2 3 Throwback Thursday and Vaudeville | Ballet Webb

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday and Vaudeville

Throwback Thursday and Vaudeville

The term vaudeville that refers to American variety entertainment, came into common usage after 1871. The word supposedly originated from the French vaux de ville, meaning “worthy of the city’s patronage”, according to showman M.B. Leavitt. But the term’s true origin is debated.

Benjamin Franklin Keith is considered to be the father of American Vaudeville. In his home state of Massachusetts he established a museum and built the Bijou Theatre. The programs at the Bijou offered “something for everyone”, and publicity emphasized that the acts were decent and appropriate for everyone.

Printed cards handed to audience members requested:

Gentlemen will kindly avoid carrying cigars or cigarettes in their mouths while in the building, and greatly oblige. The Management
Gentlemen will kindly avoid the stamping of feet and pounding of canes on the floor, and greatly oblige the Management. All applause is best shown by clapping of hands.
Please don't talk during acts, as it annoys those about you, and prevents a perfect hearing of the entertainment. The Management

Vaudeville developed into a popular form of variety entertainment. It usually included a very diverse array of short acts. These ranged from singing groups to animals acts, contortionists, dancers, magicians – you name it! Each act lasted from 6-15 minutes and one evening’s entertainment would have about 13 acts.  

The influence of vaudeville is still felt today, and many famous performers got their start on a vaudeville stage.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:
Dance History Factoid #147:
Vaudeville was an early 20th century type of entertainment that featured a mix of specialty acts.”

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