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Princess Rajah Dance

SUMMARY Princess Rajah performs an "Oriental" or belly dance, and a balancing chair act in her teeth like that often found in folk performances in various cultures from Northern Africa to Greece. Shot outdoors in a street scene at the St. Louis Exposition, the film captures her act in an extreme long shot. She wears a dark, sleeveless dress to mid-calf, with a fringed, low-cut bodice and fringed belt worn at the waist, over multiple petticoats, bloomers, stockings, and heeled shoes. While playing finger cymbals, Princess Rajah performs a variety of dance movements that include spins, traveling movements, shoulder and hip shimmies, a frontal hip lock, other hip movements, and pirouettes. She then grabs a decorated chair in her teeth and swings it above her head, playing the finger cymbals and performing traveling foot movements, followed by floor work with the chair. Returning to a standing position still with the chair in her mouth, she performs shimmies and hip movements while playing the finger cymbals, then lowers the chair in front of her face and spins. She puts the chair down with a flourish, makes a closing gesture to the camera, and starts to exit the frame. CREATED/PUBLISHED United States: American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1904. NOTES Copyright: American Mutoscope & Biograph Co.; 3June1904; H46819. Camera, A.E. Weed. Performer: Princess Rajah. According to vaudeville historians Joe Laurie, Jr. and Douglas Gilbert, Princess Rajah started as a "cooch" (an early form of belly dance) dancer at Coney Island in the 1890s. She was booked for a time at Huber's Museum in New York City before Willie Hammerstein presented her in her vaudeville debut at Hammerstein's Victoria theatre on 42nd Street. In addition to her dance with a chair, she also performed an Oriental dance with snakes. Princess Rajah was a featured act in the ""Mysterious Asia"" concession on the Pike at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. She later married agent Clifford C. Fischer. Filmed May 23, 1904, at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. SUBJECTS Belly dance--United States. Louisiana Purchase Exposition--(1904 :--Saint Louis, Mo.)--Exhibitions. Dancers--Missouri--Saint Louis. Folk dancing. Silent films. Dance. Vaudeville. Shorts. RELATED NAMES Princess Rajah, performer. Weed, A. E., camera. American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. Paper Print Collection (Library of Congress) DIGITAL ID (m) varsmp[email protected](varsmp+1821))
Length: 01:27


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