The recurrent pose 48


Following some leads about American dancer Ted Shawn (1891–1972) turned up this series of photos from 1923 in which he adopts the Flandrin pose whilst enacting “The Death of Adonis”. The series is from a large collection of Shawn photos at the NYPL Digital Gallery. The dancer had dark hair which has here been covered by a light wig in order to convey a statue-like appearance. Poses plastiques, as they were known, were a common Victorian form of titillation which enabled variety audiences to admire near-naked women and men masquerading as living statuary or as figures from mythology and famous paintings. As with many Victorian fashions, they persisted into the early 20th century. Ted Shawn at this time was still married to dancer Ruth St Denis, and the pair had no qualms about displaying their bodies tastefully for the camera. Shawn is a fascinating figure so there’ll be a little more about him tomorrow.






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Ruth St Denis

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