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Friday, 18 July 2014

Dancing Girls




 No dancing photos to be found in my mother's old albums, perhaps because if she was dancing she couldn't take photographs at the same time, but I do remember her demonstrating both the Scottish Sword Dance and  Cossack squat dancing on various occasions. My sister learnt ballet and Scottish dancing, but I was considered to be too uncoordinated for ballet and instead was made to endure elocution lessons, now better known as speech and drama. I dreaded going each week, especially as I had to make my own way across town by bus and then take a circuitous route on foot to avoid any known fierce dogs that might be lying in wait for me between the bus stop and the teacher's home. Canberra doesn't allow front fences and as an eleven or twelve year old I was just petrified of all the local dogs that prowled the streets! The teacher herself even had a dog, but thankfully he was reasonably docile.  No photos whatsoever of me performing, although I did have to sit speech exams over the years and perform at eisteddfod competitions, for which I even won a couple of little trophies that I still have in the cupboard, but I did manage to find this photo of my teacher Yetty Landau and her dog on Ancestry, looking just as I remember her, with her beloved dog Sandy, who usually had to be moved off a chair if I wanted to sit down during a lesson. According to a site called the Australian Womens Register, Yetty Landau (1895-1971) was  "an actor and comedian who worked in Melbourne and with travelling companies. She was a popular broadcaster in Melbourne and Canberra and with her actor husband set up schools which taught drama, elocution and public speaking. After her husband's death Yetty continued teaching verse speaking, training choirs and successfully preparing students for the examinations of Trinity College, London".


Mrs Yetty Landau, aka Yetty Pearson, with her dog Sandy

  There is a sweet photo of  my sister Louisa's dance class, but  it was taken by a photographer from a local paper and has a copyright stamp on the back saying it can't be used without written permission, so unfortunately I can't show it here, even though it is now fifty years old. Here's one of her taken at home around the same time however, and you'll just have to imagine a class of six year olds like her in a studio setting.


Our elder daughter Claire took dance classes as a teenager, preferring jazz ballet to classical. These snippets were taken at one of her dance school concerts in about 1995. I think I must have clipped them this way to remove audience members' heads.



 I confess I didn't realise the prompt photograph was of men dressed as women, until I read Little Nell's blog. I took these three somewhat less than clear black and white shots at another of those dance school concerts at a time when I was doing a photography course and developing my own prints in the darkroom. No boys in the senior ranks at the dance school, so they are all girls here. Lots of costume changes involved between the different acts, and the concerts were always well choreographed, imaginative and fun to watch.



Final curtain call.
Daughter Claire is fifth from left in the front row, with the long curls, and is on the right of the other two photos.

A posed publicity shot taken by the dance teacher's husband. Claire is in the polka dot dress.

 Now dance on over to Sepia Saturday #237 for more blogs on the subject of dancing and dressing up.

17 comments:

  1. Dance always seems to bring out the cameras for a photo shootl I really liked the last photo --so joyuful.

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  2. I hope your lessons came in handy and there are some cute photos of you speaking. Sorry about those dogs. Our present neighborhood has too many dogs running lose and I feel your fear.

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    1. No photos of me performing, sorry to say, but I did google and found one of my teacher, which I've now added into my blog.

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  3. The photos sans audience are great and the girls are amusing dressed as men. Your mother must have been a decent athlete to be able to do one of
    those squat dances. My thighs hurt just thinking about it!

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  4. Ah, those were the days. Doing one's own developing and printing. I find those old B&Ws so much more interesting than the present day coloured. Some loveky dancing shots of your family.

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    1. Yes, I converted a windowless ensuite bathroom that we didn't use much into a home darkroom and whiled away many hours hidden away in there, with a notice on the door that it was not to be opened for any reason. 'If needed, just shout'! Unfortunately those developing chemicals didn't do the carpet a lot of good, and the smell remained long after I stopped printing and got rid of the developer.

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  5. Oh that photo is perfect! When I was 5 or 6 I always wanted a dog like that.

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  6. You did find many dance related photos.

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  7. The photo of your sister is great. I didn't realise that about Canberra front gardens - silly me with a father who was a town planner and all, you think I would remember that !

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  8. Dogs aren't supposed to be allowed out without fences or leashes, but there is one neighbor that does it all the time. I got bitten by one of their dogs once even though the owner was in the yard with the dog, and I was walking down the other side of the street. Now I walk along a different route.

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  9. I love that you cut out the audience heads!
    Nowadays, it would be unthinkable to not have pictures of your child doing everything, but I have none of any of my recitals, either.

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  10. This was a nice tribute for your teacher. She sounds like someone who would have enjoyed blogging too.I don't believe anyone here in the US still teaches elocution, though it deserves to be.

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  11. I also had to take speech class, probably to get rid of my Texas twang. I also had sinus problems all my life, so this was to get away from that, so I learned how to use my diaphragm to breath!

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  12. I can’t take the credit as it was Wendy who first alerted us on the Facebook page. It certainly took some of us off in a different direction! I am expecting you to speak beautifully after those early elocution lessons!

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  13. I love the photo of your sister, who looks very proud.

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  14. Dance or Elocution? You mean there was no third option? I can't imagine children in an elocution class today.

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    1. Apparently not, as far as my mother was concerned. It wasn't that I spoke badly or had any speech problems, she probably just thought it was a good alternative. Drama classes are quite popular these days, but when I did elocution it was just one-to-one, teacher and pupil - I very rarely saw any other students coming or going, except for when I had to practice a duologue piece with another girl in preparation for an eisteddfod, and then when I went along to one it was a surprise to see that there were other children studying the same strange thing, ie. elocution.

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