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31 Jan 2014 12:30 UTCFri 31 Jan 2014 - 12:30 pm UTC
Hi Again Leli
Some time ago I found a YouTube clip of Josephine Baker:
As you will see, this is dated 1925 and she is dancing The Charleston to music provided by Isham Jones and his Orchestra.
The curious thing is that Josephine was based in France whilst Isham was in Chicago.
No problem given that records have always travelled widely.
However, what do you suppose was the history of this piece?
And, knowing of your ability to amaze me with your research ...
Please amaze me yet again and preferably before Myoarin gets a chance to stick his oar in. (You know what he's like.)
All the best
2 Feb 2014 12:10 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 12:10 pm UTC
Great to hear fron you, Probo, and apologies for going AWOL for a couple of days. Another of your interesting questions! I'll take a look later today and see if I can get anywhere.
2 Feb 2014 18:47 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 6:47 pm UTC
Well, I've had an interesting time digging. Just how, when and where music and film met is still a mystery. And Myo has serious doubts about dubbing...
It's most likely this performance is from a 1926 Folies Bergère revue called "La Folie du Jour", which opened in April. A silent film version was released in early 1927.
Baker's famous "banana skirt" dance is from this show too. The Charleston was nearer the end and was also a sensational show-stopper at the time.
I've seen a few descriptions which help explain what's happening at the beginning of the clip.
"...From the flies overhead, an egg-shaped mass of flowers descended, opening its petals as it approached the stage and revealing therein Josephine, in a silk fringe skirt, prostrate on a mirror. Bursting forth from the egg-flower into a version of the Charleston unknown to the stage, a flurry of gleaming flesh and fringe, multiplied by the mirror's reflections..."
(Josephine Baker and Paul Colin: African American Dance Seen through Parisian Eyes
Karen C. C. Dalton and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Vol. 24, No. 4 (Summer, 1998), pp. 903-934
The University of Chicago Press
Here's a picture showing the mirror more clearly, with the same backdrop, anklets etc.:
From this blog confirming it's from "Folie du Jour":
"...La Folie du Jour was filmed, almost in its entirety, albeit silently. The director of the film was Mario Nalpas and the fragments of it that survive show Josephine performing her Fatou [banana skirt] routine and, against the same scenery (no doubt for reasons of economy), her Charleston from 'La Boule Des Fleurs'. [ball of flowers]
In January 1927 the film of La Folie Du Jour was released, which meant that Paul Derval would now have to mount a new show at the Folies itself."
(The Josephine Baker story
So what about the music? I don't know, but I was interested to read that around 1926 "her lively Charleston was filmed and shown in theaters all over the United States".
(Josephine Baker: Entertainer
Alan Schroeder, Heather Lehr Wagner
Infobase Publishing, 1999)
She added a bikini top to skimpy costumes when filming, apparently, though I'm afraid I've mislaid the reference.
Hope this is of interest - Leli
2 Feb 2014 19:17 UTCSun 2 Feb 2014 - 7:17 pm UTC
Many thanks, Leli.
As always, you have managed to amaze me yet again.
Please post an Answer.
All the best
3 Feb 2014 08:44 UTCMon 3 Feb 2014 - 8:44 am UTC
Glad you found my research interesting, Probo. And thanks to Myo for throwing light on the technical side. The idea of repeated film clips assembled to suit the music seems very plausible.
Apparently the band (E.E. Thompson) hired for "Folie du Jour" on stage just mimed, while the pit orchestra (Maurice Hermite) played. The Charleston music was well known and recorded by several different bands (usually just called "Charleston") so maybe it wasn't too difficult to pick out a version where you could match the tempo to the dancing? But I can't guarantee that Isham Jones didn't go to Paris for the filming. I just didn't find any indication he did.
More info, including the time JB nearly fell 40 feet onto the stage, here:
And a French description of the show with the Maurice Hermite info and the only mention I've seen of the "incredible" rolling eyes:
Thanks for sending a fun question - Leli
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