La Revue nègre
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
La Revue nègre was a cabaret show that lay at the origins of bringing jazz from American to Europe. In the 1920s, the Charleston was sweeping the world and with it came a cabaret show to Paris. On October 2, 1925 Josephine Baker's La Revue nègre opened at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.
She became an instant success for her erotic dancing and for appearing practically nude on stage. After a successful tour of Europe, she reneged on her contract and returned to France to star at the Folies Bergère, setting the standard for her future acts. She performed the Danse sauvage, wearing a costume consisting of a skirt made of a string of artificial bananas. Josephine Baker's success coincided (1925) with the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs, which for one gave the name "Art Deco" and were also a renewal of interest in ethnic forms of art, including African. Therefore Josephine Baker also represented one aspect of this fashion.
In later shows in Paris she was often accompanied on stage by her pet leopard Chiquita, who was adorned with a diamond collar. The leopard frequently escaped into the orchestra pit, where it terrorized the musicians, adding another element of excitement to the show.