The Beijing Olympics are well and truly underway now but for most of us ‘creative’ and ‘arty’ types we would rather be out performing, doing class etc rather than lazing on the lounge with a tub of ice cream watching sport into the early hours of the morning. Well, I have some interesting facts for you about an Olympic sport that includes us, ‘Water Ballet’.
Water ballet officially began with Annette Kellerman, who was born July 6, 1886 in Marrickville, Sydney, Australia. As a child, Kellerman suffered from rickets, a disease that softens and weakens a person’s bones. To combat this disease and strengthen her legs, Kellerman spent her entire childhood swimming. This experience thrust her into a life of aquatic competition and performance.
At the London Hippodrome in 1905, Kellerman combined her love of theater with her love for swimming, and she performed swimming, diving, and underwater dancing in a giant glass tank.
Kellerman’s career took off after she performed in America in 1906. She even replaced Anna Pavlova in The Big Show of 1916 at The Hippodrome, the largest theatre in New York City at the time.
After Kellerman’s influence, Kay Curtis founded a water ballet club at the University of Chicago in 1923. And, in 1934 Curtis introduced synchronized swimming at the Chicago World’s Fair. Afterward, schools in the Chicago area started forming synchronized swimming teams.
After World War II, synchronized swimming, or simply “synchro” as it’s often called today, spread throughout the world. Olympic athletes first won medals in synchro at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, the same year that rhythmic gymnastics made its official Olympic debut.
Watch Annette do Water Ballet in the above video.
Source: Dance Here