1, 2 Step Into My World!

We would like you to meet our newest employee, Joana! This blog post features a selection of her top ten favourite dance themed posters in the gallery, enjoy!

Most people who manage to see past my shy/awkward facade, rapidly notice two things about me: 1) I am passionate about Black Canadian art/history and 2) I LOVE to dance. I am one of those people dancing in the aisles at the grocery store or grooving to my music on the metro. If I can do while I dance then you will see me 1, 2 step! It only seems fitting then that I find myself in a space such as L’affichiste where I can indulge both of these loves as I discover its extensive collection (upwards of 3000 posters!). So far, as I prepare to take to the social media stage of the gallery to share nuggets of information about the wonders hidden in our drawers with future visitors, I have found some pretty amazing gems. From beautiful performers such as the infamous Josephine Baker to dynamic Broadway posters or more contemporary dance show advertisements I’ve got my fill!

Joana Dance 1

1930s Original Italian Music Sheet, La Signorina Soldato (left); 1999 Original French Festival Poster, Fetes De Bayonne – Saez (center); 1964 Original Spanish Travel Poster, Feria de Sevilla – Delardo (right).

There’s no feeling like throwing your arms up in the air and moving your body to the sounds of your favourite song. These three poster to me showcase the epitome of happiness. Smile stretched across her face, La Signorina Soldato (The Soldier Girl) celebrates life with such gusto that I can almost hear her tambourine’s echo.The vibrant colours used by Saez in his Festival de Bayonne posters are enhanced by sharp contours reminiscent of Art Deco styles. Similarly, Delardo contours the sinuous body of a vibrant Flamenco dancer swaying against the deep blue sky in the backdrop as she dances the night away.

Original 1928 Hungarian Music Sheet, Gianada Gyongye, Josephine Baker, (left); Original 1930 French Music Sheet, J’ai Deux Amours, Josephine Baker (right).

And then there is the amazing Josephine Baker… I mean, need I say more? Known for her quirky yet sensual performances as well as for bringing her pet cheetah Chiquita on stage with her, Josephine was also the very first Black woman to star in a motion picture and a known contributor to the Civil Rights Movement. These music booklet covers beautifully capture her flirty and coy persona. The use of curls and spots in this ephemera emphasizes the true pizazz of the fabulous performer.

Original 1970s Broadway Musical Poster, Bubbling Brown Sugar (left); 1980s Vintage French Poster, Moulin Rouge Frenesie – Gruau (right).

Thinking of the music and entertainment scene closer to home I can’t help but recall the Rockhead’s Paradise in Little Burgundy right here in Montreal on the corner of St-Antoine and de la Montagne. During prohibition, Little Burgundy was known as THE place to be. Its booming jazz scene attracted crowds from far and wide. Little Burgundy is also the home of well known musicians including from Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones. If you knew what was what, Rockhead’s was “un immanquable”! When I look at these two posters the sharp contrasts and dynamic lines remind me of the dynamism and buzz of jazz. The sinuous lines shaping these dancers’ legs and costumes as well as the bounce evident in their pearls and feathers surely puts a little pep in my step!

Joana Dance 4

1926 Original German Art Deco Poster, Kitty Starling the London Darling – Hohlwein (left); 1992 Original Poster, Les ballets Jazz de Montreal, 20th anniversary (center); 1988 Quebec Contemporary Poster, Cleba (right).

For me, music and dance go hand in hand. In fact, I often say that the Haitian Kompa baseline is the rhythm to which my heart beats. Bodies in movement fascinate and enthrall me. Whether it be Kitty Starling’s ruffles fluttering about or contemporary dancers melting into one another in lyrical compositions, I am transfixed by the human body in motion time and time again as I explore the contents of this gallery’s collection. As I sift through piles of posters and discover their stories, I imagine traditional drums and bluesy saxophones in the distance accompanying my every move. On that note (see what I did there?), I leave you to the sounds of Montreal’s very own Kalmunity Jazz Project.

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