Selsior Dancing Films, 1912–1917

Stephen Bottomore

in The Sounds of the Silents in Britain

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199797615
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979738 | DOI:
Selsior Dancing Films, 1912–1917

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In the years immediately preceding the First World War, an Austro-Hungarian émigré in London, Oszkár Rausch, developed a system for presenting dance films in sync with a live orchestra. The technique involved filming a group of dancers performing to music, and placing the conductor so as to appear in the corner of the frame. Then in the theatre a live orchestra would play the same music to the film and keep in time by watching the conductor’s image. Rausch made over a dozen short films with this system under the company name Selsior. The films were widely reviewed, and very popular with audiences throughout the United Kingdom, who seem to have enjoyed seeing both the dancers and the conductor in the corner. But Rausch got into financial trouble, was declared bankrupt, and during the First World War was interned as an enemy alien by the British authorities.

Keywords: oszkár Rausch; synchronization; film music; dance; tango; émigrés; First World War; internment; Ernest Belcher; choreography; Selsior; Fanny Fields

Chapter.  7253 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Popular Music

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