In 9th grade history, students are learning about the changes to society after World War I. They have seen some of the "Dada" creations and also the new dresses of Chanel. They have also seen this picture of the famous Josephine Baker in her banana skirt. Josephine Baker was an American woman who traveled to Paris. She lived there with other artists and writers who became known as part of the "lost generation," artists who were disenchanted and searching for meaning after the devastation of World War I.
She danced in a show called La Revue Nègre, it proved to be a turning point in her career. Amongst a compilation of acts, Josephine and dance partner Joe Alex captivated the audience with the Danse Sauvage. Everything about the routine was new and exotic, and Josephine, boldly dressed in nothing but a feather skirt, worked the audience into frenzy with her uninhibited movements. She was an overnight sensation.
Just as Picasso and cubism borrowed from African elements, Josephine also paid homage to her African roots. Though she will always be known for her iconic look during her 1920's dance revue years, her later years were just as interesting....she went on to adopt 12 children from different ethnicities. She became a champion of human rights and opposed racism. She continued to live in France, but her older years were filled with support for causes that addressed injustice in the world.