Performing Arts Training Center (PATC) — East St. Louis, IL


Katherine Dunham was initially invited by Southern Illinois University in 1964 to serve as artist-in-residence for a brief term.  While there, she directed and choreographed a production of the opera Faust.

Later, in 1967 Miss Dunham returned to Southern Illinois University as a visiting professor at the Edwardsville campus and with the support of the university, she moved to East St. Louis and created the Performing Arts Training Center (PATC).  PATC offered the urban youth of Illinois an opportunity to learn about African cultural history while employing the Dunham Technique as a tool for socialization and exposure through the performing arts.

PATC’s primary focus was the performing arts with dance, theater, and percussion as the anchor programs.  Dance training included instruction in Primitive Rhythm in Dance, Dunham Technique, Classical Ballet, Modern Dance Forms, Rhythm/Tap, Classical Spanish Technique, Body Movement for Actors, Body Conditioning, Folk and Social Dancing, Dance History, Form and Space and Dance Notation.  In addition, PATC had a comprehensive theater program that included Acting Techniques, Techniques in Pantomine, Voice and Speech, History of Drama, Classic Dance, Third World Drama, History of Black Theatre, Playwriting, Scene Development, State Management and Direction, Visual Design, Costume Execution, and Make-up for Stage and Camera.  Lastly, students received training in vocal and instrumental music to include percussion techniques.  This comprehensive curriculum also included studies in applied skills for Radio, Television and Film as well as creative writing.  There was a strong humanities component that included Music Appreciation, Conversational Language (French, Creole, Spanish, Russian, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban) and Ethnomusicology.

The Dunham Technique Seminar is an outgrowth of the PATC.  Through its annual conference gathering, the Dunham Technique Seminar perpetuates a tradition of being a unifying force for dance and humanities professionals to share and network with each other, meet and interact with legends of dance, and highly-acclaimed professional dancers who provide counsel, guidance and direction to the future education and development of performing artists.


Katherine Dunham and student at Southern Illinois University, c. 1960s

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