In 1915 dancer Maurice Mouvet (New York, 1889) wrote "Art of Dancing", a book that included autobiographical notes and a discussion of Tango in Paris and in the United States at the onset of the 20th century. For its historical importance we have transcribed its contents.
In 1915 dancer Maurice Mouvet (New York, 1889) wrote "Art of Dancing", a book that included autobiographical notes and a discussion of Tango in Paris and in the United States at the onset of the 20th century. For its historical importance we have transcribed its contents.
Maurice was well known for his performances of Tango, Apache and Waltz amongst others. He related that he learned to dance Tango with Argentine dancers in Paris before 1910, which surely is one of the earliest testimonies on the subject. His time in Paris coincided with the arrival en-force of the South Americans, including Enrique Saborido, the Gobbis, Florencio Parravicini, and Ángel Villoldo. The World was undergoing a revolution like no other in Dance, precipitated by the invention of the phonograph and cinema. New rhythms and dancing manuals proliferated, the common folk did not need a live band to join in the Dance craze.
Part 1 of Art of Dancing is autobiographical, and was co-written with his partner at the time, Ms. Florence Walton.
In Part 2, Maurice goes into detail about the different dances. In the 1910s Tango was played and danced at a different beat, and Maurice includes suggestions on what tracks to dance. We have embedded the audio of several of these tracks.
Maurice also published The tango and the new dances for ballroom and home in 1914.
In publishing this short sketch of my life and my life's work up to the present, I wish to express my sincere appreciation of the great assistance which Miss Katherine Lane has given me in gathering together the disjointed impressions and vague reminiscences of my early life and connecting them into a literary whole; it is only when one tries to collect memoirs, that one commences to realize how much easier it is to live them than to write them.
New York, Hotel Biltmore, March 24th, 1915.
PART I: AUTOBIOGRAPHY
CHAPTER I: EDUCATION versus ASPIRATION
It would probably be more interesting if I were to begin by saying that my first recollections are tiny images of a very unsteady little boy dancing about on the sunny pavement while the hurdy gurdy man turned his crank. But, unfortunately, like a good many artistic touches, it would lack veracity. What I do remember first is the hardness of the benches in the School of St. Vincent and St. Paul in West 33rd Street and yes, the queer, pungent smell of black dye in the Sisters' robes.
My full name is Maurice Oscar Louis Mouvet and I was born on March 17, 1889, in New York, although I have been variously reported as having made my first appearance in Spain, Austria, Italy, France, and even Germany. Not that it matters specially, except that I am, like about ninety million other people, proud of being an American.
Father and Mother were Belgians, the former having been born in Liége, that city which has found itself so sorrowfully prominent these last few months. Already six of my relatives have been killed - victims of the supreme tragedy of war - but then, what Belgian-American has not suffered? And, most naturally, I am also proud, very proud indeed, of being a Belgian.
Curiously, since these things are supposed to be in the blood somehow, not one member of my family was ever a dancer, or even on the stage. My mother was a modiste and for several years ranked among the best dressmakers in New York. She was constantly promising herself to tasks beyond her strength, rushing about in a mad whirl of activity; but, engrossed as she was, she nevertheless found time for my brother Oscar and me. We were children during the period of kilts for small boys, and the only products of Mother's craft which I recall distinctly are the splendid red and brown plaid kilts which she made for me to wear on my fifth birthday. When they were first tried on, I stole into her fitting-room , balanced myself on a little stool before the long pier-glass, and gazed at myself with tender admiration. Those plaid kilts were the last things Mother made for me, for soon after I was five years old she died. It was then that Father placed Oscar and me with the Sisters, secure in the thought that we should be properly cared for while he traveled about the world upon business for the firm of jewelers by whom he was employed. I mention this only because I fancy that roaming suited Father much better than anything else,and I am sure I have inherited my own taste for wandering from him.
Those years at the Sisters' school are rather vague. I certainly did not study very much, but I liked the early Mass in the tiny chapel. The candles on the altar, the faint light streaking the windows, and the scent of incense, fresh and stale, which always clung even to the wooden pews,made me happy. Though I don't think I was religious: it was probably an awakening of that strong sense of beauty for which I have always been grateful.
When I was nine, Father took Oscar and me to England, placing us in Chatham College, Rochester. Oscar was delighted, for he honestly loved books and studied hard. I was really very proud of him on Prize Days,and I believe that in all the five years we spent there together he never failed to win a prize whenever any were offered. As for me, I never even tried for one. I hated to study. I used to sit at my desk, with my book propped up before me, and invent new ways of swinging my feet. When I had swung them as far forward and backward as possible, I would use a side-motion,which was very irritating to the boy next me.
My lessons were never done on time, and when my discredits mounted high enough I was sent to my room, for a whole afternoon, as a penance. By tilting the mirror in my chest of drawers at a certain angle I was able to see all of myself at once, and it was before this mirror that I first began to dance. By that I mean that it was then I invented a little dance of my own with several steps to be done in the proper sequence. I made myself many graceful bows. I tried the effect of dancing with my hands in my pockets, on my hips, or with my arms hanging limp at my sides. It all seemed very effective to me, and I soon grew to look forward to being penalized. I was anxious for the freedom of the room which Oscar and I shared together,for I knew he would laugh if he saw my grimaces or watched my antics before the mirror. I felt certain that my airy grace would not seem beautiful to him and I hated to be laughed at.
One afternoon when there was a cricket match on in which Oscar was to be the star bowler for our College I was down in the gymnasium while the boys put on their suits. The floor seemed to be unusually slippery and I began to slide about, making quick turns and doing little jig steps. Oscar called to me as they left for the field. “Hurry up , Maurice, if you want to see us begin.”
Of course, I had been looking forward to the match for a long time, but I wanted to have just a few minutes alone in the big gym with the long length of smooth floor. I pretended that I was a bird, flying about with great flapping of my wings. Then I danced with an imaginary partner, doing what I fondly believed to be a waltz, although I had never been taught the steps. After a while, something about the gleaming floor reminded me of ice and I began to move about swiftly, as if I were on skates. It was fascinating. I could imitate all the figures I had seen, skimming about and swaying in time to my own whistled melodies.
Suddenly I glanced out of the window . Some of the boys were coming toward the gym. I ran out to meet them in surprise, eager to know if the match were not coming off. They greeted me rather coldly:
“We won” someone finally told me; "why didn't you come to watch the play?”
