The Pony Ballet girls in their ‘radium’ dance in Piff, Paff, Pouf, first produced at the Casino Theatre, New York, 2 April 1904

January 26, 2013

The Pony Ballet girls
(Evelyn Marlowe, Beatrice Liddell, Seppie McNeil, Lizette Hawman,
Dorothy Marlowe, Louise Hawman, Carrie Poltz and Ada Robertson)
in their ‘radium’ dance in Piff, Paff, Pouf, first produced at the
Casino Theatre, New York, 2 April 1904
(photo: Hall, New York, 1904)

‘New York, July 2 – The theatrical entrepreneur, like the Athenian of old, is always on the look out for ”some new thing.” Six months ago comparatively few people even knew that there was such a substance as radium in existence. Then the magazines and newspapers began publishing accounts of the metal’s discovery and of its many peculiar qualities. Somehow or other these articles caught the attention of the public, which is seldom interested in scientific matters, and any and everything bearing upon the magic metal was read with avidity. This, of course, was good advertising, and a New York manager promptly set himself to work to reap the benefit. He announced a ”Radium Ballet,” and the mere announcement filled his theater. Then he dressed his coryphees in an inexpensive material smeared with ”radium paint,” which caused it to glow brightly, even when all light had been banished from the stage. This was a stroke of managerial genius, and the man employed to carry this particular manager’s money to the bank promptly got curvature of the spine from overexertion. However, enough radium to produced that terpsichorean illumination would be worth into six figures at the lowest calculation, and entre nous, luminous paint has been used for years, as every child knows.’
(The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Saturday, 2 July 1904, p. 10c)

‘The public is familiar with the scarecrow and the tin man as portrayed by Montgomery and Stone, and of the rubber man by a famous vaudeville acrobat, and now comes Denman Maley as the sand man in Piff, Paff, Pouf, which will be seen at the Majestic Monday, June 12 [1905], and Maley’s novelty is said to be even more ludicrously funny that any of the above mentioned characterizations. The scene in question finds Maley on the seashore. He is made up to represent a sand model, and after some manipulation by the supposed modeller, who accompanies him, he is made to execute an eccentric dance.
‘The Radium ballet, which is one of the most brilliant novelties of Piff, Paff, Pouf, is executed by the eight little English girls who compose the Pony ballet. The stage and auditorium of the theater are made perfectly dark, and then appear the eight little figures in a skipping rope dance. Their white costumes are coated with luminous preparation, a certain percentage of which is said to be the precious radium, that makes them glow in the dark like gigantic fire-flies. It is a very pretty stage effect. Jean Schwartz has composed a characteristic dance, which is one of the most effective numbers in Piff, Paff, Pouf.
‘The eight little dancing girls who compose the English Pony ballet of Piff, Paff, Pouf, live on the community plan. Miss Beatrice Liddell, of their number, acts as financial manager for the Ponies. Their salaries go into one fund, and at the end of the week the unused balance (and it is usually a pretty good sum) is sent to a certain London bank. The Ponies realize that they cannot always be pretty and supple, and are preparing for that time while the sun shines.’
(The Fort Wayne Evening Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Saturday, 10 June 1905, p. 16f/g)


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