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Boas, Franziska

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Franziska Marie Boas (1902-1988), pioneering choreographer, dancer, percussionist, teacher, ethnologist, and therapist, was born in New York City, the youngest of six children of noted anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942) and Marie Krackowizer. Like her father who was known for his commitment to social activism and his battle to rid the scientific community of racially based theories of intelligence, Franziska Boas was also a committed activist for racial equality and social justice. She worked to teach young people about the value of dance as a means of communication; she pioneered dance as therapy; she encouraged students to expand their own creativity through improvisation; she combined the study of dance with ethnology; and, most importantly, she broke down the racial barriers that stood in the way of almost all African-Americans wishing to pursue careers in dance.