Remember the Time Beyoncé Tributed Josephine Baker on National Television?

by Kimberly Foster @KimberlyNFoster

Beyoncé has the whole world talking about the unapologetic blackness in her new video, Formation, but the pop superstar isn't new to celebrating Black brilliance.

She's often given nods to the Black women performers who've inspired her, most notably Tina Turner. And back in 2006, Beyoncé celebrated Jospehine Baker's 100th birthday with a banana dance-inspired performance of her hit song, "Deja Vu" on the televised Fashion Rocks special.

B sported a bedazzled bustier and skirt made of embellished faux bananas, a costume very similar to the one worn by Baker as she performed the banana dance across Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Baker rose to prominence performing cabaret acts in La Revue Nègre in Paris in 1925. By 1926, the banana dance became here signature.

Beyoncé's seductive spectacle captured the essence of Baker's allure. She was powerful while exhibiting complete control over her body during the effervescent choreography.

Beyoncé also paid homage in song's video with a dance break that contained choreography reminiscent of the icon's.

Josephine in the Folies Bergere in 1926. From The Josephine Baker Story by Ean Wood

She told ABC News in 2006, "I wanted to be more like Josephine Baker, because she didn't, she seemed like she just was possessed and it seemed like she just danced from her, her heart, and everything was so free."

Beyoncé's affinity for Baker comes as no surprise. Baker's control of her art and her image was unprecedented for her time. Baker, a Black woman beloved by white audiences, built a name by working within the status quo to transgress social boundaries. In her later life she became a civil rights activist.

The origins of the skirt are unknown. Baker gave varied stories about it's creation throughout her life, but she will forever be an icon because of her daring.

Josephine Baker in Banana Skirt. Paul Colin (French, 1892-1985)

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Photos: WireImage/Kevin Mazur


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