‘My Fancy,’ the ‘Queen of Sand Dancers,’ as she appeared in her quick-change scena, ‘Winter, Spring and Summer,’ 1908

August 13, 2013

My Fancy‘ (1878-1933), American variety artist, billed as the ‘Queen of Sand Dancers,’ as she appeared in her quick-change scena, ‘Winter, Spring and Summer,’ during her tour of UK music halls, 1908
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, probably 1908)

‘A Leading Lady Dancer.
‘There are many clever dancers on the variety stage, but very few experts. My Fancy figures amongst the latter; in fact, she stands alone in her particular line of business. She does not sing, or attempt to sing; she simply dances, and one would expert to find her in a state of collapse after her hard work, but she leaves the stage with a smiling face and alert step. My Fancy is the picture of good health, and we in Birmingham are looking forward to seeing her in her quick-change turn entitled “Winter, Spring, and Summer,” which she recently introduced to London audiences. In this dancing scene she appears to great advantage. The first scene depicts the Glacé Mountains, Switzerland, and while My Fancy dances with ice skates on marble snowflakes are falling all around her. There is a veritable bed of roses at the back of the stage when “Spring” is presented, and when My Fancy steps forward holding a fancy paper star in her outstretched hands the scene is really brilliant. The dancer impresses her audience, and thunderous applause follows. Then we have “Summer,” a scene at the seaside, and My Fancy going through one of her famous dances on the stands. Such a show as this is assured a warm appreciation in the provinces during the summer months. – Vide the Birmingham Weekly Mirror, April 11, 1908.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 18 April 1908, p. 21e)

The Oxford music hall, London
‘That finished and versatile dancer My Fancy is presenting with such success her novel scena ”Winter, Spring, and Summer.” In the Winter scene she executes a skilful skate dance; Spring discloses her as a dainty maiden who trips lightly, fashioning the while an elaborate pattern from a large sheet of paper, and the concluding scene, Summer, represents the sea-shore, the dancer, who presents a charming (The Era, London, Saturday, 18 July 1908, p. 16a)

‘My Fancy’, otherwise Mae Rose Bawn (née Baker), wife of the English music hall comedian and manager Harry Bawn (1872-1928), was born in St Louis, United States of America, on 23 May 1878. She began her dancing career as a child and was soon teamed with another girl to appear as the Macumber Sisters. She subsequently performed as a trapeze artist, acrobat and illusionist. Her first appearance in England was as a solo turn under her own name at the London Pavilion on 17 December 1894. She later transferred to the Oxford music hall, London, where she first assumed the name of ‘My Fancy’ on 25 March 1895. Afterwards, billed as ‘The Queen of Sand Dancers,’ she appeared at principal variety theatres worldwide, including the opening of Hammerstein’s Olympia, New York, in 1896. During 1897/98 and 1912/13 she visited Australia, in between fulfilling many other engagements in England, America, Egypt, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India and South Africa. ‘My Fancy’ also appeared at the Folies Bergères, Paris.

‘The art of step-dancing has reached perfection in the person of “My Fancy,” the famous danseuse, who is delighting audiences at the Hippodrome [Sheerness] this week. If you can imagine a succession of speedy and difficult movements executed in breathtaking haste, but yet well ordered and in perfect time and rhythm, then you have an idea of the art of which “My Fancy” is so able an exponent. Her dancing is unlike that which is at the present taking London by storm. She executes no dream waltzes, no gliding, fantastic movements; there are no wave-like ripples of the arms, no poetic motions. The key-words of “My Fancy’s” dancing are rhythm and vigour. With her body perfectly rigid and her arms practically motionless, she trips out fleet and airy measures, and great applause is hers. For here we have the art of step-dancing pure and simple, without any tendency to the over-worked, flogged-to-death leg-mania. “My Fancy’s” performance is something more refined. After all, is not expert fleetness of foot a poetic attainment; is not the never faltering rhythm danced out by toe and heel something which deserves a position amongst the high arts? But as a sand danseuse “My Fancy” is still more expert. With a medley of minute movements, with a never-flagging vigour, she taps out the rhythms of the measure, and is, of course, recalled by the fascinated audience.’
(The Sheerness Guardian and East Kent Advertiser, Sheerness, Saturday, 7 November 1908)

‘My Fancy’ died in Ramsgate on 24 February 1933.

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