I looked at them in amazement too profound for speech.I had spent over two hours alone in the gymnasium, dancing by myself. Perhaps in that moment I had some dim premonition of what my future was to be like, though I do not remember it clearly. I only know that I was terribly ashamed of what seemed a lack of school spirit, and Oscar did not speak to me for a whole day:he was deeply hurt that I had not wished to see him bowl. I gave Oscar a good deal of trouble, altogether.
He was a school monitor, one of his duties being to keep order in a classroom when the master was absent for any reason. It was my custom, the instant the master had gone, to seize a ruler and stand on my chair, beating time and trying to￼conduct the boys as I had seen orchestra leaders do. I whistled the music I was supposed to be conducting and the boys, naturally, would begin to sing or to fancy themselves flutes and violins. It was very hard on Oscar; he never could understand my eagerness for music and motion when I might have been studying.
Sometimes Father came down and took us up to London to the music-halls. It was there I first saw Dan Leno, the best-known comedian and, I believe, the greatest male dancer in England. After that, my mirror-dances included careful imitations of Dan Leno's steps,his gestures, his whimsical facial expressions.
One night (it was New Year's Eve) just before my eleventh birthday, my father took us to the Café de l'Europe. I sat by the marble-topped table, watching the people dance and whirl about in the dizzy English fashion, and wishing I could join them. Some one in the party had filled a small glass with wine and given it to me, and suddenly I jumped up on the table and began to do a step dance to the tune of the “Stars and Stripes" (Sousa's March) which the band was playing. That is one of the most inspiriting marches ever written; and the wine must have gone to my head, for my father lifted me down from the table and stared at my flushed cheeks in great astonishment.
“Where did you learn to jig?” he inquired, while the others were telling me that I had danced very well for a youngster. And,too embarrassed to explain about the mirror in our room at school, I hung my head and replied that I didn't know. However, the dancing germ had taken effect and the next three years at school I studied less, if possible, than I had before. My spirits were always racing at top speed; I wanted always to be running across the fields playing Hare and Hounds, or practicing on the cross-bar in the gymnasium. I did develop at that time muscles in my back and shoulders which stood me in good stead a few years later. But when the boys sat in groups, planning what they should do when they grew up, I was always silent. When they asked me to choose between a member of parliament and a 'bus driver I usually shook my head. There was only one thing I could have chosen, and they would have thought me queer if I had told them. I meant -some way, somehow- to be a dancer.
CHAPTER II: FIRST MONTHS IN PARIS
In the spring of my fourteenth year, Father came to England and took Oscar and me to Paris. He had been having rather a bad time, financially, and as soon as I heard that it was impossible for him to keep me in school any longer, I was delighted. I said at once that I would go to work, and within a few days I secured a position at the Automobile Club. Going to and from work I had to pass Maxim's. I often coaxed the man to let me stand just inside the door to watch the dancing. So much music, so much light, so much perfume— that, and the sound of gliding feet — these are confused impressions that drift back to me now. Maxim's was the most wonderful, the most exquisite place in my small world, but the glimpses of dancing there made me long to see the other Parisian cafés. One evening at the Nouveau Cirque I stood in the doorway a long time watching some specially imported colored people do the cake-walk. The craze for this folk-dance was then at its height and I had already learned the fundamental steps. Over by the orchestra I saw the director in charge of the special dancers and I went to him. It took a lot of courage, but I suppose I had a good deal and, more than that, I had nerve - there is nothing in this world so useful if you really want to get on. I asked him to engage me to dance and I showed him the two steps I knew, interpolating new ones which I invented on the spot. I can still see the face of that director. He was very tall, with rather lean, severe features which did not smile easily- not at all the sort of man you'd expect to find in such a position. He looked at me a full moment and then he said, Two francs fifty! But you can buy a great deal with a franc in Paris, or so it seemed to me then. I was tremendously pleased with myself, and the patrons of the Nouveau Cirque gave my dancing their entire approval. I was very happy: it was such a splendid way to earn money too. What could be more delightful than skimming about a room with music speeding one's feet! It hardly seemed fair to take money for something I enjoyed so much, but I had inherited the Belgian thrift and I was not too young to realize that music, after all, does not clothe one's feet.
“Aren't you rather young?”
I denied it hotly, although I was not quite fifteen at the time and I suspect now that he knew it. But he engaged me, and my first salary was two francs fifty a night.
After a little, I began to go to Montmartre to see the dancing there, of which I had heard. I began to observe the various dancing teams, and it was then that I first thought of myself with a dancing partner of my own. I soon secured an engagement at the Royale with a salary of five francs a night, and I wore a sort of costume with a grey hat and spats, and of course I danced with the guests. I could do the polka and the cake-walk and the two-step, but I did not know how to waltz.
Finally I thought of the Bal Tabarin, which had just opened its doors. I went there every afternoon, paid my entrance-fee and danced, accepting suggestions from my partners and trying to be guided by the music. In that way I learned to waltz, and it is because of this that I have often said that the world and I have exchanged lessons.
The world has taught me to dance, and I have taught the world - or, at any rate, the dancing part of it. While I was at the Royale, the director of the Casino Theatre, Vienna, offered me a salary of 450 kronen a month to come to Austria; this was for myself and two partners. At first I could not believe that he was in earnest — 450 kronen! And such a short time ago I had stood in that doorway at Maxim's staring with wistful eyes at the men and women whose very clothes seemed in some way glorified.
However, I accepted and he advanced me 200 kronen. Then I had to find two girls to go with
me; and when I found them, they had no suitable clothes. I spent all the advance and my own small savings for clothes for these girls, and we went to Vienna third class. I arrived there wearing a Spanish costume, the only clothing I owned, and with but thirty-three cents in my pocket.
CHAPTER III: VIENNA OF THE ADVENTURES
When we opened at the Casino, I knew absolutely nothing of the German language. I think I understood when people said “Ja” or “Nein" because of the way they shook their heads, but of course I soon picked up a vocabulary which included all the best slang. My two dancing partners worried me a great deal. French women, especially in that class, are very frivole, and I was in constant fear that one of them would find herself irresistibly attracted to one of the young Austrians at the stage-door and then - “Adieu, Maurice!”. This would have seemed a tragedy to me just at this time, when our dances were in a fair way to make us famous. The Mattische (not to be confused with the Maxixe) craze was just striking Vienna, but I was relying upon my cake-walk and upon my ability to learn the Viennese waltzes. Already I had begun to feel that the waltz was the one dance, the most beautiful in the world. My cake-walk became tremendously popular. I danced under the name of “Morris” there, because an American name is always a great drawing-card. Everybody in Vienna came to see me. When I was not fulfilling my engagements at the Casino, I went about to the dancing places, paying my five hellers admission and dancing with every one I could, learning and unlearning and learning again in a better way the graceful undulations of that waltz which was born in Vienna and which is the spirit of all that is exquisite, all that is gay and —better still- light-hearted.
