Back to top

Seven ballet dancers burned to death in their dressing room at the Continental Theater in Philadelphia

Fire at the Ballet, Continental Theater, Philadelphia, September 14, 1861, detail
The Continental Theater in Philadelphia was producing Shakespeare's Tempest in ballet form with a large corps of dancers.  Just before a performance, as the women were dressing, the costume of one caught fire from a gas lamp.  Others ran to help her and their dresses caught as well.  Quickly, many in the dressing-room were ablaze.  Seven women dancers died from their burns and others suffered serious injuries.  (By John Osborne) 
Source Citation: 
Chronicle, The Annual Register or a View of the History and Politics of the Year 1861 (London: F. & J. Rivington, 1862), p. 184-185.
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, September 28, 1861, p. 312-313.