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Fatima's Coochee-Coochee Dance (1896)

Not Rated | | Short | 3 May 1896 (USA)
This is the lady whose graceful interpretations of the poetry of motion has made this dance so popular of recent years. - From 'The Phonoscope' (1899)


James H. White




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Credited cast:
Fatima Fatima ... Herself


The dancer Fatima, well-known for her dancing shows at the World's Exhibition in 1893, performs for the camera. She opens her act by twirling around a few times, and then she does the 'muscle dance' for which she had attracted considerable notoriety. Written by Snow Leopard

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Not Rated




Release Date:

3 May 1896 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fatima, Muscle Dancer See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?


In 1907, by order of a Chicago censorship committee, a stain (allegedly looking like New England) was printed on the film to cover Fatima's body. See more »


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

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User Reviews

A Historical Curio As An Example of Censorship
8 November 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

Once a source of some controversy, this Edison Company feature is now a historical curio that is of note primarily as one of the earliest examples of censorship in motion pictures. The earliest years of cinema saw a fair number of provocative films, many of them by the Edison Company, and it seems just a little odd now that this one was singled out. It seems likely that the attention paid to it may have been greater because of the notoriety that its star performer had already attracted.

The dancer Fatima, then widely-known, performs her routine, variously known as a muscle dance or by any of several other names. She is certainly lively, but it hardly seems particularly sensual, at least now. You have to wonder whether, as in so many cases, the controversy around her simply fed on itself instead of on anything genuinely scandalous.

There were at least a couple of methods that appear to have been used to cover up the portions of Fatima's act that were deemed to have needed it. Kino's DVD collection of Edison movies shows the original, unaltered version and one of the censored versions, which uses a grid-like pattern of white lines to cover certain areas. Truthfully, it is rather amusing that they bothered, and likewise that they would still go ahead and show the resulting print, which has a decidedly odd look to it.

In the earliest years of publicly shown movies, films of dancers became for a time one of the most popular genres, and there were many movies similar to this, varying widely both as to their entertainment value and as to how risqué they were. This is neither one of the best nor one of the most enjoyable nor one of the most provocative, but it's the one that was widely censored. With that in mind, it can be rather an interesting study to compare the various features of the genre for yourself.

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