Thousands came to see Kate dance her new art form.
Kate Vaughan and Miss. Alice Lethbridge
were said to be one of the best skirt dancers of all time. Dancers
prior to Kate, wore the conventional Italian wardrobe to dance
this "costume" hampered many dancers abilities, the
new form or skirt dance relieved this burden. The skirt was the
main theme in the dance, but proper arm styling was almost as
important. The dance consists of kicking, hopping, gliding, posing
and turning, similar to the ballet of the times.
Much of the grace, too, of skirt-dancing
depended upon the body-postures, and on the perfect balance that
is so necessary to a good dancer. In fact, many of the most difficult
movements were only possible to those who possessed this gift
of balancing to a marked degree, while even the ordinary movements
were much beautified and added to in grace by those with an obvious
facility of balance. It was to this additional power that much
of the skill and success of Miss Alice Lethbridge is due, and
many of the movements which made her name famous, such as the
wonderful revolving movement of which she was said to be the sole
mistress, are in a great measure dependent on it.
This revolving movement was one which Lethbridge first introduced
in a dance when playing the part of Pepita in "Little Christopher
Columbus" at the Lyric Theater.
She has given to it no special name, merely calling it the "waltz
movement," as it is in this form of dance that she has
been in the habit of introducing it; but it is an open secret
that many have tried to imitate her in it without success. The
movement itself consists of, while still dancing the ordinary
waltz, suddenly bending the body backwards, till it is almost
at a right angle, and in this position slowly rotating the body
around its own axis, making all the correct steps of the dance,
and moving round in a big circle the whole time. The swaying of
the body in slow time to the rapid movements of the feet, and
the effect of the waving skirts, lend an air of grace to the dance
such as has seldom been equaled. One of the critics at the time
wrote: "Lethbridge looked like a big white poppy in that
ceaseless revolving movement round such a large circle, and the
amateur wondered how the dancer could possibly preserve her balance."
Lethbridge's dancing in "Little Christopher Columbus"
was one of the sensations of the theatrical year, and from that
time her name was assured, though even earlier, when little more
than a child, her dancing in "Mynheer Jan" at the Comedy
Theatre had caused her to be declared by many critics the
finest dancer on the stage, since Kate
Vaughn had some years before retired from the field of Burlesque.
All her dancing shows great knowledge of both the practical and
theoretical sides of the art, and she is without doubt the most
graceful exponent of dancing we now have.
The dance consists of the start
which was called the "Come On,"
the dance continues with Forward, Side and Backwards movements.
There are Paddle Steps, Leaps, Hops, Kicks, Coupes,
Bouree's, Jete's etc. Music was usually in 4/4 time. This
dance could and is also used as a children's play dance, albeit,
less the erotic movements of course.
There were different variations of the Skirt Dance
such as the Butterfly Skirt dance
(pictured), Society Skirt Dance,
20th. Century Skirt dance as well
as dance that were similar like the La
Manola and Cloak dance.
The La Manola was a Spanish skirt dance to a SLOW Spanish 3/4
tempo. It was created by F.C. Notts for his daughter for his exhibition
given at the Gate City Guards' Armory, Atlanta, GA., May 18, 1891.
The music used was "Landers' Manola Waltz." The costume
for the La Manola dance was Shoes, hose, trunks, one silk under
waist, all same color, dress skirt, silk, for girl 14 years old
or over, 60 feet around the bottom, Empire waist, widths cut in
umbrella-shaped pieces, puts the goods at the bottom, where it
is wanted, and only requires half the material to get the 60 feet
at bottom that it would in any other kind of skirt. The under
skirt should be not less than 30 feet. Notts says 'Wait in wings
for introduction, 8 bars' before going on.