In my eagerness to perfect my Viennese waltz, I went whenever possible to places where I might have an opportunity of dancing with the women who had known the waltz since they were little children and who had absorbed it,in some way, so that it had become an expressive part of themselves. I was summoned one evening to appear before a private supper-party in one of the upper rooms of a well-known restaurant, and on arriving there was told by the manager that I must do my very best because it was the Archduke Ferdinand who had requested my appearance. Since his assassination in July, 1914, while his name has so frequently been mentioned in supplying original causes for the war, I have often tried to revive my memories of him. I know that he spoke to us when we finished our dances, saying that he had not been so well entertained in many seasons; but I wish now that I had retained a more vivid impression of the personality of the man whose tragic death threw all Europe into turmoil. However, it was all a part of the day's work then, and I was constantly having unusual experiences.
At a Bal Masquélate one evening, as I stood talking to my two dancing partners, a woman approached me and, calling me by name, asked me to dance. I was wearing a domino and mask, and was exceedingly surprised that she should have recognized me. However, the outlines of her face which showed below her mask were very lovely, her costume was exquisite, and -moreover- I had seen her before and observed that she danced superbly. I was enormously flattered by her seeking me out and we danced several times without interruption.
Then she suggested that we should have supper. I seem to recall that we drifted outside and drove to a restaurant, all in a sort of purple haze; but once inside I suddenly became sane again. I remembered that I had only 20 kronen in my pocket. I began to hope that she might order Wiener Schnitzel and red wine, and was just about to offer a timid suggestion that we have something bourgeois,just for a lark,when she turned to the waiter and ordered oysters and champagne. Oysters! they are very nearly worth their weight in gold in Vienna. I sat there, praying that they might not weigh much. When they were served she promptly sent them back, ordering others. I racked my brains to remember what one did when he could not￼pay his restaurant check, while she kept up a sort of monologue of gay conversation: she laughed a good deal too, I thought of that afterwards. At last she said, I was nearly sick with embarrassment. Then I excused myself and went to the proprietor, offering my watch as security for the check, which was about 40 kronen: Luckily, he knew who I was, and accepted it. We went back and danced once or twice, and then as I saw it was nearly midnight, the hour for unmasking, I said: “Now I shall see your face. I have become very curious." But a few moments before twelve she turned to me suddenly and said she must go; and no persuasion had the least effect.“ Please put me in my carriage, she begged, and I was forced to obey.
“You might at least raise your mask for one instant,” I urged; but she shook her head, and I started to call a fiacre for her. She stopped me. “Never mind, I have my own carriage”; and in a minute or two a splendidly appointed brougham drew up and she entered. I clung to the door.
“Please give me your card that I may call to morrow and learn if you are recovered from the ball," I said. She hesitated a little, bending to draw something from the low pocket in her cloak. Then she handed me an envelope.
“Let us pay our bill and go back to the ball.”
“There is my card. Come and see me tomorrow,' she said. Laughing softly, she drove away.
I went back to the dressing-room and examined the envelope. Inside was just one piece of paper, a 100-kronen note. I never found out who the lady was.
CHAPTER IV: BUDAPEST AND MONTE CARLO
We stayed in Vienna seven months -seven months in which my salary jumped from 450 kronen to 1,250 and then to 3,000 a month. Sometimes I would look at myself in the mirror before which I practiced my new steps and would say, "Is it really you, Maurice, who are receiving 3,000 kronen a month?"
I was always astonished at my successes, although I worked hard to deserve them.
However, I had met many Hungarians during my stay in Vienna and they had urged me to go to Budapest. I hesitated at first, for the distance between the two cities is slight, and I feared that a great part of Budapest had already seen me dance.
Still, the girls were getting restless and a little bored with Vienna, and I decided to go. I went at once to Kelletti of the Park Theatre, a man whose name is as well known in Europe as David Belasco's in America. He engaged me for one month at 3,500 kronen, and I spent all of the advance he gave me upon costumes for the girls. I was anxious about my first appearance, but I need not have been.
There they were dancing the Mazurka, Lancers, Polka, the Czardas; but my cake-walk, my own adaptation of the Viennese waltz and step-dances caught on as they bad in Vienna. Although I had been engaged for one month, we stayed eight, and in that time I saved 8,000 kronen, due, as I said earlier in the book, to a Belgian quality of thrift.
Of course, I was by this time feeling pretty sure of my dancing partners, who had advanced so much since that day in Paris over a year ago, when we started third class to Vienna. But I should have known more about the character of the French dancing-girl it I bad been older. Jacqueline failed to appear at the theatre one evening, and the next day I learned that she had fallen in love with a Hungarian millionaire and would dance with us no more.
Georgette, the other girl, remained with me and we decided to go to Monte Carlo.
"We may as well see life, Georgette," I told her.
"But certainly," she agreed, "when one is young and has money, then is the time to go about."
So we arrived in Monte Carlo, with the 8,000 kronen and the remote chance of an engagement.
Georgie Mahrer (sometimes called "the Boy of Maxim's") was dancing there at the Carlton Hotel and I was extremely anxious to see him. I had heard that it was he who first invented the "Merry Widow" waltz, not known by that name then, and I wanted to learn anything I could about waltzing.
The night I arrived in Monte Carlo, I went over to the Carlton to dinner. The atmosphere of the place exhilarated me. After eight months in Budapest, where the women dress badly, wear few jewels and prefer dull colors, the effect of the ballroom at the Carlton was overwhelming. I suppose the women all wore rather too much jewelry, but they all seemed beautiful and brilliant and enchanting to me. I determined that I would dance there. After Georgie Mahrer had finished an exhibition dance I found my little partner, Georgette, and we waltzed. We had, of course, what I have had reason to believe lay back of my success -nerve. But when we had finished, Georgie Mahrer came over and asked us if we were Austrians. And a little later I was engaged by the director, Montaldi, to dance at the Carlton Hotel for 5,000 francs a month. I did some step-dances, my dandy dance, the cake-walk, several jigs and toward the end-the skating waltz which I bad been developing since that day in the gymnasium at school. It always aroused enthusiastic applause, and I determined to perfect it.
We were in Monte Carlo the season from December to April. They were wonderful months to me. I sometimes went into the Casino and watched the gambling. The piles of yellow gold against the green cloth fascinated me, but I seldom played. Once when I bad lost 500 francs I arose suddenly and went outside to take a long breath. No, I told myself, I will not lose my money in that way. And I didn't.
