Click Here to SubscribeClick Here to Subscribe

Share |

Ballet Chalkware: 1950s Kitsch
Artifact of the Month, October 2013

Kitschy plasters is just one way that the world has depicted ballet. Learn more about DCD's ballet chalkware collection.

(Click the "Play" arrow below to listen to the podcast and scroll down to view more images. Mouse-over the images to access "Pause" and other controls)

Male and female chalkware set, manufacturer unknown.
Male and female chalkware set, manufacturer unknown.
  • Male and female chalkware set, manufacturer unknown.
  • This duplicate of the previous female figure demonstrates that, while mass produced, each item could be unique due to the handpainting.
  • Chalkware ballerina made by FavorWare in Winnipeg. Note that the knee of the extended leg faces front indicating a lack of turnout, and it is unlikely that a ballerina would jump with her hands cupping her tutu.
  • This harlequin ballerina shows more detail than most of the chalkware figures with the cross-hatched background, textured squares on the costume and striations to delineate hair.
  • Devonware manufacturing sticker from the back of a chalkware figure.
  • FavorWare manufacturing sticker from the back of a chalkware figure.
  • The manufacturer's stamp for C Favor Industries (makers of FavorWare) in Winnipeg.
  • A detail of this chalkware ballerina demonstrates the over-crossed retiré position common to many of the figures.
  • This brightly red-lipped ballerina shows a turned-in supporting leg and an arm position that would raise the ire of any ballet master or mistress as it should be extended in a gently curving line reaching above the head, not on it. The back of this figure has been stamped with the phrase “Genuine Rockalite, Made in Canada”.
  • DCD's chalkware collection includes several matching sets of male and female dancers. These figures have been stamped with “© 1965 Miller Studio Inc.”, which likely refers to the Miller Studio in New Philadelphia, Ohio, founded in 1934 by Harry and Clela Miller.
  • This figure's clenched fists are an unusal ballet position.
  • An anatomically odd figure with claw-like hands and a hyper-flexed wrist atypical of ballet technique.
  • This publicity shot of National Ballet of Canada charter members David Adams and Lois Smith illustrates a proper retiré position, the extended and gently curved arm desired in some ballet positions, and the delicately posed hand often used in ballet.
  • This highly elaboratre piece of chalkware demonstrates the ornate framing that was sometimes created.
  • This figure illustrates the garish decorations that appear in some pieces. Her contracted abdominals and curved upper back are also highly unusual movements in ballet, especially in the 1950s.
  • Male figure mounted on metal grid.
  • A female FavorWare harlequin mounted on a metal crescent. She is unusual  because of the black paint used for her skin.
  • This Devonware male harlequin is also mounted on metal and can actually slide horizontally to a different position on the mount.
  • Spray-painting chalkware was another method used to decorate the figures. This trio of ballerinas was made by Miller Studio in 1964.
  • Detail of a Miller Studio ballerina to illustrate the painting method.

Mailing List

As a Friend of DCD you will be among the first to receive special news related to all things DCD. Click Here to join our mailing list


DCD has a number of online Exhibits featuring some of Canadian dance's most important individuals. Click Here to see more

Dance Collection Home

Our Main web site offers a great deal of information for anyone interested in Canadian theatrical dance. Click Here to see more