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Click to Watch in HD > Loie Fuller, Danse Serpentine - by the Lumiére Brothers (1897)
Watch Loie Fuller, Danse Serpentine - by the Lumiére Brothers (1897)
Loie Fuller (1862 - 1928) was one of the most innovative dance artists of the 20th century. Her work influenced not only future artists in modern dance, such as Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, but also a whole range of poets, painters, sculptors, and intellectuals. She brought both revolutionary dance forms and technical innovations in costume and lighting to American, Caribbean, London, and Paris stages.
Unlike most of the pioneers in modern dance who followed her, Fuller was not classically trained in ballet or any other formal dance technique. Instead, she began her career as a burlesque skirt-dancer, in vaudeville, and in the circus. She choreographed her own dances, increasingly incorporating her own style of improvisational dance techniques, and designed vast silk costumes, animated by long baton-like wands (made of aluminum or bamboo) which she held and swirled beneath layers of transparent fabric. These had the effect of both amplifying her bodily movements and imparting a surreal, flowing quality to them.
Her swirling arm movements and colored lights produced a mesmerizing effect that many of her contemporary artists and filmmakers (including the Lumiére Brothers) attempted to capture and many later artists attempted to reproduce. Her early experience in burlesque, vaudeville, and circus was transformed into stunning visual effects and artistic innovations, resulting in what her French contemporary Arsène Alexandre called the marvelous dream-creature you see dancing madly in a vision swirling among her dappled veils which change ten thousand times a minute
One feels subtly transported into the strangest regions of the dream . . . in these astonishing apparitions, something satanic and demonic, but of a gentle Satanism, of a poetic and suggestive demonality, which sets one on the starry and luminous path of hashishian dreams . . . (F. de Ménil, Histoire de la Danse à travers les Âges, Paris, 1904, pp. 340-341).
For many painters and poets, especially those attracted to or associated with the Symbolist movement, Fullers performances embodied everything they hoped to accomplish in their work. Expressive yet barely mimetic, beautiful yet utterly modern, and with the suggestion of transport to otherworldly realms, her synthesis of color, movement, and music resonated deeply with other artists who saw her. Stéphane Mallarmé called her the theatrical form of poetry par excellence, and saw her as the personification of his artistic ideals.
Visual artists of the Symbolist and Art Nouveau movements, among others, were inspired by her combination of light, color, and motion, and responded with works designed to create similar or complementary effects. Toulouse-Lautrec, John W. Alexander, James McNeill Whistler, Georges de Feure, Théodore Rivière, Georges Meunier, Pierre Roche, Auguste Rodin, Ferdinand Bac, Alfred Choubrac, and Jules Cheret created paintings, posters, and sculptures, of her, while the Lumiére brothers, Georges Méliès, and Léon Gaumont worked with her on ambitious new projects in film.
As her career progressed, she used increasingly innovative music as well, by composers such as Hector Berlioz, Edvard Grieg, Florent Schmitt, Claude Debussy, and Alexander Scriabin. Poets such as Mallarmé, Georges Rodenbach, and Count Robert de Montesquiou devoted essays and poems to her, while W.B. Yeats included her school of students in his poem Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen:
via Yale University: http://modernism.research.yale.edu/index.php
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