Beautiful Moira Shearer Dancing in The Red Shoes (1948)

The Red Shoes is a 1948 British film about a ballet dancer, written, directed and produced by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, known collectively as The Archers.

The film employs the story within a story device, being about a young ballerina who joins an established ballet company and becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called The Red Shoes, itself based on the fairy tale “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Andersen.

The film stars Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook and Marius Goring and features Robert Helpmann, Léonide Massineand Ludmilla Tchérina, renowned dancers from the ballet world, as well as Esmond Knight and Albert Bassermann.

It has original music by Brian Easdale and cinematography by Jack Cardiff. Filmmakers such as Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese have named it one of their all-time favourite films.

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Robert Helpmann and Moira Shearer in The red shoes, 1948 via

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Moira Shearer and Leonide Massine in The red shoes, 1948 via
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Moira Shearer and Leonide Massine in The red shoes, 1948 via

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Moira Shearer in The red shoes, 1948 via
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Moira Shearer in The red shoes, 1948 via

 

 

Early Film Dancer Annabelle Moore (1878-1961)

Annabelle Moore (1878 – 1961) was an American dancer and actress who was quite popular in her youth. She appeared in at least nine films beween 1894 and 1897. The films were dance films and included “A Mermaid Dance”, “Butterfly Dance” and “Serpentine Dance”.

The sale of her films was further boosted in December 1896 when it was revealed that she had been approached to appear naked at a private dinner party at Sherry’s Restaurant – It is even said she introduced eroticism in film.

In 1907 Annabelle starred as the Gibson Bathing Girl in the first of  the Ziegfeld Follies.

In 1910 she married Edward James Buchan. He died in 1958 and Annabelle died penniless in Chicago in 1961. In her obituary in the New York Times it was said Annabelle:

“was the symbol of beauty in her day. She was billed as ‘the original Gibson Girl’ because of her striking resemblance to the Charles Dana Gibson portrait.”

Annabelle had a similar appearance to the Gibson Girl.  But as far as Gibson modeling his idealization of the perfect woman on Annabelle, there is little evidence that he did (source).

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Annabelle Moore, 1900s

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Annabelle Moore, 1908

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Annabelle Butterfly Dance (1894)

Martha Graham – The ‘Picasso of Dance’

Martha Graham (1894 – 1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer whose influence on dance has been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts, Stravinsky had on music, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture.

Rejecting classical European ballet, the dancer searched in primitive societies the inspiration for her spiritual-like naturalistic moves. With her shows, she illustrates strong emotions and her social battles, such as Chronicle, in 1936 that depicted depression and isolation. 

Graham was the first dancer ever to perform at the White House, travel abroad as a cultural ambassador, and receive the highest civilian award of the US: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In her lifetime she received honors ranging from the Key to the City of Paris to Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown. She said, in the 1994 documentary The Dancer Revealed:

“I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.”

Her style, the Graham technique, fundamentally reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide.

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Edward Steichen, Portrait of Marthe Graham, 1931

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Edward Steichen, Portrait of Martha Graham, New York, 1931

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Barbara Morgan, Portrait of Martha Graham in “Lamentation”, 1935

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Barbara Morgan, Portrait of Martha Graham in “Lamentation”, 1935

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Barbara Morgan, Portrait of Martha Graham “Frontier”, 1935

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Portrait of Martha Graham, 1930’s

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Vintage Photos of Russian Prima Ballerina Alexandra Danilova

Aleksandra Dionisyevna Danilova (1903 – 1997) was a Russian-born prima ballerina, who became an American citizen. In 1989, she was recognized for lifetime achievements in ballet as a Kennedy Center Honoree.

Born in Peterhof, Russia on November 20, 1903, she trained at the Russian Imperial Ballet School in Leningrad (formerly and currently St. Petersburg). She was one of the few Russian-trained ballerinas to tour outside Russia. Her first professional post was as a member of St. Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet.

In 1924, she and George Balanchine left Russia. They were soon picked up by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; Danilova as a dancer, Balanchine as a choreographer. Danilova toured for years with the Ballets Russes under Sergei Diaghilev, then with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo after Diaghilev’s death.[1] With the latter company, Danilova andFrederic Franklin created one of the legendary ballet partnerships of the twentieth century. Danilova became known for her glamour and beautiful legs, as well as her work ethic and professionalism.

Danilova made her Broadway debut in 1944’s Song of Norway; her last ballet performance was in 1957.

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Alexandra Danilova photographed by George Platt Lynes, c. 1930s

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 Alexandra Danilova as a star of Colonel de Basil’s Ballet Russe  (1936)  by Maurice Seymour.

Courtesy of Ronald Seymour/Maurice Seymour Archive.

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Alexandra Danilova in Ballet Russe’s Nutcracker

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F. Franklin and Alexandra Danilova (1948) by Irving Penn.

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The Legs of Danilova, New York (1950) by Erwin Blumenfeld

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Alexandra Danilova dances in Gaite Parisienne

Alla Nazimova in “Salomé” (1923) – Silent Avant-garde Picture Film

Salomé (1923), was directed by Charles Bryant and starred russian silent-movie queen Alla Nazimova – the film is an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play of the same name.

The play itself is a loose retelling of the biblical story of King Herod and his execution of John the Baptist (here, as in Wilde’s play, called Jokaanan) at the request of his stepdaughter, Salomé, whom he lusts after.

