People are still talking about the grand opening of the new pool murals at the Bellevue Club featuring a “water ballet” by the famous DecoBelles! The Art Deco Society had just moved their offices to the site, and co-hosted the open house with members of the club to celebrate the new mural, “Birds of Lake Merritt,” by Cleo Villet of OMCA fame, the third to grace the pool walls since 1929.
Designing a show that would be viewed from across a pool and from the mezzanine above meant confining the action to a limited viewing space, and a “stage” only two feet wide. First a “bird” flew across the scene, then nine dancers entered to perform some graceful poses on the narrow ledge. Four moved to the side of the pool, and three swimmers appeared in the water, trying not to steal the entire show.
For the big finish, dancers put down their gold beachballs and burlesque “it” girl Katrina Kroetch passed out sixteen copper life preservers to create a move I dubbed “the donut machine.” Miss Art Deco, Katherine Brooks, took center stage and, as the other swimmers splashed, a mermaid (Leah Vass) dressed by Dark Garden looked on.
The music was “By a Waterfall,” an homage to the awesome Busby Berkeley water sequence in the movie “Footlight Parade.”
This was the song that Laurie Gordon chose to begin the tradition of the DecoBelles, back in 1990 under the watchful eye of Esther Williams herself. You can read about it in
my serialized prescriptive book, Dance Like a DecoBelle!