Part of “I’ll Say She Is” You DIDN’T See

We’re about ten days out from the closing of the NYC Fringe edition of I’ll Say She Is. As any theatre person will tell you, it takes days and days to mop up in the aftermath of such a thing, to neatly organize the mountain of paperwork that accrues (I have about a third of a filing cabinet drawer devoted to this show), to sort out who has what (we’re stilling holding a vault full of costumes and props from the production), etc. Anyway, when you do clean up and take stock, you inevitably make many happy (and sometimes bittersweet) discoveries.

Here’s one I came across when going through the photos on my iphone. It’s an element of the show that had to be cut for administrative reasons. Sadly, in my view it was one of the most superlative parts of the show, a re-creation of the Apache Dance originally performed by the team of Walters and D’Andrea in the 1924 production. (It had earlier been popularized in the U.S. by the team of Alexander and Smith)


I describe the Apache Dance as a “rough trade sex dance”, a very peculiar fad that was big in night clubs and vaudeville for some reason in the 1910s and 20s. It’s kind of like a mating dance, with elements of domestic violence thrown in to spice things up. Usually the dancers were dressed as Parisian low-lifes: a tough guy in what I think of as a burglar costume, and a streetwalker. In I’ll Say She Is it took place in the opium den, so the dancers wore Chinese costumes.

Our version was cooked by choreographer Helen Pontani, dance captain and chorus member Amber Bloom, and her male partner, whose name I don’t even know if I’m allowed to divulge due to “repercussions”, though he is an amazing dancer, and a cool, thorough professional. Anyway, I found these photos I took of their rehearsal. There’s video, too, but I better check before I share it, lest anyone get in trouble. Anyway, their dance was flippin’ amazing —







  1. I think there must have been an Apache Dance revival in the early days of television. I remember as a little kid seeing it performed several times and finding it rather disturbing.

    What the heck does “administrative reasons” mean?


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