I want you to meet OUR GIRLS!

For your chorus girl watching enjoyment, I'd like to present to you, the "Russell Markert Girls" from the film King of Jazz (1930).

This is a great classic clip from the film King of Jazz, and if you've never watched this film, I would strongly suggest renting it from Netflix and checking it out! There is some wacky and amazing stuff in there - very much a vaudeville/variety act kind of film, but with some amazing dance and music intermixed!

And here begins the chain reaction of dance troupe inspiration that I feel historically is important to share:

-->Tiller Girls
---> Russell Markert Girls (shown here)
----> Missouri Rockets
-----> Radio City Rockettes

The girls you will see here in this clip were known as the Russell Markert Girls (shown to the left), who were directly inspired by the Tiller Girls (click on the link above to see an example of the Tiller Girls dancing).

The Tiller Girls (shown in the image below), a British chorus troupe, so inspired Mr. Russell Markert (he was also strongly inspired by the Ziegfeld Follies, which is evident from the chorus girl costuming), that he decided he must recreate a troupe similar to this in America. Russell Markert, who would later become the famous Radio City Rockettes in 1932, quoted; (from Wikipedia)

"I had seen the John Tiller girls in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1922," he reminisced, "If I ever got a chance to get a group of American girls who would be taller and have longer legs and could do really complicated tap routines and eye-high kicks, they'd knock your socks off!"

Many a Tiller girl would be a little offended at this remark as many of the Tiller Ballet and Tap Routines have never been replicated with such precision. However the Rockettes Kick routines today are precision dance at its very best, original and real entertainment.

The Rockettes first kicked to life in 1925 as the "Missouri Rockets" and made their show business debut in St. Louis, the realization of a long-time dream of their creator, Russell Markert.

Russell Markert added his own style to the precision dance routines; this found its way back to the Tiller girls in the United Kingdom. Girls that had visited the USA during the late 1930’s and 40’s danced for the Troops and liked the American style of dancing and the costumes with head dresses they saw. American films also showed showgirls and had a big impact on the British audience. From the late 1940’s through the 1970s the Tiller girls adopted a lot of the American Showgirl styles that could trace their roots back to the “Les Folies-Bergère” in the late 1890s.


A little bit about Paul Whiteman & the movie from Wikipedia:

In 1930 "Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra" starred in the first feature-length movie musical filmed entirely in Technicolor, King of Jazz. The film was technically ahead of its time, with many dazzling camera effects complementing the Whiteman music. Whiteman appeared as himself, and good-naturedly kidded his weight and his dancing skills. A highlight was a concert rendition of Rhapsody in Blue. Unfortunately, by the time King of Jazz was released to theaters, audiences had seen too many "all-singing, all-dancing" musicals, and much of the moviegoing public stayed away. (It also didn't help that the film was shot as a revue with no story and not particularly imaginative camerawork.) The expensive film didn't show a profit until 1933, when it was successfully reissued to cash in on the popularity of 42nd Street and its elaborate production numbers.

*HOT TRIVIA*
King of Jazz marked the first film appearance of the popular crooner, Bing Crosby, who, at the time, was a member of The Rhythm Boys, a vocal trio with the Whiteman Orchestra.

I must admit that part of the reason why I love this clip is because not only is it semi-creepy in a "Stepford-Wives" kind of way, but also very honest about the body shape of dancers back then. I mean, check out the girl on the far right end when she is extending her high kicks. She doesn't have what we think of today as "Rockettes legs"... these women have thighs that are large, natural & beautiful! It's so refreshing to watch these clips and see a more natural form performing these routines instead of anorexic dancers like we so often see nowadays on tv!

And now, for your viewing pleasure, I'd like to present "King of Jazz"(1930)

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