Vaudeville and The Ziegfield Follies
Vaudeville is a genre of theatrical event that features a variety of unrelated acts during one performance. Popular in the United States of America from the 1880s to the 1930s, performances usually included a selection of classical musicians, dancers, circus acts: clowns, jugglers, magicians, trained animals, as well as athletes, short plays or scenes, impersonators and even movies. Performers travelled around on what was known as the Vaudeville circuit, touring to different cities. These shows were immensely popular during their time.
The Ziegfield Follies were a theatrical event produced by Florenz Ziegfield between 1908 and 1931. Follies are extravagant revues (think Vaudeville but with much more spectacle and production values) and can be describe as a median between Vaudeville and the Broadway shows that began to appear in the late 1920s and onwards. Unlike musicals, follies were not driven by narrative but a collection of acts. The most famous of these was the Ziegfield Girls. A troupe of beautiful female dancers chosen especially to perform spectacular dance numbers in elaborate costumes.
The below is a scene from Ziegfield Girls – a film made 14 years after the death of Florenz Ziegfield – and reflects the type of act that would be seen in a Follies show.