Children’s Modern Dance School (Mass.): Lisa Larsen (1953)

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This is the companion photograph to one that was in a vintage photo gallery by “I Know Belle” that I reblogged yesterday:

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The white dresses are a dream: pity the first shot isn’t too sharp. The session seems to come from one of “Life” photographer Lisa Larsen’s assignments: to record the daily life of a Massachusetts children’s dance school in 1953 – possibly since it taught modern dance.  Luckily we seem to have been spared lots of repetitive shots of little girls in tutus and leotards, giving us these two and the record of a trip to the beach…… ok, repetitive shots of little girls in black swimming costumes that look remarkably like leotards:

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…..showing that messing about in the sea doesn’t change much from generation to generation – and one where they seem to have got off their charter bus for a break (you can see the writing on the side of the coach that says “Children’s Dance Theatre”):

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The period frocks are as delightful in their own way as the lovely formal white dresses in the first two images. The ones on the left look like they could have been worn at any time from the ‘twenties to the ‘forties, while the striped one on the right with the belt and buttons looks very ‘fifties. Amazingly (she was a seminal photographer of Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly, show girls, J F Kennedy, and a whole lot more) Lisa doesn’t have her own wiki. Here’s the best concise bio I could find:

“Larsen, Lisa (1925 – 1959)

Born in Germany, Lisa Larsen moved to the United States as a teenager and promptly became a freelance photographer for many publications such as Vogue, Glamour and in particular, Life. At the beginning, she was mostly assigned entertainment and fashion stories, depicting Hollywood stars, Grace Kelly in New York before she embarked for Monaco, John F.Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding but also America’s youth. Soon, her work became more political and the German photographer turned into a pioneering female photojournalist (before prematurely dying from breast cancer), travelling around the world, always eager to depict emotional, realistic, warm and sympathetic portraits: ‘I feel it is very important to know your subjects as individuals. Ideally this takes time – and often you don’t have time. You work under pressure… I dislike superficial and I especially dislike superficial relationships’. She became a favorite of the Russian leader, Nikita Khrushchev who, during one of his anti-Western speeches, once declared: ‘Don’t misunderstand me. There is an American girl standing in front of me. Americans are good people.’ The good American girl was Lisa Larsen.”(The Red List.com)

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