By Mark McConville
STUNNING retro pictures have offered a glimpse behind the scenes of the Bluebell Girls, a famous dance troupe started by an Irish dancer.
The incredible images show Miss Bluebell herself, Margaret Kelly, waiting with other Bluebell Girls before their performance at Le Lido, Paris, France in 1951, three cheeky Bluebell Girls relaxing backstage and Joyce Rogers giving Denise Carpenter a little assistance with the zip on her costume.
Other striking shots show a Bluebell Girl being followed by a French showgirl on their way back to the dressing rooms after one of the scenes, a French hairdresser attending to the hair of Margaret Oxon and Bluebell Girls rehearsing in Brussels.
Margaret Kelly Leibovici, known as Miss Bluebell, was an Irish dancer who was the founder of the Bluebell Girls dance troupe.
Beginning in 1930, Kelly danced in Paris for the Folies Bergère. In 1932, when she was 22, she created her own troupe there called the Bluebell Girls.
After the war, Margaret began a fruitful collaboration with Donn Arden, the American choreographer and producer, to produce shows at the Paris Lido. While beginning with a modest contract in 1947, the Bluebell Girls quickly became the sole stars of the Lido shows and gained notoriety locally and nationally.
Their shows were different from the others; Bluebell had an inventory of the tallest and most beautiful dancers who, with their costumes and high heels, towered over everybody on stage.
Donn Arden’s shows differentiated themselves from the others by the mixture of movement, colour, music and light in a kaleidoscope of impetuous rhythm. By the end of the 1950s, the Bluebell Girls had become an internationally recognised organisation. Their base in Paris was supplemented by what had become permanent troupes in Las Vegas, other nations in Europe, Africa, as well as eastern Asia.