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Archive for the ‘Ernest Belcher’ Category

During my last week at the Library of Congress, we presented an exhibit of recent acquisitions to the dance collections. It was really great to show and explain the materials to a wider audience. I have included a few photos of it below:

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All images reproduced by Nicole Topich at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Division.

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Along with the many amazing photographs from Ernest Belcher, there were also his ballet shoes and several film reels, including one from 1910! Thankfully the reels had been transferred to safety film from nitrate:

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All images reproduced by Nicole Topich from the Marge Champion Collection at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Division.

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There was an addition of Ernest Belcher photographs to the collection this week, including images of Belcher dancing and posing with his dance partner Dorothy Edwards:

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All images reproduced by Nicole Topich from the Marge Champion Collection at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Division.

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Belcher was presented with the megaphone by Harry Brand when he was named the Dance Director of Movieland by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in 1925. Some of the signatures of the many Hollywood actors and actresses on the megaphone include Sam Warner, John Barrymore, Harry Myers, Lina Basquette, Gloria Swanson, Derelys Perdue, Ramon Novarro, Dolores Costello, Sally Rand, Marion Davies, and Colleen Moore. Pola Negri is signing the megaphone in the bottom picture.

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All images reproduced by Nicole Topich from the Marge Champion Collection at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Division.

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Normally I would not post an entire folder of photographs to a blog, but I thought these photographs were so interesting they should be seen by a wider audience.  Some contextual information for these photographs: Ernest Belcher taught many students at his dance school, which first opened in 1916 in Los Angeles; he became involved with Hollywood films in 1918;  he was the first choreographer to present dance at the Hollywood Bowl; according to newspaper articles, he was involved with 200 films before 1931 and created 70 percent of all dance sequences in movies before the early 1930s, including films such as the Phantom of the Opera and the Jazz Singer.

All information presented is from: Prevots, Naima.  “Ernest Belcher and American Dance.” Dance Chronicle v.10,  no.2 (1987): pg. 170-222.

I am only including a bit of information about Ernest Belcher, but there is some available and much more that needs to be researched. I have been overwhelmed by how amazing this collection is and am so grateful to be working to be working with these materials.

After researching every name mentioned on the photographs pictured below, the individuals who I could find information about were:

Lina Basquette (Ernest Belcher’s step-daughter),

Colleen Moore,

Derelys Perdue,

Ramon Novarro,

Georgia Graves,

Joyce Coles,

Shirley Temple,

Cecil B. Demille (pictured with Marge),

Vivian Fay,

Alexander Volinin and Lydia Kyasht

Harvey Karels,

Crane Twins,

Marjorie Tallchief and Elizabeth Maria Tallchief,

Patsy Ruth Miller,

Victor Moore’s wife Shirley,

Mae Ross being trained for the MGM “Art of Skating” film,

Margaret Westberg,

“Blair and Dean” dance team,

Alice Maison,

Marie Prevost,

Michael Brigarite ,

Lucile Iverson,

Lois Moran,

May McAvoy,

Tula Belle and her sister Ebba Mona,

John Barrymore.

There is also a piece of film reel from the Phantom of the Opera, an Ernest Belcher “vaudeville” photograph circa 1910 (the first photograph), photographs of the ‘Carnival of Venice’ Ballet, and many photographs of scenes from films, including: General Crack, The Jazz Singer, A Small Town Idol, Twinkletoes, a film that includes Ebba Mona and her sister Tula Belle, and possibly the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

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All photographs reproduced by Nicole Topich from the Marge Champion Collection at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Division.

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The first three days of working on the Marge Champion collection have been great! There are so many amazing items and I had no idea where to start my blog. I chose these pictures of Ernest Belcher’s megaphone because it was the first box that I opened and I was very surprised to find this item. Ernest Belcher was Marge’s father and also an important figure in dance history. There will definitely be several more posts on his interesting materials in the collection.
Do you spot names that you recognize? The library staff really enjoyed looking at the signatures.

UPDATE:

A photograph of the megaphone being signed by Pola Negri is featured in: Prevots, Naima.  “Ernest Belcher and American Dance.” Dance Chronicle v.10,  no.2 (1987): pg. 170-222.

If you have access to JSTOR, the direct link to the picture is: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1567642?seq=16

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All photographs reproduced by Nicole Topich from the Marge Champion collection at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Division.

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