I made a good many friends in Monte Carlo. Of course, I danced with the guests and I also met a great many men who were interested in my work. It was there that I met Mr. Paris Singer, who played rather an important part in my life at a deciding point.
When I had finished at Monte Carlo and had decided to return to Paris, Mr. Singer urged me to go to the director of the Cafe de Paris and secure an engagement. He gave me a letter to M. Louis Barraye and I left Monte Carlo for the city from which I had departed twenty months before. In that time I had climbed from a salary of five francs a night to 5,000 a month-and, since I was very young and a good deal surprised at my good fortune, I felt that the world was run by magic and that I was some special sort of magician.
CHAPTER V: PARIS OF THE MYSTERIES
It was splendid to be back. Paris was home to me. I already spoke French with greater fluency than English, and I had the feeling, the understanding of the French people. The first days after my return I spent a great deal of time riding about in taxis or sitting in the little sidewalk cafes just watching Paris go by. But I had not forgotten my letter to M. Barraye, and early one evening, before the crowds were great at the Cafe de Paris, I went to see him.
He read my letter and I talked to him about dancing. He said that the Faubourg St. Germain and the Avenue Bois de Boulogne had not yet taken up the Montmartre dancing, but I assured him that I believed they would do so yet. Then I showed him my Monte Carlo contract, telling him that a good many fashionable Parisians had danced at the Carlton while I was there, and be seemed to be impressed. Anyway, be told me to come a little later in the evening and give an exhibition.
In the meantime, I had changed my partner once more, having now secured Leona, a girl with a most unusual personality for a dancer. She had grace and charm and instinctive good breeding. Added to these qualities were fire and energy and effervescing spirits. I was most fortunate to secure her just at this time, and felt sure that we should dance ourselves into the heart of Paris. I brought her to the Cafe de Paris, as M. Barraye had requested, and we gave an exhibition.
Leona and I danced our waltz and cake-walk, and about the room I saw many people I had known in Monte Carlo. I felt myself among friends. Many of them nodded to me and seemed glad to see me. And when we had finished, M. Barraye engaged us.
Then began the part of my success which I had gradually grown to care most about. Through Mr. and Mrs. Jean de Reszke I obtained the entree to the homes in the Faubourg St. Germain. They gave the first thé dansant given in Paris, and after that Mr. de Reszke asked me to come to his house and give instruction.
And I feel that to Mr. and Mrs. Jean de Reszke I owe the beginning of my remarkable success. Their interest in me and their kindness were largely responsible for the splendor of the days which followed. I am also greatly indebted to the American Ambassadress to Italy and to Baronne Henri de Rothschild, both of whom asked me to dance at their salons and to give instruction. In an incredibly short time requests for lessons came so swiftly that I needed a secretary to keep my engagements straight. I began to have more pupils than I could teach. At first I charged 40 and 50 francs an hour, and then 100, and there was never any difficulty about it. I had a big studio of my own where appointments could be made and to which my accompanist came daily.
I gave lessons to the children of all the foreign Ambassadors. I danced at all the Embassies. Paris was very good to me, as she always is to her troubadours. I suppose that the way to the heart of Paris is through her sense of entertainment. Amuse her, interest her, surprise her, make her light laughter more gay, and you have found that way.
CHAPTER VI: THE DANCE OF THE APACHE
It was one evening, after I bad been in Paris about six months, that I was sitting at a table in the Cafe de Paris, feeling rather despondent. I was beginning to think that there was not much in dancing, feeling a little bored by the same crowds, the same perfumes, the same dances, and almost wishing I had not signed a contract to stay, when Max Dearly, a well-known dancer at the Moulin Rouge, came in and asked me to go out with him, telling me that we "should find something novel"; so I went with alacrity. I was just in the mood to welcome any variation of my present life, exciting as it ordinarily seemed to me. I hurriedly got my hat and stick and we started.
He took me down to the Halles -the markets, a place very much like Washington Market in New York, with the possible exception that the Paris markets are undermined by the most unspeakably filthy, the most dangerous dives that any city has ever produced. I had never seen them before, but I had heard tales.
"We shall go to the Caveau des Innocents," he explained, and I followed him down a flight of dark, evil-smelling stairs, badly lighted and gruesome. "Do not be alarmed, or at least, do not show any alarm," be cautioned me. "They say that murder is an almost daily occurrence here."
He may have been joking or he may have meant really to warn me, but I did not let him see that I was nervous: I only felt for a surer footing on the slippery stairs.
I was unarmed and so was Max, but I did not want to draw back then. As we descended the stairs I heard the sound of shots cracking, mingled with the tinkle of splintered glass.
"So long as they use glasses for targets it will be safe enough," I thought, and followed Max into the room. It was lighted by green and red lights. They were oil lamps, and their smoke-covered shades leered down from the walls with a baleful glare. There was sand on the filthy floor and rough deal tables about the room. At these tables groups of Apaches were playing poker with their knives open on the table beside them. I had beard of this underworld warfare which no police has ever been able to suppress, and wished myself well out of it. The Apache is the gunman of Pads, and this Caveau des Innocents, so ironically named, was one of the most popular haunts of the Apache and his girl.
Over in a corner of the room stood a rickety piano and crouched over its stained keys was a villainously ugly little hunchback. His very deformity took on a grotesque menace in that place. I nudged Max and murmured something about going, but he stopped me.
"Let us wait and see what happens," he urged. He had heard the strains or music from the impossible piano and he recognized the air.
It was la valse Chaloupée -the waltz of the Apache- and a man leaning over one of the rough tables laid down his poker hand and, crossing the room, grabbed one of the girls. She did not seem willing to dance, but with simple persuasion he raised one of his hands and gave her a smart smack across her mouth. It was a novel way to begin a dance, and I held my breath. She did not seem to resent it. Thoroughly cowed, she submitted to be taken into the middle or the floor, and the peculiarly vicious and savage dance commenced. As it proceeded she seemed to warm to her task and threw all the primitive savage grace which some or these women possess into the dance. When it came to its spectacular conclusion with the girl swinging far from the floor, her thin arms clasped tightly about the neck or her partner, with sudden violence he unloosed her hold and pushed her none too gently onto the floor near his table. Then he returned, picked up his poker hand, and continued the game as if there had been no interruption.
The effect upon Mr. Dearly and myself was quite startling. "Maurice," he said, in great excitement, "there is a dance that will revive the interest of Paris: it will make a sensation which has never been equalled. We must learn it."
