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Apachentanz by Leo Rauth (de) (1911).

Apache, or La Danse Apache, Bowery Waltz, Apache Turn, Apache Dance and Tough Dance is a highly dramatic dance associated in popular culture with Parisian street culture at the beginning of the 20th century. The name of the dance (pronounced ah-PAHSH, not uh-PATCH-ee, like the English pronunciation of the Native American tribe) is taken from the term for Parisian underworld of the time.

The dance is sometimes said to reenact a violent "discussion" between a pimp and a prostitute. It includes mock slaps and punches, the man picking up and throwing the woman to the ground, or lifting and carrying her while she struggles or feigns unconsciousness. Thus, the dance shares many features with the theatrical discipline of stage combat. In some examples, the woman may fight back.


In Fin de siècle Paris young members of street gangs were labelled Apaches by the press because of the ferocity of their savagery towards one another, a name taken from the native North American indigenous people, the Apache. In 1908, dancers Maurice Mouvet and Max Dearly began to visit the low bars frequented by Apaches in a search for inspiration for new dances. They formulated the new dance from moves seen there and gave to it the name Apache. Max Dearly first performed it in 1908 in Paris at the Ambassadeurs and Maurice in Ostend at the Kursaal. A short while later, in the summer of 1908, Maurice and his partner Leona performed the dance at Maxim’s and Max Dearly made an even bigger impact with it, partnered with Mistinguett, in the Moulin Rouge show, La Revue du Moulin. [1]


A 1902 Edison movie of two Bowery dancers, Kid Foley and Sailor Lil doing a Tough dance which is similar in style, survives.

The "Valse des rayons" (also called the "Valse chaloupée") from Jacques Offenbach's ballet "Le Papillon" was used in a 1908 production at the Moulin Rouge and has become the music most associated with the dance.[citation needed]

In The Mothering Heart, a 1913 short drama film directed by D. W. Griffith, an Apache dance is shown in a restaurant cabaret.

The famous French 10-part 7-hour silent film Les Vampires (1915, re-released on DVD in 2005) about an Apache gang "Vampires" contains a number of Apache dance scenes performed by real street Apache dancers, rather than actors. A notable detail is that during part of the waltz the man holds firmly onto the woman's hair, rather than her body.

Parisian Love (1925) shows Clara Bow as an Apache dancer, with the dance itself being the first scene in the film.

Ivor Novello performs an Apache dance in the British silent film The Rat (1925).

The landmark 1932 Hollywood film musical Love Me Tonight features the song "Poor Apache."

In Charlie Chaplin's City Lights (1931) the Tramp sees an Apache dance in a nightclub and, thinking it is real, interrupts it.

Olive Oyl, Bluto and Popeye do the Apache in Popeye The Sailor 017 - The Dance Contest (1934).

Also in 1934 the Adagio Dancers, artists Alexis and Dorrano, perform the 'Danse Apache' in a British Pathe short set in a seedy French bar and watched by some "toffs".

In the 1935 movie Charlie Chan in Paris, Charlie Chan's agent (played by Dorothy Appleby) is murdered following her performance of an Apache dance.[citation needed]

In the British film Okay For Sound (1937) The Crazy Gang witness an Apache dance performed by the dancers Lucienne and Ashour in which the female dancer triumphs.

In You're in the Army Now (1941) a comic Apache dance, done to Offenbach's "Valse dey rayons," is performed with Jimmy Durante playing the woman.[citation needed]

In The Gang's All Here (1943) Charlotte Greenwood does a short, comic version of an Apache dance.[citation needed]

In Pin Up Girl (1944), Betty Grable, Hermes Pan and Angela Blue perform a musical number dressed as Apache dancers.[citation needed]

In "Lake Placid Serenade" (1944) Everett McGowan & Ruth Mack - performed the Apache dance on Ice skates named "Cafe de Apache" produced by Republic Films

In 1944, the opening scene of Die Frau Meiner Träume (The Woman of My Dreams), one of the last major Agfacolor musicals produced in Nazi Germany, features the actress-dancer Marika Rökk in an acrobatic Apache dance with two men. The film was extremely popular not only in Germany, but made it to the Soviet film distribution after the war, enjoying similar popularity. The big production finale was taken into the curriculum of the Soviet Film Institute and served as an example of a well crafted musical staging.

