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  • Writer's pictureThe Dance Mistress

Recreating a 1920s French Apache dance

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

Years ago, I worked at the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum. Part of the training to become a docent was to the read two biographies about her life, Southern Daughter and Love Story. I loved the fact that she was a rebel who pushed social norms and she was a generous philanthropist later on in life. She secretly donated money to students at Morehouse College who were pursuing their careers in medicine because she could see that there weren't enough doctors for the African American community in Atlanta.

My favorite story was about the Apache dance she and her dance partner, Sigmund Weil, performed at the Georgian Terrace in 1921. She and her partner dramatically fought on the dance floor, you could see her red and black garter belts and they ended the dance with a dramatic kiss. They were not engaged at the time and apparently it caused a huge scandal and contributed to her getting blackballed from the Junior League. Margaret never forgot this snub and years later when the Junior League hosted a ball in her honor, at the films premier, she feigned illness and didn't attend.

I had always wanted to recreate the dance and hadn't had the opportunity until now. It was very popular with the younger set and is described as the French notion of an Indian brave's cruelty to his squaw. Not politically correct on so many levels so I have modified it to capture the feel of the 20's and I will be doing the shoving in this version. I only had one day to choreograph this version and I hope I will have another performance opportunity to develop it further. Margaret Mitchell photos owned by the Atlanta Public Library.

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