So I went over and spoke to the man, when there was a convenient pause in his game. I offered him a drink and asked him to show me some of the steps. He was very amiable in spite of his rough manners and brutal face, and said he would teach me. There in that little underground cave I took the first and only dancing-lesson I have ever received, from one of the most notorious crooks in Paris -or in Europe, for that matter. When we finished he looked at me with what I took for grudging approval. "Pas mal" he grunted, and I gave him a silver piece, not daring to show any gold in that place.
It took fully six weeks practice to prepare Leona and myself for this new dance. I imitated the dress of that Apache who bad taught me the steps; I copied as nearly as I could his facial expressions, all his terrible gestures. I dropped my jaw in the same grimly vicious reproduction of brutality that had crept into his face unconsciously. Leona too wore the simple little black frock, and trained her features to something between abject fear and devotion.
When we finally presented it at the Cafe de Paris, it seemed to me that all Paris was watching. For a few minutes I had some creeping doubts about its reception, but stimulated by that music and by whatever it is that makes me love dancing almost as my life, I forgot the crowds about us at the tables and for a little while I was an Apache, more ruthless, more savage, more violent, more fearless than any of them.
The sensation astonished even myself. I had never known such excitement in that cafe before. The director kissed me on both cheeks and even wept a little in his delight. Leona and I were repaid for our weeks of work and for the intense nervous strain under which this first performance had placed us.
Of course, after that we danced it every night and people began to talk of it everywhere. The newspapers published exaggerated accounts, and the dance naturally got an unusual amount of publicity.
It was about the middle of April, 1910, while I was dancing the Apache waltz nightly at the Cafe de Paris, that I received a telegram from Sir Stanley Clarke requesting me to go to Biarritz to dance before His Majesty, King Edward Vll. Both Leona and myself were exceedingly grateful for this chance to appear before that English king who loved Paris and whose reputation for kindliness, for democracy, had endeared him to thousands of French people. I think Leona worried a good deal about her clothes, and I know I kept reminding myself that, after all, kings and queens were very much like other people.
I do not remember much about the journey to Biarritz, for I was certainly a little nervous, filled with anxiety to do my best and afraid lest I might disappoint the King.
We danced before him in his private sitting-room, doing the Apache dance twice. He was a very human King and knew exactly what to say to Leona and myself to put us at ease. When we were finished be gave me a gold cigarette box with the royal seal upon it, complimenting us both in terms of the highest praise. As I passed through the wide corridor a few minutes later, on my way upstairs to change my costume, the King was standing by the window and turned when he heard me.
"How do you have the strength to swing the girl so far out while she clings to your neck?" one of his party asked me, probably at the King's suggestion.
I did not know just how to reply to that.
"The muscles of my back" I began rather shyly, but the King interrupted.
"Would you be so ungallant as to let a lady fall if she were clinging to your neck?" he asked the man who had put the question. They all laughed, and I seized the opportunity to escape upstairs.
His Majesty's stay at Biarritz had a sad conclusion; he was taken ill there, and was removed to England, where he died shortly afterward. Our dance was probably one or the last parties he attended before his death.
That year brought sadness to me too, for Leona, my little dancing partner, who had danced with me into fame and comparative wealth, died of pneumonia. I was greatly affected by her death, for it was impossible to replace her either artistically or personally. Every one who remembers her will agree with me that she possessed remarkable talent and unusual personal charm. For a long time I was greatly depressed, so much so that I stopped dancing and joined my father in the country. It was the first real vacation I bad taken in over three years. But I could never be contented to live in the country. I suppose the attraction of the city is too strong for me ever to remain far from the music and the sound of quickly passing feet. That sound of moving feet! I am always hearing it on the shining ballroom floor, and to me it is one of the most delicious sounds in the world. It carries the rhythm of life to me.
It was upon my return to Paris that I was approached by the secretary of Louis Martin, who was passing through Paris. A good many people had asked me why I did not go to America. For a long time I had been particularly keen to go, but now, saddened as I was by the death of Leona, I began to wish to change my place of work for a while, to start over in new surroundings. Having been two seasons at the Cafe de Paris I had increased my knowledge of dancing so much that sometimes it startled me to remember myself as a little boy standing in Maxim's doorway, or dancing at the Nouveau Cirque, with but two steps of the cake-walk for my entire repertoire.
While I was dancing at the Cafe de Paris a party of South Americans had begun to dance the Argentine Tango. I promptly learned it, and just before Leona's death we were begining to dance the four or five fundamental figures of that Southern dance, than which there is none more subtle, more insinuating or more alluring when properly done.
"Your Tango and Apache dances would be a sensation in New York," Gaston Ettaire (Louis Martin's secretary} told me. And I listened. He engaged me and my new partner, Madeleine d'Arville, to start with a salary of 20,000 francs a month. Yes, it seemed a lot of money, and it was; but I am glad to say that I justified the expenditure. I left Paris with mixed emotions. So much had happened since I arrived there from Monte Carlo and I had grown so attached to my studio and to my friends that I wondered a little if I was wise in going so far away to a country where I was a stranger, even though it was the country of my birth. But something urged me forward. No doubt it was that spirit of wanderlust which my lather bad and to which I referred at the beginning of this sketch. At any rate, I set my face toward America with high hopes and pleasant anticipations. It is hardly necessary to add that I have never regretted it.
CHAPTER VII: NEW YORK AND LOUIS MARTIN'S
Madeleine d'Arville and I landed in New York on October 14th, 1910. She did not speak any English at all, and my own was rather elementary. I found that I spoke very like a little boy of twelve, using simple words and incorrect expressions. I had learned to speak Spanish, Italian, French, German, Hungarian, and they had all been easier to pick up than the English I dropped on leaving school. However, I was able to talk to Mr. Louis Martin in French, and went to see him the day we landed. He desired me to make my first appearance on Monday night, and said:
"I am afraid we shall have trouble with the police about your Apache dance. Perhaps you will be able to alter it, to modify it a little."
But I objected strenuously.
"No," I protested, "that would spoil it. I will fight this out. There was never any trouble in Paris."
"But no," shrugged Mr. Martin, "New York is different. American people are different. You will find it so."
On the night of my first appearance I put 880 in my pocket and went to see Jules, the head waiter, and said, "Here is $30 for yourself, $30 for your waiters and $20 for the musicians. Promise me that just after midnight the orchestra shall play the "Merry Widow" waltz and that you will see that the space is clear in the centre and that there is no confusion."
