What is Legmania?

The Legmania craze took hold in the Victorian music halls of the 1870s. It embraced eccentric dancing, contortions, extending the leg impossibly above the head, step dancing and so much more. Moving between burlesque and comedy, Legmania captivated audiences as variety artistes developed their own speciality blend into their acts.

The image below and used elsewhere on this site is taken from a publicity postcard of James Eadie and Cissie Ramsden from around 1912. It tantalisingly shows off James’ balletic pointed toe in a clearly comic pose.

The Legmania tradition carried on into the early 20th century. This 1935 British Pathé clip of Jack Stanford is just one example of eccentric dance that continued to please audiences after the decline of the music halls.

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Where it began

When I started researching my family history over a decade ago I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the ancestor who listed pantomimist as occupation on his marriage certificate of 1883. James Jeremiah Beddoe was the oldest son of my great, great, grandfather James Whitaker Beddoe and his wife Emily Catherine (Knight). When I revisited the details some years ago it kicked off a journey chronicling the lives of one family and two generations who toured the world with their eccentric dance performances.