5 user

Princess Ali (1895)

Not Rated | | Short | 9 May 1895 (USA)
Princess Ali, of Barnum and Bailey's circus, performs an Egyptian dance in the Edison Company's studio. As she dances, some musicians perform in the background to provide accompaniment.


William Heise


Princess Ali


Learn more

More Like This 

Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A man opens the big gates to the Lumière factory. Through the gateway and a smaller doorway beside it, workers are streaming out, turning either left or right. Most of them are women in ... See full summary »

Director: Louis Lumière
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Annabelle (Whitford) Moore performs one of her popular dance routines. She uses her dance steps and her long, flowing skirts to create a variety of visual patterns.

Directors: William K.L. Dickson, William Heise
Stars: Annabelle Moore
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A very brief film of a man playing the accordion.

Director: Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince
Stars: Adolphe Le Prince
Short | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  

A gymnast assumes a number of positions while holding a wand in both hands.

Director: William K.L. Dickson
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  

A crowd watches the Newark Fire Department respond to a call.

Director: James H. White
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Luis Martinetti, a contortionist suspended from acrobatic flying rings, contorts himself for about thirty seconds. This is one of the first films made for Edison's kinetoscopes.

Director: William K.L. Dickson
Stars: Luis Martinetti
Band Drill (1894)
Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

A scene from Charles Hoyt's 'A Milk White Flag': A brass band marches out, led by bandmaster Steele Ayers. When Ayers reaches his position, he turns around and directs the musicians as they take up their own positions.

Directors: William K.L. Dickson, William Heise
Stars: Fred W. Boardman, William Cushing, Ad Dorsch
Carmencita (1894)
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Performing on what looks like a small wooden stage, wearing a dress with a hoop skirt and white high-heeled pumps, Carmencita does a dance with kicks and twirls, a smile always on her face.

Director: William K.L. Dickson
Stars: Carmencita
Documentary | Short | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

In the background, five fans lean on the ropes looking into the ring. The referee is to the left; like the fans, he hardly moves as two fighters swing roundhouse blows at each other. Mike ... See full summary »

Director: William K.L. Dickson
Stars: Jack Cushing, Mike Leonard
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  

"A battalion of New York's famous mounted police at inspection. They approach at break-neck gallop." - from the Edison Catalog

Director: James H. White
Stars: Sergeant Eagan
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

"Train is first seen rounding a curve nearly a mile away. Approaches at the rate of 70 miles an hour, blowing a warning whistle to a gang of track repairers."

Director: James H. White
Stars: Benjamin F. Hardesty, Charles Lee
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

"A burning wagon is dragged from the barn by the firemen, and four horses are rescued from the flames by the stablemen. Thick volumes of smoke pour from the doors and windows." - from the Edison Catalog

Director: James H. White


Credited cast:
Princess Ali Princess Ali


In the background, three accompanists stand, one beating a tambourine, another playing a flute, and the third (only partially visible) clapping. In the foreground, Princess Ali, dressed in North African clothes and waving a scarf in each hand, dances; after a slow turn, she lays the scarves on her shoulders, faces the camera, and undulates. Then, rhythmically, she turns again. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated




Release Date:

9 May 1895 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Egyptian Dance See more »

Filming Locations:

Orange, New Jersey, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Princess Ali was featured in Barnum and Bailey's Circus. See more »


Featured in Edison: The Invention of the Movies (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A typical example of Kinetoscope cinema

During the last decade of the 19th Century, the Edison Manufacturing Company revolutionized entertainment with the introduction of the Kinetoscope in 1894. A creation of Scottish inventor William K.L. Dickson, the Kinetoscope was the very first device able to exhibit motion pictures in the world, showing the short films through a peephole viewer on the top of its design. Soon after the opening of the first Kinetoscope parlor, the new invention became enormously popular, as nearly everyone was fascinated by the idea of a machine able to reproduce images captured previously. Those very first short films were very different than what now know as movies, as most of the times the short films depicted entertainment acts such as popular vaudeville performers, and sometimes sport events. Just like the members of the "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" show did before, several members of Barnum and Bailey's circus would also become stars of the early cinema.

In 1881, two of the greatest circus of the U.S. were combined by their founders and so the legendary "Barnum & Bailey Circus" was born. It became the most successful circus in America and Princess Ali, professional dancer, was one of its members, and like many other performers, Princess Ali stepped in front of William Heise's camera and did her show for the Kinetoscope. Her performance consisted of a "danse Du Ventre", an oriental belly dance accompanied by several of her musicians who perform the traditional Raks Sharki music. As can easily be imagined, the performance loses an enormous amount of its power without the chance to listen to the music along with Princess' dance, but there is no doubt that this wasn't an obstacle to make her sensual and exotic dance a very popular attraction among the male audiences of its time.

While certainly nothing outstanding without sound, the dance of Pincess Ali captured by the Kinetoscope's camera is still a piece of enormous historical value, as it is the only surviving film of the ones made with the "Barnum & Bailey Circus" in that year. As written above, due to the implicit eroticism of exotic dancers like Pincess Ali, this movie became widely popular and so many more movies similar to this one began to be done. The trend culminated with the 1896 film "Fatima's Coochee-Coochee Dance", where dancer Fatima executed a belly dance considered too erotic to be shown and therefore her pelvis was censored by a Chicago censorship committee. By 1895, Kinetoscope parlors were enjoying an enormous popularity thanks to films like this. Sadly for Edison and company, on that very same year two French brothers were beginning to make films in a very different kind of devise. A devise that would change the world and sent Kinetoscope to oblivion. 5/10

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 5 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed