I was sent the following photo with a request that I offer an explanation of this riveting ballet tableau:
I would be only too happy to oblige.
What you are viewing is a photo of a seminal but rarely-seen experimental work set in the Civil War era and entitled “Mary Todd Lincoln and the Frilled Lizards.” It dramatizes the story of the terrible night Mrs. Lincoln, nerves already fraught by years of war and suffering, was set upon on the White House lawn by eight large specimens of the frill-neck lizard ((Chlamydosaurus kingii) escaped from a nearby zoo.
The lizards were disguised as young women through the clever ruse of wearing beribboned bonnets. Although Ms. Lincoln recognized them as the reptiles they were and was initially terrified, she soon realized (having been led to the Wikipedia entry by Googling) that these lizards only display the ruff when frightened and attempting to ward off predators. Therefore even the excitable Mrs. Lincoln was able to calm down and enjoy the encounter.
This is the exact moment depicted in the photograph (meant to be viewed only from the front and not from behind) of the ballet. And to show you how brave Mrs. Lincoln must have been, just imagine eight giant versions of these things coming at you:
[NOTE: If you wish to see a larger image of the dance photo, please go here.]