Salomé is often called one of the first art films to be made in the U.S.  The highly stylized costumes, exaggerated acting (even for the period), minimal sets, and absence of all but the most necessary props make for a screen image much more focused on atmosphere and on conveying a sense of the characters’ individual heightened desires than on conventional plot development.

Alla Nazimova in Salomé 1923, directed by Charles Bryant

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Alla Nazimova in Salomé 1923, directed by Charles Bryant

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923

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Alla Nazimova, in “Salomé” directed by Charles Bryant, 1923

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Salomé Dances

Portraits of the Legendary Ballerina Marie Taglioni (1804-1884) –

Marie Taglioni (1804 – 1884) was an Italian/Swedish ballet dancer of the Romantic ballet era, a central figure in the history of European dance. Her fragile, delicate dancing typified the early 19th-century Romantic style. She became one of the first women to dance on the extreme tips, or points, of the toes; she created a new style marked by floating leaps, such balanced poses as the arabesque, and a delicate, restrained use of the points.

Trained chiefly by her father, Filippo Taglioni, she made her debut in Vienna in 1822. In her father’s ballet La Sylphide, introduced at the Paris Opéra, March 12, 1832.

In the performance of La Sylphide Taglioni was also known for shortening her skirt, which was considered highly scandalous at the time. The diaphanous dress she wore, with its fitted bodice and airy, bell-like skirt, was the prototype of the tutu. She shortened all of her skirts to show off her excellent pointe work, which the long skirts hid. Her father was approving of the shortening of the skirt because he also wanted everyone to see how good his daughter was en pointe.

In London Taglioni commanded £100 a performance and she filled the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre to capacity when she played in La Sylphide. The Russians loved her so much that they named cakes and caramels after her. A group of her fans even ate a pair of her ballet shoes after her last performance in 1842. These were cooked, garnished, and served with a special sauce so one hopes that they tasted good! – See more at: http://www.lifeinitaly.com/heroes-villains/marie-taglioni.asp#sthash.zwYUhCJE.dpuf

Not only did she have Paris at her feet but audiences in London, Milan, Vienna, Berlin, and St. Petersburg hailed her as one of the greatest dancers ballet had ever produced.

In London Taglioni commanded £100 a performance and she filled the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre to capacity when she played in La Sylphide. The Russians loved her so much that they named cakes and caramels after her. A group of her fans even ate a pair of her ballet shoes after her last performance in 1842. These were cooked, garnished, and served with a special sauce (Source).

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Portrait of ballerina Marie Taglioni

(probably between 1827 and 1837)

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Maria Taglioni in “La Sylphide”

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Marie Taglioni, by Richard James Lane, printed by Graf & Soret, published by Rudolph Ackermann Jr, circa 1825-1850 - NPG D22015 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Maria Taglioni by Richard James Lane, circa 1825-1850

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

Irene Castle – Ballroom Dancer & Fashion Icon

Castle sitting in profile and wearing a black short-sleeved satin dress by Lucile, ca. 1921 by Baron de Meyer

Irene Castle (1893 – 1969) was born Irene Foote in New Rochelle, New York. The daughter of a prominent physician, she studied dancing and performed in several amateur theatricals before meeting Vernon Castle at the New Rochelle Rowing Club in 1910. With his help, she was hired for her first professional job, a small dancing part in “The Summer Widowers”. The next year, over her father’s objections, the two were married. The English-born Vernon had already established himself as a dancer in comedic roles. His specialty was playing a gentleman drunk, who elegantly fell about the stage while trying to hide his condition.

In 1914 the couple reached the peak of their popularity in Irving Berlin’s first Broadway show, Watch Your Step, in which they refined and popularized the Foxtrot. They also helped to popularize ragtime jazz rhythms and African-American music for dance.

As the couple’s celebrity increased in the mid-1910s, Irene Castle became a major fashion trendsetter, initiating the vogue for shorter skirts. She is also credited with introducing American women to the bob – the short hairstyle favored by flappers in the 1920s. Her elegant, yet simple, flowing gowns worn in performance were often featured in fashion magazines. These were often supplied by the couturier “Lucile”, but Irene also designed some of her clothes herself. The whisper-thin, elegant Castles were trendsetters in other ways: they traveled with a black orchestra, had an openly lesbian manager, and were animal-rights advocates decades before it became a public issue.

In 1918, after serving with distinction as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I, Vernon died in a plane crash. Irene continued to perform and made silent films over the next decade. She remarried, had children and became an animal-rights activist.

   

Irene Castle introduced her “Castle bob” to an American audience in 1915.

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Irene Castle wearing French designer Madeleine Vionnet 1922

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Irene Castle wearing French designer Madeleine Vionnet 1922

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Irene Castle / photograph by Moffett, Chicago (1915)

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Irene Castle in dance costume / photographs by Ira L. Hill’s Studio

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Irene Castle Winter Costume before 1917

Irene Castle Ball Gown before 1917

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 Irene Castle New York World’s Fair (1939-1940) via digitalgallery.nypl.org

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New York World’s Fair (1939-1940) via digitalgallery.nypl.org

The Castle Walk

 The original Castle Walk by Vernon and Irene Castle in 1915.

The Europe Society Orchestra wrote the song “The Castle Walk” specifically for the Castles and this dance,