He promised, and on my first night I danced into the centre with Madeleine, her yellow hair cut short in the style which many American actresses are now imitating. We danced the Viennese waltz which I bad been practicing for several years, and then we did the Argentine Tango. On that night I did not attempt the Apache, but at the end of the first week I decided that Mr. Martin's fears of police interference had no foundation and that I would risk it.
As in Paris, the Apache dance was received with enthusiasm and appreciation. It is, I suppose, an intensely brutal dance, but it is not vulgar with deliberate vulgarity. It is the dance of realism, of primitive passion; as a picture of life in the raw it has beauty and artistic strength. For whatever reasons they chose to give themselves, fashionable New Yorkers flocked to Martin's. I usually did the Apache very late -about two in the morning, when the room was hazy with smoke and Madeleine's pale but vital little face stood out drawn and intense as she stared up into mine. There was always a hush over the room which made the scrape of the violin grate on the ear like a harsh noise; and when Madeleine fell from my neck, a crumpled, exhausted little heap at my feet, there was always an instant's poignant silence before the leaping applause.
This was the opening of cabaret in New York. Cabaret, as it has since grown to be known here, is a far cry from the original Parisian cabaret, which is a real café chantant. There, in the small cafes of the Latin Quarter, you find poets, artists, writers, students in little groups. Whenever there is a murder, a scandal, a love-affair which gains prominence, they write a song about it and sing it during an evening of eating, drinking, smoking, and gaiety.
While I was dancing at Martin's there was a1so a Spanish solo dancer and one or two singers. The long intervals in between gave the guests a chance to chat, and this was the nearest approach to the ideal cabaret that New York bas ever had.
Of course, I soon began to give lessons, for which I charged $25 an hour, exactly as has so often been quoted. About this time I also began to dance the Turkey Trot, but I never danced it with the grotesque movements of the shoulders which made it so unpopular among people of refinement and good taste. My objection to it in the form in which it was danced in 1911 and the early part of 1912 was based purely on the ground of its ugly, inartistic aspect. I never taught it in that form, though of course I gave lessons in turkey trot, waltz and tango. And I gave hundreds or lessons to a large number or fashionable people.
Mr. and Mrs. de Reszke had given me a great many letters or introduction, and among them one to Madame Nordica, to whose memory I am glad to have this chance to pay a tribute of gratitude. She was most gracious to me, entertaining me and widening my circle or friends in the wisest possible way. During her engagement in Boston at the opera there, she gave a supper party to her numerous friends, inviting me and my partner to come over especially from New York so as to present our dances, including the Apache, before a socially and artistically representative Boston audience. It was at this dinner that an incident occurred which affected my entire future.
Seated next to my little dancing partner, Madeleine d'Arville, was a young Englishman, a really delightful boy with charming manners and a particularly attractive face. This was my own masculine impression, and Madeleine seemed to share it, greatly intensified by her feminine point or view. He was instantly attracted to her, also. She was, as I may not have said, very small and lissom; her tiny, piquant face, framed in thick yellow hair, made her look more like a precocious child than the very sophisticated product of Montmartre which she actually was.
I do not think I paid much attention to the romance which was developing across the table from me that evening, but the next day I regretted my lack of intuition; for Madeleine, leaving me only a curt note of farewell, eloped with her young English boy-and I was without a partner.
CHAPTER VIII: I FIND A NEW PARTNER
At this time I was appearing in a musical comedy, "Over the River," in which Eddie Foy was starring. Madeleine had left me after the evening performance on Tuesday, and Wednesday's matinee found me unable to go on. Mr. Ziegfeld, the manager, made frantic efforts to replace her, and that he succeeded so satisfactorily is now a matter of theatrical history.
Madeleine's desertion seemed at the time a most terrible disaster, but it afterward proved to be one of the most fortunate events in my experience, for it brought me the dancing partner who has remained with me ever since and who is now my wife.
About seven o'clock on this Wednesday evening Mr. Ziegfeld telephoned me to come over to the theatre for a rehearsal, saying that he had found a girl who, he believed, would be satisfactory. He presented me to her.
"Miss Florence Walton," he announced, and I bowed.
We appeared that evening with but hall an hour's rehearsal, ol which Miss Walton tells in the following chapter, and I immediately felt that she would surpass Madeleine d'Arville in every particular. Some of my friends did not agree with me at first. She bad made her reputation as a character dancer and was unaccustomed to public performances of ballroom dancing. Several persons said to me, "I do not think she is quite the girl you want, Maurice: she is not quite suitable."
But I would not listen, a fact for which I cannot be too thankful; for she swiftly proved herself the most adaptable, intelligent, pliant partner I had ever bad.
Since those early days in "Over the River" we have danced together almost constantly for three years. Our engagements have taken us to London, Paris, Petrograd, Berlin, Vienna, Deauville, Trouville, Dieppe -all over Europe, in fact, as well as over a great part of the United States.
Probably the one experience which we shall always remember with the greatest pleasure was our appearance before King George and Queen Mary. We were dancing at the Alhambra in London when we received a command to appear at Ken Wood, the country seat of the Grand Duke Michael of Russia-, at a garden party he was giving in honor of their Majesties the King and Queen. The only stipulation made was that Miss Walton should not wear any gowns with slit skirts, a fashion of which Queen Mary heartily disapproved.
When we arrived at Ken Wood, expecting to appear in lour or 6ve numbers, we learned that we were expected to assume the chief responsibility for the entertainment. We hastily rearranged our program and gave sixteen dances, among them my skating waltz. As we were leaving the ballroom, one of the King's staff came up to us and asked if we would do the tango. We were very much surprised, for Queen Mary's objections to the tango and one-step had been widely discussed in the newspapers.
"But she wishes to see exactly what the tango is like," we were told; and giving the signal for the orchestra to play "Y... como le va?" we began to dance.
"Why, it's charming!" she said to us when we had finished, "I had no idea it was so pretty." And then we had to do another one-step, because Queen Mary thought that dance "so very amusing."
As a special proof of royal favor, Miss Walton was presented with a bracelet in which the Imperial crown is set with rubies and diamonds, and I received a scarf-pin, designed with the Imperial crown.
During the general dancing which followed our program, Grand Duke Michael came up to Miss Walton and asked if she would dance with him. She replied that she would be very pleased to do so, but be added rather ruefully:
"The sad part of it is that I can do only one of your dances."
"Which one is that?" she asked.
"The skating waltz-and I suppose that has to be danced quite by oneself."
