Desha Delteil: Balletic Bubble Dancer

Slovenian born Desha Eva Podgoršek (1899-1980) came to the U.S. in 1913, and became a pupil of ballet master Michel Fokine, eventually becoming the lead ballerina in his company. She also worked as an artist model starting around 1916, working for sculptor Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, photographer Nickolas Murray and others. In the late teens, she married Jean Myrio (Jean Henry Raoul Delteil), another Fokine dancer, becoming Desha Delteil.

In the 1920s, some of her work made it on to film. In 1920 a documentary record was made of her Bubble Dance with  fellow performer Tony Sansone. She dances in a cabaret scene in D.W. Griffith’s Isn’t Life Wonderful (1924 ). Finally, she performed a version of her Bubble Dance in Glorifying the American Girl (1929), which is what first made me aware of her.

In the late ’20s and ’30s the pair danced in cafes and nightclubs in London and Paris, including the Kit Kat Klub and the Casino de Paris, where they performed with Josephine Baker. Later they settled in Bergerac and operated a dance school.