The Radium Dance

The "Radium Dance" was written by Jean Schwartz for the Broadway musical "Piff! Paff! Pouf!"   -  the latter opened at the Casino Theater on April 2, 1904 and moved to the Majestic Theatre on December 26.   The items in the collection pictured here include the sheet music,  a perforated metal polyphone disk (a polyphone is akin to a large music box), and a phonograph record.    The entire score can be viewed at http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/sheetmusic/a/a56/a5676/a5676-3-150dpi.html 

Even better, thanks to the recording kindly provided by Karl Ellison, you can now actually hear the Radium Dance! Click here to do so.  According to Karl, who plays the piece, this is an "enhanced version" of the score.

The record (10 inch diameter) was produced by the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden New Jersey. The music was played by the Victor Orchestra and conducted by Walter B. Rogers.

The music sheet to the right appears to show five costumed figures twirling or jumping a rope and glowing in the dark as they do it. It is possible that the costumes worn in the play might have used some sort of luminescent material, but at the time (1904) radium was too scarce and valuable to have been employed for such a purpose. Nevertheless, radioluminescent costumes employing radium were certainly used in the theatre later on  -  I spoke with one woman who wore such a costume as a dancer during world war two.

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Last updated: 05/10/11
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