The Muybridge Waltzes: Clothed and Unclothed - 1887

This is my animation of three of Eadweard Muybridge's "Animal Locomotion" studies from 1887. He pioneered a technique of capturing movement using multiple high speed cameras. It was originally developed to settle a bet between millionaires, but he then went on to use it to capture the motion of humans and animals doing any number of things. Given how concealing and constraining Victorian clothing was, he frequently made use of nude models. In the case of the naked dancing couple, a plausible explanation is that Victorian sensibilities would be too shocked by a naked man and woman dancing together, so he opted for two naked women as being less scandalous.

These represent the earliest moving images of social dancing. Films are easy to find for students of 20th Century dance, but for those studying the social dance of the 19th Century, this is really all there is. They were, of course, originally multiple still images, but when you put them together, they become a motion picture.

The original studies consisted of consecutive shots of a people dancing a Waltz. In my animation, first I show them frame by frame and then speed it up to get a sense of motion. It includes three studies: a clothed man and woman, two nude women waltzing together and one nude woman waltzing alone.

If you can get past the "Oh, naked ladies" reaction, there's actually much to be learned from these videos.

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