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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Denmark's Finest: 1923

Denmark's Finest: 1923

October 4, 1923. Washington, D.C. Danish athletes at the Pension Office Building. View full size | Rear view. 5x7 glass negative, National Photo Company.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Rhythmic Danes

Washington Post Oct 5, 1923

'Not so Good,' Danish Expert Says of Yankee Girls' Form

Sir Neils Bukh has seen the physiques of American men and American women and found them wanting.

Everything American men and women do, according to Sir Neils, seems to be wrong. They don't eat correctly, sleep correctly, walk correctly or dress correctly.

And so today he will present to Washington, fourteen men and fourteen women, all of them perfect examples, he says, of Danish manhood and womanhood, in support of his theories of physical culture.
The Bukh troupe has been brought to American by the Russell Sage Foundation, the Recreation Association of America, the Country Life association and the Scandinavian-American Foundation. It receives no salary for its work, and is making demonstrations before schools and colleges in the interest of physical education.

Washington Post Oct 5, 1923

Rhythmic Danes Show City Just What 'Grace' Means

With a rhythm bordering perfection, the much heralded near-Venuses and near-Apollos imported from Denmark to portray the success of Sir Neils Bukh's system of physical culture, gave exhibitions of dancing and graceul calisthenics that evoked enthusiasm and appreciation from two Washington audiences yesterday.

Although the members of the Bukh troupe had flung defiant criticism of the American physique since their arrival in this country, so great was their success at the exhibitions at the court of the Pension office and on the Ellipse that it brought from Commissioner of Education Tigert the comment that "beside the demonstration, physical training in America schools seems foolish."

Approximately 2,000 persons gathered around and in the galleries above the Pension office court in the morning as Sir Neils gave his first command in Danish that brought 13 of his girl students from behind a screen. As he continued to give his commands the girls executed, in amazing unison, a succession of rhythmic calisthenics.

Several times they chanted a tune as they moved from pure calisthenics into graceful dance steps. Spontaneous applause greeted the completion of the movements.

Following the performance of the girls, the fourteen near-Apollos spring into action and for 20 minutes went through a vigorous demonstration of graceful strength and gymnastic ability.

The exhibition was repeated in the afternoon on the Ellipse, where a much larger audience cheered the troupe. At noon with Sir Neils, members of the troupe were presented to President Coolidge.

Following the successes of his students, Sir Neils again emphasized his pride in them. "Perhaps not such beautiful and handsome faces as those of your Americans," he said, "but ah, the grace and strength of their bodies."

I'm getting a crick in my neck.....

....I said CRICK!


This is a demonstration of the then famous, though rather unpleasant, "Danish Neck Massage." Ordinarily performed sans clothing. Demonstrated here more modestly for American spectators.

Great Danes

I'm thinking they must be really strong. Those guys on the top are not exactly lithe.

Oh dear

Panty lines.


This may be the strangest Shorpy photo yet.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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