A Photographer's Lightbox

“Light As Air and Quick As Lightning”

Letter from Abigail Adams to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch. Paris, 20 February, 1785

“The first dance which I saw upon the Stage shoked me, the Dress’es and Beauty of the performers was enchanting, but no sooner did the Dance commence, than I felt my delicacy wounded, and I was ashamed to bee seen to look at them. Girls cloathd in the thinest Silk: and Gauze, with their peticoats short Springing two foot from the floor poising themselves in the air, with their feet flying, and as perfectly shewing their Garters and draws, as tho no peticoat had been worn, was a sight altogether new to me.”

Their motions are as light as air and as quick as lightning. They balance themselves to astonishment. No description can equal the reality.”

“Shall I speak a Truth and say that repeatedly seeing these Dances has worn of that disgust which I first felt, and that I see them now with pleasure. … The art of dancing is carried to the highest degree of perfection that it is capable of; at the opera.”

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