DJD Shakes Up Calgary Theatre with Booty and Bananas

Get ready for exotic costumes, bananas, and a whole lot of ass shaking. 

For those of you who don’t about Josephine Baker, she was one cool lady ahead of her time. And Decidedly Jazz Dance’s Year of the Horse is here to fill you in everything you don’t know about this one-of-a-kind woman. 

With barely-there outfits, wild animals for pets, and a whole lot of moola, this girl pretty much wrote the handbook on how to be famous. 

Born Freda McDonald in 1906, Miss Baker was born to a poor family in Missouri when segregation was still very much alive. Knowing that she was destined for better things, the ambitious, one-time chorus girl, set her sights on bigger things.

And during a fateful visit to Paris it just took one dance to change everything. 

Driving audience members crazy with something called the ‘Danse Sauvage’, she appeared on stage in nothing but feathers. And just like that, a star was born. 

Considering societal conventions during the era, this was kind of a big deal. 

While watching the likes of Miley or Ri-Ri strutting half naked on stage today is not all that shocking, think about how crazy it would have been to see a woman dance in nothing more than a skirt of bananas – her signature accessory – close to a hundred years ago. 

Mind = blown. 

Known as the ‘Black Pearl’, Josephine lived a life full of fur coats, diamond rings, and eligible bachelors. The ‘it girl’ of Jazz Age Paris was so in demand it’s said she received over 1,500 marriage proposals in her lifetime.

She enjoyed her male companions but apparently she was way more into her menagerie of exotic animals that included a pet leopard, chimpanzee, and parrots.

Sounds like a template for a rap song.  

So, like we were saying, if you’re looking to spice up your theatre visit then you’ll love Year of the Horse. Armed with an untamed artistic vision, 8 dancers, 3 jazz musicians and a stampede of mechanical horses; Artistic Director Kimberley Cooper has created an hour’s worth of stunning scenery, a jazz-heavy ambiance and gasp, a little bit of nudity. 

This is one show not to be missed.

And since Year of the Horse only runs until November 15th, you’d better shake a tail feather and get there soon.


Cover image by: Trudie Lee

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