In the 1947 film Crime Doctor's Gamble, Dr. Robert Ordway (played by Warner Baxter) visits a seedy Parisian cabaret with an Apache dance sequence.[citation needed] The dance ends with the male dancer Don Graham twirling the female dancer Dolores Graham around by her hair.

An episode of I Love Lucy, "The Adagio" (1951, season one, episode eleven), revolved around Lucy wanting to learn an Apache dance.[citation needed] In another episode, The French Revue Fred and Ethel perform an Apache dance in the hopes of starring in an act at the club with a French singer.[citation needed]

Apache Dancers Don & Dolores Graham performed the apache dance in Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954).

An example of an Apache dance number is also seen in Twentieth Century Fox's film "Can Can" (1960) starring Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine and Maurice Chevalier.[2][3] The number is performed by Shirley MacLaine along with five male dancers as they toss and thrash her about. In this version she fights back and eventually "kills" all five dancers with a knife.

An Apache dance also figures in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968). When Andrew Lloyd Webber set out to create a more than usually fascinating musical mix and included a wide variety of musical genres in this show, he added a very French number. When Joseph's brothers are explaining their impoverished state, after selling Joseph into slavery and experiencing the seven lean years, they sing about "Those Canaan Days" reminiscing of better days. Included within that number is an Apache Dance, a brief joyous celebration of what once was and a poignant expression of their regret for their actions.[citation needed]

In the movie Moulin Rouge! (2001), "El Tango de Roxane" is performed as a tango with Apache elements.[citation needed]

In the Apocalyptica video I Don't Care (2007), Apache dance is featured in a scene between Adam Gontier and a woman.[citation needed]

In the Pink video Try (2013), the singer and male dancer Colt Prattes can be seen performing an interpretation of the Apache dance[4] choreography by The golden Boyz - R J Durrell and Nick Florez - and aerial choreographer Sebastien Stella.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Apache, Gary Chapman, Jazz Age club, 2010
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053690/usercomments
  3. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Can-Can-Frank-Sinatra/dp/B000ND91YU
  4. ^ Donnelly, Matthew. "Meet Colt Prattes". LA Times. Retrieved Nov 2012. 
  5. ^ "Pink Premieres New Video F!or Try". Retrieved Nov 2012. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_(dance) — Please support Wikipedia.
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128 news items

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:28:18 -0800

Playing May and Eddie, a couple locked in an eternal apache dance, Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell exude the sort of chemistry of which nuclear meltdowns are made (1:15). Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street, 212-239-6200, ...

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 12 Nov 2015 15:02:34 -0800

Playing May and Eddie, a couple locked in an eternal apache dance, Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell exude the sort of chemistry of which nuclear meltdowns are made (1:15). Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street, 212-239-6200, ...

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 05 Nov 2015 15:21:05 -0800

Playing May and Eddie, a couple locked in an eternal apache dance, Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell exude the sort of chemistry of which nuclear meltdowns are made (1:15). Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street, 212-239-6200, ...


Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:15:00 -0800

It's not unusual for Alfonso Ribeiro to reference his Fresh Prince past on Dancing With the Stars Season 19. He did The Carlton dance earlier in the season, and in last night's Finals, he revisited several early career dance moments for the Freestyle ...


Thu, 10 Sep 2015 12:33:42 -0700

One of the greatest TV shows of the '90s, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, debuted on this day 25 years ago. It's really hard to let it sink in that Will Smith is now older than Uncle Phil (portrayed by James Avery) was when the show premiered. That's a ...

CNN (blog)

CNN (blog)
Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:02:33 -0700

Sixteen years after the conclusion of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and the 40-year-old actor can do the "Carlton" dance, named after his Carlton Banks character on the show, like it's still 1992. In Los Angeles over the weekend, Ribeiro led what he ...

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 19:00:20 -0700

Here, Mr. Shepard's apache dance of a drama comes across not only as exciting theater but also as world-class literature, the kind that balances in-the-moment detail with an echoing sense of eternity. The couple we see fighting and loving onstage (and ...

Washington Post

Washington Post
Wed, 19 Aug 2015 05:56:15 -0700

Over time, Will realizes that Carlton's love of Tom Jones and Bryant Gumbel can coexist with Carlton's ability to do the Apache dance and his desire to pledge to a black fraternity. Those themes were handled as deftly and subtly as a multi-camera ...

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