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Salome, showgirls and fashion on film

Posted on November 29, 2010


salomeThere’s a definite dance focus to the third Fashion in Film Festival, at venues across London from December 1–12. See our gallery for glimpses of showgirls, music hall numbers and dances of the seven veils.

At The Horse Hospital, there’s a screening of the 1941 extravaganza The Ziegfeld Girl, with choreography by Busby Berkeley. At Tate Modern, two programmes of early films include Orientalist veil dances and a solo by Yvonne Rainer, created in response to Alla Nazimova’s silent Salome

At the Barbican, programmes of silent film show the influence of Loïe Fuller, with dancers manipulating wings of gauzy fabric. French revue dancer Edmonde Guy stars in the 1928 film La Princess Mandane. Lili Damita – who had danced in Paris under the pseudonym Lily Deslys) stars as a dancer in two silent films directed by her then husband Michael Curtiz, with music hall settings and some spectacular dance scenes.

At BFI Southbank, the programme includes the 1927 film La Revue des Revues, whose plot is an excuse to feature music hall dances, with artists from the Folies-Bergère, Palace and Moulin Rouge – including Josephine Baker. For the full programme, see

Pictures, top row, left to right:

Affair of the follies,1927, directed by Millard Webb (c) George Eastman House

The Pearl Fisher, 1907, directed by Ferdinand Zeca 

Peacock Alley, 1922, directed by Robert Z Leom, starring Mae Murray (c) George Eastman House

Bottom, left to right:

Pretty Ladies, 1925, directed by Monta Bell (c) George Eastman House

Salome, 1923, directed by Charles Bryant, starring Alla Nazimova 

Stage Struck, 1925, directed by Allan Dwan (c) George Eastman House

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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