1. THE APACHE DANCE AS IT IS DONE TODAY
In the pictures of this Apache dance it will be seen that I have varied the form slightly from the one which I originally used. In its present guise it is, possibly, less brutal, less savage, but it is more intelligible to the average person. The Apache has no exact prototype in America, for the gunmen, whom the Apache is supposed to resemble, are for the most part evil, coarsened by crime and its environment, without having any of the instinct for expression which the Parisian Apache possesses so vitally.
To begin this dance, after assuming the costume, I usually watch my face in the mirror for a few seconds, until I have succeeded in settling it into the half-surly, half-bullying look of aggressive brutality. I drop my jaw, keep my lips slightly apart, thrusting the under lip forward; and also hold a cigarette in the corner of my mouth.
Pushing my partner rather roughly onto the floor I ask her, in pantomime, for money. She shows rue that she has none, turning out the pockets of her apron. I am suspicious; I demand that she shall give me money, but she still refuses, looking a little frightened. I threaten her with my upraised hand and she shrinks away, her arm before her face to defend herself. Then I catch her violently in my arms and the actual dance begins. It is partly a waltz and partly a sort of grim stalking like the stealthy movement of animals seeking prey. It grows more rapid until we whirl about with such speed that I often cannot see anything at all; a sort of film comes over my eyes for an instant. But this clears away as we slow down, and in a sudden rage I throw the girl from me. Then I make rather a wild clutch for her, grip her so tightly with my right arm that she has the frantically helpless look or a snared bird- and we dance again.
Sometimes I drop her to the floor, keeping one arm beneath her, recovering her and my own balance suddenly and throwing us both into the whirling part or the waltz with yet greater violence than before. I am likely to vary the end; but when I have shoved her away from me so that she hall stumbles to the floor, she turns, puts her hands carelessly into the pockets of her bandanna-handkerchief apron, and looks up at me defiantly. There is a challenging look in her eyes, as if she would assure me that, in spite of my terrific actions, she has not suffered greatly at my hands. In the eyes of the little Parisian cocotte, looking at the real Apache, there comes that scared look of devotion, a conquered expression of frightened joy.
It will probably be of interest to the reader to quote in this connection the account of our dancing in general and the Apache dance particularly which Amelie Rives gives in her famous novel, "World's End!" I repeat it practically in full, using the name by which she called me; the name certainly offered but a thin disguise, as the descriptions of both Madeleine and myself are almost startling word-portraits. She says:
"Auguste had a good-natured, impudent face, with round nostrils and round, dark blue eyes, bland with a serene effrontery. He was of medium height, well-knit and agile, with the grace that is expressive of a springlike strength beneath. He held his partner to him by a hand spread flat between her shoulders -the gesture of a feline that has put bis sheathed paw lightly on some object, yet means to hold it by bis claws if necessary.
"The girl was of an exquisite vulgarity -a slim, rounded bit of femininity whose very bones seemed pliant. Her small, wedge-shaped face with its blackened eyes and crimsoned lips looked sickly under its wings of cropped hair, dyed straw-color.
"Auguste was in ordinary evening dress for this first dance, and the girl wore a short slip of thin, very clinging stuff over fleshings. At first they spun so fleetly and evenly over the sleek floor that one was reminded of the motion of 'sleeping' tops. Then the dance grew more measured, more accented, and gradually passed into the most intricate maze."
It is in the description of the "Apache" dance that the author's pen drips red ink. She says:
"Auguste, in rough dress, with a vulgar little cap shading his rapacious, questing eyes and a brutal red neckerchief about his throat, had taken on the dignity that always lurks in latent ferocity. His mate, in her black calico gown, her shock of bleached hair chopped off as for the guillotine and falling over a red neckerchief like his own, was no longer the pert little street-decoy of the fleshings and revealing slip, but a tranced, piteous victim of sex, drawn to the devouring male like a seabird to the glare of the pharos that means its death.
"The dance begins. It is a dance of satiety on his part, of not-to-be-rebuffed, utterly debased pleading on hers. He is the carnivore whose lip-bristles are stiff with blood, who has eaten of sweet white meat till he wishes to rend and grind what he can no longer swallow. She is the blood that cries from the ground where it is spilt to be spilt again- the degraded flesh that does not feel itself alive until the fangs ot the devourer are in it.
"To pulse-beats of music the two circle and turn, facing each other, she pleading and he flinging her away from him. Once, with a sudden spasm of pent rage, be cuffs her right and left on her whitened jaws, as the tiger cuffs his mate grown too familiar. But now he catches her to him; he bends her backward, sideward, as though he would break her fragile bones and hear them grit together in the warm pulp or her flesh-then flings her from him like a little doll of rags. Back she goes, still back and back, until her cropped poll rests upon the boards and her slight body is an arch of quivering flesh from head to heels. Her black skirts spread withered about her. She is like a dark, soiled flower picked from the gutter and cast back again -a poor 'fleur du mal' dashed back upon the pavement from between the crevices of which it sprang.
"When she trembles up -crouches, fawns- he pounces; this time he has her up by the wrists. Up she goes, up and up. He whirls her round his bead like a living sling -a sling of flesh in which the heart is the stone to be slung forth. Round and round he whirls her. What will the end be? Will he hurl her out above the prettily dressed women in the little gilded chairs, to fall among them? But no -he drops her finally back within his own claws; spinning ever faster and faster, ever closer and closer he holds her until, blended into one shape like a madly whirling toy, they dart from the room, and the Apache dance is over."
Something must be allowed the dramatic and literary instinct of the author, particularly as to the conclusion of the dance, an ending which I seldom if ever used. But for sheer, audacious pen-painting I believe this picture by Princess Troubetskoy has few equals.
2. THE SKATING WALTZ (By an Observer)
"This waltz, which Maurice invented when a boy at school and developed into a unique solo dance, cannot be taught by pen-and-ink instruction. Its chief requisites, unusual muscular control and imagination, are impossible to simulate. If you already have them both, and if you are a talented ice skater, your chances of learning this waltz are good. Maurice dances it exactly as if he were actually skating, and, if he were to dance behind a partition extending to his waist, the illusion of his being on ice with skates would be incredibly realistic.
"When he begins the dance to the music of 'Innamorata' (although any waltz with a distinctive melody can be used), he strikes out with his right foot in the 'straight-away.' His foot, propelled entirely by the very slight wriggling of his heel, glides across the floor so easily, so smoothly, that you find yourself planning to imitate it when you are at home. Just by way of increasing your respect for well-trained muscles, try to do this straight-away skating-step. Do not run and slide on a polished floor, but try to proceed by the almost imperceptible movement of your heels. If you move two inches you will feel the fine glory of achievement.
