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Portrait of Sammy Baird in Dance
Sammy Baird was a local Kansas City dance instructor and vaudeville performer. This picture captures a profile view of Baird in a dramatic dancer's pose, effortlessly balanced on a single pointed toe with the other leg bent and the knee and lifted. She repeats the pose with her arms, holding her left arm raised in the air above her while her right arm grazes her right calf to conclude her overall balance. As if being held in a dip by an unseen dance partner, she looks behind her with her chin pointed skyward. She is garbed in an ethereal costume that lends an otherworldly air to the portrait. Hixon has edited the image to include a short, flippy hairstyle that remains in place despite Baird's pose. This portrait is a fine example of how Orval Hixon used his distinctive artistic technique to transform a single pose into a narrative image. By illuminating Baird's face using an electric lamp, Hixon created the illusion of a footlight, thereby evoking the drama of the stage. He also succeeded in subliminally highlighting Baird's impressing skill. A manipulation of the glass negative prior to making a print added a greater sense of visual and narrative depth to the work.