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This is the passionate fight between a man and a woman. A daring dance duo with a rich history.
In our version of this once popular, now risque, dance act we combine passion, swing dance and dynamic acrobatics skills laced with the French Apache dance style. Creating a passionate acrobatic fight where the man takes control of the woman, yet she comes back with great strength and skill.

The French term Apache came about at the turn of the century and used to describe a dubious character who was part of a Parisian street gang. They were in fact young Paris hooligans but with a more savage and vicious tendency. Prior to 1898 they were known simply as as ‘Vauriens’ or ‘no goods’ but in 1898 a gruesome murder was committed in the Faubourg du Temple that changed everything. A reporter who turned up to cover the case who was obsessed by native American Indian stories penned a headline ‘Crime Committed by the Apaches of Belleville’. The term struck a cord and was quickly adopted.

Maurice Mouvet was dancing in the Cafe de Paris one night and was persuaded to accompany his friend, the dancer Max Dearly, into the Paris underworld. They made their way to an Apache den described as an evil smelling cellar and they saw some Apaches in action and dancing. They made several trips to other low cabaret haunts for dance inspiration and evolved the concept of the dance Apache. Eventually, it was unveiled to an eager Parisian audience in the summer of 1908 in the Moulin Rouge show La Revue du Moulin.

In essence the Apache dance evolved by Dearly and Mouvet illustrated a domestic fight between two lovers. It was wild, swinging, swaying and brutal. It entailed a French underworld character (the Apache, usually a pimp) asking his woman (usually regarded as a prostitute) for money. When she refuses there are mock slaps and punches, the man picks her up and throws her to the ground, or lifts and carries her while she struggles or feigns unconsciousness. Sometimes, the woman fought back.
The dance took little time to be replicated. In September 1908 it was seemingly performed for the first time in America by Alice Eis and Bert French in the Broadway show The Mimic World. By August 1909 the Apache was even performed in Australia by Bert Gilbert and Miss Lottie Sargent in a new musical comedy King of Cadonia at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney.
There was a flurry of other dancing duos performing the dance but when Maurice and his new partner Madelaine D’Harville arrived in New York in late October 1911 his rendition of the Apache at Louis Martin’s Cafe de L’Opera eclipsed all others and became a huge success.
The Apache continued to be popular throughout the 1920s and continued to be performed as an act right up until the early 1950's. After this time however, given the nature of the dance, it seemed to become unpopular. And there is little record of it being practiced or performed until more recently.
However it's influence has been carried on through other dance forms ,as it is said to have had a big influence on other genre's such as the tango, swing dance and other break away's such as lindy hop and jitterbug.
One of our main influences for our version of the dance comes from a routine performed by Lucienne and Ashour, who performed their act from 1931 to 1954. In their version it is the man who ends up being thrown around like a rag doll.

Max Dearly and Mistinguett performing The Apache 1908


Maurice Mouvet and Florence Walton 1915