Katherine Mary Dunham (22 June 1909 – 21 May 2006) was an African-American dancer, choreographer, songwriter, author, educator and activist who was trained as an anthropologist.

Dunham was born in Joliet, Illinois of mixed racial heritage. Her father, who owned a dry-cleaning business, was African-American, and her mother, a schoolteacher, was from Canada, whose parents were white and Native American. She became fascinated with dance from a young age, and even before finishing high school she started a private dance school for young black children. At the age of 15, she organized the Blue Moon Cafe, a fund-raising cabaret for Brown's Methodist Church in Joliet, where she gave her first public performances.

She has been called the Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance, and had one of the most successful dance careers in American and European theatre of the 20th century. During her heyday in the 1940s, 50s and 60s she was renowned throughout Europe and Latin America as La Grande Katherine, and the Washington Post called her "Dance's Katherine the Great." For more than 30 years she maintained the Katherine Dance Company, the only permanent, self-subsidized dance troupe in America, and over her long career she choreographied more than 90 individual dances.

Dunham was an innovator in African-American modern dance as well as a leader in the field of Dance Anthropology, or Ethnochoreology.