Do the wiggle waggle wow!

Here is a true gem indeed - Snake Hips (1929) featuring the FANTASTIC and infamous, Ann Pennington.

About Ann Pennington (from Wikipedia):
Ann Pennington (December 23, 1893–November 4, 1971) was an actress, dancer, and singer who starred on Broadway in the 1910s and 1920s, notably in the Ziegfeld Follies and George White's Scandals.

She became famous for what was, at the time, called a “Shake and Quiver Dancer,” and was noted for her variation of the “Black Bottom”. She was also noted as an accomplished tap dancer. Ray Henderson wrote the extant version of "Black Bottom" for Ann - she had already been performing the popular version of the dance for some time. Some years prior to this, she had also topped the bill on Broadway in her performance of the musically similar "Charleston". Pennington also achieved fame as a star of both silent and sound motion pictures.

She began her career on Broadway as a member of the chorus in The Red Widow (1911) starring Raymond Hitchcock. Her debut in the Ziegfeld Follies was in 1913, where she quickly established herself as one Ziegfeld's top attractions.

With dimpled knees and long dark red hair, the petite, pretty, charming, and often scantly-clad Pennington stood a mere 4' 10" tall and wore only a size 1½ shoe. Because of her diminutive stature, she was referred to as “Penny” by her friends and colleagues. Her nickname for herself was “Tiny”.

During her years in the Ziegfeld Follies she appeared alongside the likes of Bert Williams, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, Fanny Brice (who became her closest friend), Marilyn Miller, and W. C. Fields. She switched back and forth between George White's "Scandals" and the Follies more than once, earning a salary of $1000 per week at one point, and continued to moonlight in the early New York film industry. She also frequented Harlem in its jazz heyday. She was until the late 1920s chaperoned at performances by her mother. She was noted for a quick and witty personality, but was said to be shy off stage and easily embarrassed, and in her latter years was loath to discuss her early life.

Ann Pennington could dance, sing and act, but her first love was dancing on stage, and she never became established as a movie actress.

After her years on stage and screen ended, Pennington toured in vaudeville. She retired from performing in the 1940s. She last appeared on stage in a benefit show for the armed forces in 1946. She had a committed work ethic, and worked wherever the opportunity arose, although as she aged and tastes changed, she ended her stage days in shabby theaters with low rank dance companies. Film of her "Snakes Hips" dance at the Worlds Fair 1939 survives, but is more memorable for her enthusiasm than her star quality in her fading years.

Ann Pennington died in New York City on November 4, 1971, aged 77. She had lived alone on welfare in New York hotels overlooking 42nd street for the previous 20 years since the death of her best friend Fanny Brice ("Funny Girl"). She is buried in the Valhalla cemetery in New York. No family were known to have attended her funeral, which was paid for by the Actors Benevolent guild.

A few years before her death, she was asked what had been the greatest reward from her years of stardom, and her reply was "in living, honey".

This clip features such AMAZING dancing by Ann... so truly inspiring and such a joy to watch! Really focus on her solo spotlight at 1:25 seconds in the clip - the fringe of her dress REALLY show off her hip swivels and movement.

I am truly obsessed with this clip at the moment, so it is so exciting for me to share it with all of you!

Here is Snake Hips (1929)

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)