Favorite Josephine Baker Quotes and the Danse Sauvage

image of Josephine baker

Josephine Bakerphoto by Courtesy of HanaBonanza

Josephine Baker has always been one of my greatest heroines. Her dancing, beauty, talent, glamour, intellect and courage have all been examples of her exceptional grace.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker in the dressing room of the Johann Strauss Theatre in Vienna. 1928

American by birth and French by choice, the dancer, singer, actress, social activist and woman who would eventually become both an icon and muse, became a citizen of France in 1937 marrying Jean Lion, a Frenchman. Moving to France to escape the racist and hostile South in the 1930s, and later returning to the US in the 1950s fighting for social equality, Josephine became well known in France for her exquisite and unique look and humorous yet sensual dance during her time in the nation’s capital of Paris.

Zou Zou, a 1934 film starring Josephine made her the first African American woman to star in a major motion picture and the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de Guerre, after serving as a spy for the government during the second World War.

Christian Dior, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, CoCo Chanel among other painters, sculptors, designers and authors often made her their muse. Ernest Hemingway, once said Josephine was “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw”, while Pablo Picasso described her as, “tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, legs of paradise, a smile to end all smiles”, referring to her as the “Nefertiti of now”.

Josephine Baker

Josephine BakerCourtesy of JawbreakerNYC

Here is a list of some of my favorite Josephine Baker quotes:

“Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one’s soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood.”

“The secret to the fountain of youth is to think youthful thoughts.”

Performer Josephine Baker strikes a pose during her Ziegfeld Follies performance of  "The Conga" on the Winter Garden Theater stage in New York, Feb. 11, 1936.  Her appearance in Broadway's "Going to Town" is the first since she left the United States ten years ago. AP Photo

Performer Josephine Baker strikes a pose during her Ziegfeld Follies performance of “The Conga” on the Winter Garden Theater stage in New York, Feb. 11, 1936. Her appearance in Broadway’s “Going to Town” is the first since she left the United States ten years ago. AP Photo

“… I improvised, crazed by the music… Even my teeth and eyes burned with fever. Each time I leaped I seemed to touch the sky and when I regained earth it seemed to be mine alone.”

“I believe in prayer. It’s the best way we have to draw strength from heaven.”

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker in Banana Dance CostumeCourtesy of Angelsancartie

“We must change the system of education and instruction. Unfortunately, history has shown us that brotherhood must be learned, when it should be natural.”

“It [the Eiffel Tower] looked very different from the Statue of Liberty, but what did that matter? What was the good of having the statue without the liberty?”

“I did take the blows [of life], but I took them with my chin up, in dignity, because I so profoundly love and respect humanity.”

Josephine Baker

Josephine BakerCourtesy of Haverford College, Digital Libraries

“We’ve got to show that blacks and whites are treated equally in the army. Otherwise, what’s the point of waging war on Hitler?”

“I love performing. I shall perform until the day I die.”

“I’m not intimidated by anyone. Everyone is made with two arms, two legs, a stomach and a head. Just think about that.”

Autographed photo of Josephine Baker

Autographed photo of Josephine BakerCourtesy of Icollector

“Art is an elastic sort of love.”

“One day I realized I was living in a country where I was afraid to be black. It was only a country for white people. Not black. So I left. I had been suffocating in the United States… A lot of us left, not because we wanted to leave, but because we couldn’t stand it anymore… I felt liberated in Paris.”

Josephine Baker

Josephine BakerCourtesy of Hippo

“You are on the eve of a complete victory. You can’t go wrong. The world is behind you.” – Josephine, speaking at the ’63 March on Washington

“Until the March on Washington, I always had this little feeling in my stomach. I was always afraid. I couldn’t meet white American people. I didn’t want to be around them. But now that little gnawing feeling is gone. For the first time in my life I feel free. I know that everything is right now.”

 Josephine Baker in Zou Zou

Josephine Baker in Zou ZouCourtesy of espromotions

You can read more Josephine Baker Quotes on Josephine Baker’s Official Site. To read about her work in Danse Sauvage and what VOGUE said in 1925 about it, you canfind it here.

Josephine Baker

Josephine BakerCourtesy of Hippo

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About Yauri Dalencour

Yauri is a professional dancer, dance archivist and educator. She has run an arts education consultancy she founded almost ten years ago and is now head of product and brand ambassador at Dancetime Publications. Yauri’s forte as a dance journalist is writing short insightful and reflective posts as well as featured articles featuring guests and experts.

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