we have detectives in the classes

dancing school

In 1925 Ned Wayburn wrote The Art of Stage Dancing, a book about his dancing classes and what he expected of his pupils

It is a well established rule of the studio that pupils shall weigh themselves every Monday and keep a record of their weight from week to week. For this purpose use the scales in the main office of the studio, please. They are accurate. You are expected to come into my private office and talk with me once a week, and when you do so I shall ask you about your weight, and you must be prepared to tell me. I know just how much you ought to weigh, and am interested in hearing whether you are gaining or losing flesh in the proportion that you should. I am able to tell who is faithfully following my instructions as to diet and the other simple and necessary requirements of our courses. You cannot disguise the real facts from me. It is my business to manufacture symmetrical bodies.

ann constance before ann constance after

before and after photos from Ned’s book

Don’t bring or wear valuable jewelry to the studios. All of our employees are trustworthy, and we investigate the pupils who come into our studios. We know all about them. If the wrong kind of person does get in, he or she doesn’t stay more than an hour or two. We also have detectives in the classes.


Now there is one little thing I am going to talk to you about that really is a bigger thing than it seems—and that is gum—chewing gum. If you had had stage experience you would know that gum is taboo in the theatre, and the reason for this is not only that to chew in sight of an audience would be an insult and result in immediate dismissal, but also for this very important reason, that a cud of gum if dropped on the stage would destroy that stage for dancing—your own dancing and everybody else’s. We have here the finest of clear-maple dancing floors in every one of our studios. Drop a piece of gum on this floor and then try your dance and see what would happen to you

ned wayburn

I do not charge anything for counselling, you may come to my office at any time. If I am busy with some important matter I may ask you to wait awhile, I’m a pretty busy man.

While waiting, weigh yourself and tell me about your weight.


image by Helmut Newton

Published in: on October 26, 2009 at 6:54 am  Comments (28)  
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28 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hhmmm, bet he didn’t keep those last two waiting outside his office for long !!!

    • I don’t think anyone would keep them waiting too long, do you?

  2. do we know what form this ‘counselling’ took ? 😉

  3. I was going to ask the same question as duncanr…

    • It probably involved weighing things by hand 😉

  4. Ned is a big fussy bitch. He goes home and has his mother spank him. i’ve seen that type before…

  5. Ned was The Man. All I’ve ever wanted was to be in a position of great power so I could crush little people and force them to do my bidding. Is that too much to ask for?

    I like Helmut Newton’s work a lot. Next up for me is the big Robert Frank exhibit at the Met. I think you should fly out here and join me for it. If only it were that simple!

    • If only it were

  6. This is absolutely priceless, I loved it and would love to find copy of this book.

    The sparkling shit post made me laugh a lot too.

    You are such good value darling!

    • Hey Lulu, they’ve got it on amazon for just over $2.00

  7. clear maple. I want to see that.

  8. The Helmut Newton site is great, thanks again for another stimulating post!

  9. I wouldn’t mind coming in your office.

    • Come any time jimmy

  10. If he gets those kinds of results, I’m in.

    Book Review #4 – Drood

  11. I weighed myself this morning after a weekend of excess and I still am at 164.

    Oh wait. Didn’t you really want to know this? What I liked about this guy’s verbiage was his insistence that everybody in his employ is law abiding but you shouldn’t bring valuables to class.

  12. He reminds me a lot of a high school gym teacher that I had. The guy’s paranoia about his hardwood floor turned him into a gum Nazi/psychopath. After he found a piece lying beside the trash bin one day, he made us all open up and say ahh before class, for the rest of the year. I don’t think he used undercover detectives though.

  13. The sign in Ned Wayburn’s foyer should read:

    ‘Weighting Room’

  14. My favorite is the horizontal dance.

  15. I’m not crazy about gum, but I would sure like to bite that woman on the left in the last picture, right on the ass.

    • ok I’ll take the one on the right

  16. that last image–s-e-x-y..

  17. That last image’s a picture we should try recreating sometime with the good nurse, Daisyfae, and of course me, because I own a sharp suit like that.

  18. today? Ned would be a headliner on the WE Channel or some such…

    @renalfailure – i, too, own such a suit. and am guessing you’ll want your photographer to look as classy. count me in as a ready volunteer.

  19. Always something to expand my horizons here. 🙂

  20. I like pictures with my blog, they make me think

  21. Helmut does great work. Ned’s an ass though…and I should know, cause I make it my business to know.

  22. The cover babe looks like Susan Hayward.

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