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Topical Budget 525-2: Looks Very Jolly Doesn't It? (1921)


Main image of Topical Budget 525-2: Looks Very Jolly Doesn't It? (1921)
35mm, black and white, silent, 77 feet
Production CompanyTopical Film Company

With: Margaret Morris Dancers

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The Margaret Morris Dancers at Pourville in France.

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Margaret Morris (1891-1980) was one of the most important innovators in British dance in the 20th century. A stage performer from early childhood, she began to develop her own dances at the age of twelve, when she first expressed dissatisfaction with traditional classical ballet technique.

She was still in her teens when she met and was influenced by Raymond Duncan, brother of the dancer Isadora, who also sought to overturn dance conventions. In 1910, her staging of the 'Dance of the Furies' from Gluck's 'Orpheus' attracted rave reviews, and she used her sudden fame to start the Margaret Morris School of Dancing in London's St Martin's Lane. In 1912, aged just 21, she oversaw a Margaret Morris ballet season at the Royal Court Theatre.

She founded her famous Devon Summer School in 1917, and this 1921 Topical Budget item gives some idea of what was on the curriculum - a programme of intricately choreographed moves, often performed in the open air. Over the next few years, Morris became increasingly interested in the health aspects of dance, and would present her system to athletes, doctors and midwives as well as dancers. Her contribution was officially recognised when the Margaret Morris Movement was endorsed by the government's National Advisory Council for Physical Training and Recreation in 1937. Although her activities were scaled down by the war, and her main offices were closed in 1961 after the death of her husband, Margaret Morris's techniques are still taught to this day.

Michael Brooke

*This film can be downloaded in its entirety from the BFI's Creative Archive. Note that this material is not limited to users in registered UK libraries and educational establishments: it can be accessed by anyone within the UK under the terms of the Creative Archive Licence.

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Video Clips
Complete item (1:17)
Isadora (1966)