Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
 

Footage of Carmencita, the Spanish dancer & the first woman to appear in a film (1894)

Ian Smith

Carmencita is an 1894 American short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by William K.L. Dickson, the Scottish inventor credited with the invention of the motion picture camera under the employ of Thomas Edison. The film is titled after the dancer who features in it.

This video is one of a series of Edison short films featuring circus and vaudeville acts. It features a dancer going through a routine she had been performing at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in New York City since February 1890. According to film historian Charles Musser, Carmencita was the first woman to appear in front of an Edison motion picture camera and may have been the first woman to appear in a motion picture within the United States. In the film she is recorded going through a routine she had been performing at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in New York City since February 1890.

The film was produced by the Edison Manufacturing Company which had begun making films in 1890 under the direction of one of the earliest pioneers to film, William K.L. Dickson. It was filmed entirely within the Black Maria studio at West Orange, New Jersey, in the United States, which is widely referred to as “America’s First Movie Studio.” Filming on this work took place between March 10, 1894 and March 16, 1894.

Carmencita, the Spanish dancer inspired rhapsodic poetry and prose. Today, she is noted for having had her portrait painted by such notable artists as John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase and James Carroll Beckwith as well as her role in an eponymous short film, one of many early instances of filmed theater.

According to film historian Charles Musser, Carmencita was the first woman to appear in a modern motion picture made for commercial purposes and may have been the first woman to appear in a motion picture within the United States.In the film she is recorded going through a routine she had been performing at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in New York City since February 189.She debuted in New York on August 17, 1889, dancing in the ballet of “Antiope.”Her association with Kiralfy ended in early 1890, and she rose to fame under the management of John Koster and Albert Bial, who put her in their 23rd Street Concert Hall commencing 10 February 1890. Over the next several years Carmencita performed in major cities across the country. She appeared in Koster & Bial’s new Music Hall in November and early December 1894 before selling her possessions and returning to Europe.She performed at the Palace Theatre, London in February 1895  and then periodically at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Paris