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FOOTLIGHT NOTES
no. 568

updated
Saturday, 2 August 2008

FOOTLIGHT NOTES
images of theatre and other popular entertainment
1850s-1920s

Quadrille Fin de Siecle
'Quadrille Fin de Siecle,'
a cabinet photograph of Mlles. Serpolette, Folette, Risette and Clair de Lune,
the Parisian can can dancers who made their sensational American debut at
Koster & Bial's, New York, in November 1892

(photo: Sarony, New York, 1892)

'KOSTER & BIAL'S.
'At Koster & Bial's last night the second half of the programme was made up of imported Parisian ''specialties,'' which were loudly applauded by the motley crowd. A novelty announced with a ''quadrille fin de siècle'' by four dancers from the neighbourhood of the Batignolles.
'They were supposed to hail from the Moulin Rouge, the home of high kicking and acrobatic performances, but from their comparatively slight knowledge of the figures of the dance, it is probably that, if they did come from Paris at all, it was from one of the smaller cafés. They have the South Fifth Avenue manner. Mlles. Serpolette, Folette, Risette, and Claire de Lune are four very large and rather vulgar-looking women of mature years. They do not dance ven as well as the four women in The Black Crook, nor do they attempt the same gymnastics, but the ''quadrille'' is identical with that dances at the Fourteenth Street house.
'Their performance seemed to please the crowd at Koster & Bial's. M. and Mme. Berat, Marie Vanoni, with ''Georgie'' and ''La Cantinière'', the grotesque Eduardos, and the Americans, Wood and Shepard, were all more interesting to decent folk. The Rendezvous and Barbe Bleu (condensed) operettas were well given.'
(The New York Times, New York, Wednesday, 22 November 1892, p. 5)

'New York has a new attraction at one of her music halls. The four French dancers, Mlles. Serpolette, Clair de Lune, Folette and Risette, who made their first appearance in this country last week on Koster & Bial's concert hall stage gave what may be safely called the most sensational terpsichorean exhibition that has ever been witnesses on the American stage. Their exhibition was anything but artistic, or even fetching. It consisted in a more than liberal display of lingerie, some very high kicking, squatting on the floor with legs stretched out at right angles, making somersaults and other feats of similar nature.'
(Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Monday, 28 November 1892, p. 4a)

'Dancing before the footlights in New York city just now are a number of young women from Paris' Maulin Range [sic] and Jardin de Paris, who are creating a sensation, the like of which has not been experienced in many a day, says a writer in the World of that city. According to the writer a new dance has been introduced by the French called le grand ecart. The English name for it is not very dignified. Perhaps the feat is less so, but we must accept it as an artistic excellence. Imagine the dignity of a young woman sinking down to the floor her limbs at right angles to the body. The undignified phase is lost in the rapturous applause which comes from all parts of the house, even from the box tiers of the Four Hundred. . . .'
(Hamilton Daily Democrat, Hamilton, Ohio, 17 December 1892, p. 3d)

'COLUMBIA THEATER [Brooklyn].
'Babes in the Wood may be seen for another week at this spacious and handsome theater, before making way for The Isle of Champagne. It is a showy, spectacular piece, with a dash of burlesque, a dash of vaudeville, a bit of pantomime, some singing, incessant music, brilliant effects of costume, scenery and lights, and more than a dash of dancing. The performance of the four French dancers, who wrap their legs around their necks and perform the bone racking feat called ''the split,'' makes a genuine sensation. Arthur Dunn and Timothy Cronin in the comic parts are really funny.'
(The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, Sunday, 12 February 1893, p. 5a)

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