January 19, 1921: Emily Schupp—aka “Lada”—makes her triumphant return to Duluth

Emily Schupp in a photograph that ran in the New York Tribune, March 19, 1922. (Image: Public Domain)

On this day in Duluth in 1921, Duluth native and modern dance Emily Schupp—better known across the globe as “Lada”—returned to her home town for a performance at the Shrine Auditorium that marked her triumphant return to the Zenith City. She began to dance professionally on April 24, 1914, at New York’s Princess Theater. During 1916–17 she danced with the Russian Symphony Orchestra on a thirty-five city American tour. She appeared solo in some southern states in May 1917, and followed that with a two-month tour in South America. On December 5, 1919, she appeared alone on the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City. A New York Times reviewer called her “the latest of American pioneers in dancing, and the one on whom has descended their mantle.” A capacity crowd greeted her at Duluth’s Shrine Auditorium, which the Duluth News Tribune described as, “gaily draped with flags as a tribute to the internationally famous dancer who returned to the scenes of her childhood.” Earlier that week the Duluth News Tribune described Lada as a “dainty, captivating dancer [and] the epitome of all that is graceful and fascinating.” The crowd burst into applause the moment she took the stage—the newspaper opined that “probably not in London or Paris has [Lada] ever had a more enthusiastic or sympathetic audience than the one which welcomed her” at the Shrine. She performed seven dances—all of which she choreographed herself—and changed costumes for each number. For “Lassie of Mine” she wore a “quaint Scotch costume; for “Will o’ the Wisp” a “powdered wig and snow-suite costume.” Since the event was sponsored by the American Legion, she closed with “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” during which she “wield[ed] a dainty parasol with all the preciseness with which a brigadier general handles a gun.” The report added that “the Legion boys were audibly amused.” You can read much more about Lada here.

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