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),
Cecil B. Demille (pictured with Marge),
Alexander Volinin and Lydia Kyasht
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,
“Blair and Dean” dance team,
Michael Brigarite ,
Tula Belle and her sister Ebba Mona,
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.
All photographs reproduced by Nicole Topich from the Marge Champion Collection at the Library of Congress Performing Arts Division.
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