Continental--that formed Baker, and sets a new standard for critical studies of performing artists. Photos. First serial to Mirabella. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Hardcover - 978-0-517-17903-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-55927-116-5
Paperback - 321 pages - 978-0-679-73133-7
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