Who is the lady in the photos?

Photo of 'athletic' dancers
Photo of 'athletic' dancers

by Jeannie Swales

An unusual exhibit of the week today – it’s a new acquisition for Scarborough Museums Trust, and one we know very little about, but would very much like to. So, over to you…

The Trust was recently delighted to receive a donation of a box of photographs, which was found in the attic of a house locally by its new owner. They included many photographs of the lady on the far right of our picture. The one pictured here is actually a professionally-printed postcard, so there may well be other copies of it out there.

The dancers’ poses, bare feet and athletic-style shorts are reminiscent of the kind of dance made popular by American dancer Isadora Duncan, who sought to move dance away from the rigid techniques of ballet towards more natural, fluid movement.

Radically, Duncan danced without either shoes or corsets to liberate her body: she wanted to achieve a naturalness of movement which would allow her to express liberation, transformation and big ideas – dance as high art. Our four dancers all look a bit too jolly for that sort of thing.

Karen Snowden, Head of Collections at the Trust, said: “We believe that the lady in our pictures was a Scarborough girl and we have photos of her in various costumes, either alone or in a group, which makes me think she was probably a dancer at one of the local theatres between the wars.

“We have pictures of her in what appears to be a nurse’s uniform during World War II, and she married either just before or just after the war ended. We believe she had at least one child, a boy.

“It would be lovely to put a name to the face and find out about her: where she danced, if she was a nurse, when she was born, married, and so on. And if anyone can identify where it was taken, we’d like to know that, too.”

The photo is now part of the Scarborough Collections, the name given to all the museum objects that have been acquired by the borough over the years. They are used by researchers ranging from professional to amateur academics, freelance writers producing articles for magazines to television production companies, students studying art, costume design, geology, history, and tourism.

If you have an enquiry or would like access to the Collections – or if you have any information about our picture – please contact Karen Snowden, Head of Collections, on 01723 384506 or Karen.snowden@smtrust.uk.com