When Dunham returned to the United States, she combined the ethnic dances she had learned in the Caribbean with classical ballet and theatrical effects. The result was an entirely new art form, called the "Dunham technique." It has also been referred to as "Afro-Caribbean dance."
In 1940, she formed The Dunham Dance Company, an all-black dance troupe, to perform her technique. The company gave its first show in New York City and performed a revue called "Tropics and le Jazz Hot." Audiences in the United States had never seen anything like it. As Durbin wrote in the Americas article, "Everything moved— shoulders twitched, torsos arched, hips popped—and Martha Graham proclaimed Dunham 'the high priestess of the pelvic girdle.'" Graham is considered to be the founder of modern dance.