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Typewriter ballet

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Nellie Fox choreographed “The Typewriter Ballet” in the mid-1890s, transitioning from the desk as a typist to the stage as a dancer. This ballet may be the earliest use of the typewriter in dance, a theme that was developed through the years, perhaps rising to its zenith in 1930s cinema. Below are accounts from 1895 and 1922, and select videos.

From How He Does It. Sam. T. Jack, Twenty Years a King in the Realm of Burlesque, M.J. O’Neil, (Chicago) 1895 —

Nellie Fox is pictured above. I could not locate any additional information about her. Please contact if you have any other details.

And decades later, another dancer. From Popular Mechanics Magazine, July 1922 —

What typewriter is that? Original caption: “Left: Ballet Dancer Balancing with One Toe on Roller Carriage of Typewriter, with the Other Free to Tap the Keys. Right: Beginning the Dance.”

Ruby Keeler Taps on Giant Typewriter, 1937 —

And keeping the tradition alive in the 21st century:

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • T. Munk December 30, 2018, 4:05 am

    oh, wow. that seems really unlikely, cuz that looks like a Corona 3, and I doubt the escapement could handle being danced on. 😀

    • Mark Adams December 30, 2018, 6:43 am

      I can barely type on a Corona 3, let alone balance and type on one with my foot. (Probably a prop typewriter?)

  • Michael Höhne December 30, 2018, 2:47 pm

    Don’t sell the amazing Bollywood short! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6FNC6nT584

  • RIchard P December 31, 2018, 4:31 am

    Yeah, I have my doubts about a ballerina on a folding Corona! But it’s a neat trick, however it worked.

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