"From this opening skating-step Maurice swings into the 'Dutch roll,' a term which all skaters understand, and then into the 'outer edge.' In this figure the sense of bis having miraculously replaced his thin dancing pumps with steel runners is astounding. He sways bis body, moving his arms in perfect accord with the music; he darts across the shimmering boards; he takes a swift run backward, slides, digs the toe of his skate into the ice, pivots rapidly and, catching his balance, swings into the 'figure 8.' The '8' is especially effective when waltzed in this way. With his hands clasped behind his back, Maurice makes the intricate turns, weaving himself in and out as if every muscle were made of elastic and every bone of flexible steel. And with it all he never hitches his shoulders, nor is his body ever jerked into an awkward posture by the effort of dance-skating by the heel method.
"There is always an instant's breathless anxiety among his audience. It is at the moment when, after making an unbelievably rapid swoop, all in correct time, he springs into the air to land on one toe and start skating forward without a pause. It seems impossible that his muscles should permit it. He will certainly stumble, you tell yourself. But he does not. Those flexible steel wires have relaxed and then sprung back, taut and reliable.
"Among the leaping solo dances which the Russian men do -and they are the nearest approach to absolute beauty combined with acrobatic skill which the men of any nation have attained- there is no dance which approximates the exquisite symmetry, the flowing grace, the irresistible imagery of this skating waltz. That a man in conventional evening dress with patent leather pumps should be able to reproduce the skimming motions or iceskating so vividly that even his most stolid observers are stimulated to vigorous enthusiasm, is in itself a remarkable accomplishment. And that he should do this thing in so supremely poised and dignified a manner that every gesture or his arms and every rippling attitude or his body are distinct symbols of a lovely grace, makes of the performance a unique contribution to dancing, as an art."
CHAPTER X: By Florence Walton
When I go back home to visit and meet some of the girls with whom I went to school, one of them is pretty sure to say, "Oh, Florence! what a romantic life you lead!" And I never disagree, for to me there is the finest spirit of poetry and romance in the life of a dancer.
I was born in Wilmington, Delaware, where I went to a parochial school, graduating when I was sixteen. That summer I went to Philadelphia to stay with an aunt, and while there met a girl about my own age who was on the stage. She talked to me a great deal about the fascinations of the footlights, the same old stuff that every young girl says, but it's all true enough to some of them. Plenty of actresses are never disillusioned by the hard work and the reality back of the tinsel: I'm sure I never was. I have always loved the stage and it has never lost its quality of mysterious allurement.
This little girl-friend took me to the manager of a summer stock company where they were reviving an old musical comedy, "Miss Bob White." He looked at me and then said:
"I think you would make a nice little Quaker girl," and he engaged me, at $l2 a week. I really did not see how I should ever spend it all, and I was certain I couldn't be worth such a magnificent sum. However, I accepted, and was on the stage two weeks before my aunt learned of it. I used to get off before the last act, and she understood that I was spending my evenings with one of the girls. When she discovered what I was doing, she sent for my father. He came up to see me at once.
At first he was very much distressed but finally he said, "Well, honey, you do look right nice as a little Quaker girl. Perhaps if you just stay in Philadelphia you will be all right."
It sounds very amusing now, but I had never heard the New York jokes about poor Philadelphia then.
As might have been expected, my friend soon wanted me to go to New York with her. I was frightfully keen to go. I had never been to New York and I had talked to enough actor-folk by that time to realize its position as the Mecca for theatrical people. I wrote to Father and he, being wiser than many parents in their dealings with girl children, consented. He must have recognized instinctively that I was bound to go somehow and that it was better to go with his permission than to go defiantly. Anyhow, I went.
New York thrilled me. I cannot analyze the impression it mo.de upon me those first few days, but there are plenty or poets and prose writers who have done it better than I could. I know I began to dream of making so good on the stage that New York would know it, though without any clear notion of how I was to do it.
We went to see "It Happened in Nordland" the night we arrived, and as that was about to go on the road we decided to try to get into the company. I waited a long lime for a chance to see Lew Fields, who was managing the show as well as acting in it. I was very much afraid of him. When be saw me and I told him I danced, he said rather gruffly, "Well, let me see what you can do." I felt paralyzed for an instant and then I had an idea. In the piece, Lew Fields sang and did an eccentric dance alone. I tried to remember it and succeeded in doing an imitation of his dance. It couldn't have been wonderful in any way, but he evidently thought it showed promise, for he engaged me.
After that there were several seasons in which I advanced to specialty dancing with a girl partner. I learned a lot of character dances -Spanish, Dutch, the Italian tarantella, and that sort of thing. I was gradually acquiring a reputation, but I was not burning any electricity over theatre entrances. Then my chance came, just as it does in books.
About five o'clock one evening in February, 1912, while I was rehearsing for a piece called "The Rose Maid," Mr. Ziegfeld came in and spoke to me. He was very pale and trembling with nervousness. I was not on the stage at the time, so I went with him over to one corner of the room.
"Has anything happened?" I asked at once, for I had never seen him so perturbed.
"Yes," he said, ''Maurice has no partner. He had to miss his matinee. Now is your chance, Miss Walton. I believe you can dance with him at the evening performance of "Over the River."
I must have gasped or choked or whatever it is that heroines do when they hear startling news. I had never seen Maurice but once, and knew almost nothing about his style of dancing.
"Come over as soon as you can and have a rehearsal," Mr. Ziegfeld said, and started for the door, but or course I stopped him. "I can't go. I've been rehearsing here all day and I look awful."
He laughed. "You don't expect to turn down an opportunity like this because or the way you happen to look at this minute, do you?" be inquired crisply. And I said I would come.
Maurice was on the stage of the Globe Theatre when I arrived. He was immaculate, wearing a silk hat and carrying his stick. My heart sank, as the novelists say. But it did, anyhow. After we were introduced he turned to me abruptly, "Do you want to dance with me?" he said. "I am not sure that I am good enough," I answered truthfully; but he said we would try it.
"This is my waltz," he said, swinging me at once into the Viennese waltz, which I had never danced before. "Just one, two, three, -one, two, three. All right."
"This is my tango," and he started on the simplest forms of the most intricate, most difficult dance in the world.
"This is my turkey trot," he said next. "Don't shrug your shoulders. Just follow me."
And with this much instruction I appeared with Maurice that evening. He would whisper to me not to keep my back so stiff, but it was stiff with fright and he would whisper, "Just follow me." And I did -and I have been following him ever since!
Maurice Mouvet - Art of Dancing - Part 2: Dancing, the Art (1915)