(Video link here. We recommend watching with the sound off.) This 1924 Pathe video rolls a number of ‘the improvised life’s favorite themes into a compelling minute and a half. Tightroping over a city, she’s defying norms, practiced like crazy to master her form, conquered any fears she had and take’s huge risks to dance joyfully in the air.

(Since she’s dressed in a hat and furs, we’re wondering if it was winter when she did her amazing feat.)

via Manhattan User’s Guide

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3 replies on “1924 tightrope walker: mastery + risk to dance in the air

  1. This is a video of the incomparable Bird Millman, the greatest female high wire walker of all time. She was a premiere attraction of the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. With her signature parasol for balance, and her swishy dresses, she frequently traipsed high above the City of New York. Here she’s at City Hall Park, along Broadway in lower Manhattan. The date is 1931, not 1924, judging from the Rogers Peet sign on the building opposite.

  2. Bird retired after her marriage in spring 1924 and reports of this event appeared Feb 10, 1924 in the New York Times standalone photo spread. “Champion tight-wire walker, Bird Millman. walks from cornice to cornice on the Municipal Building, 25 stories above the street.” She also did this in 1916 as well and a sketch of her in the air in front of the Woolworth building appeared on the cover of Feb 1917 Popular Mechanics. She helped raise money for the war effort with that appearance.

  3. Thank you SO much. She was a pioneer, the Philippe Petit of her time. Seriously courageous and amazing.

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