Friday, June 20, 2008

Loie Fuller (Joseph Rous Paget-Fredericks Dance Collection)

The Joseph Rous Paget-Fredericks Dance Collection at the University of California consists of 'approximately 2,000 original drawings, paintings and photographs, as well as scrapbooks and other dance memorabilia', collected from around 1913 to 1945.
There are some fantastic images online of dancers from this period, such as paintings of Anna Pavlova and photos of Chicago-born Loie Fuller (1862-1928). The latter was not only a pioneer of free dance, but of the lightshow - as early as the 1890s she was experimenting with different coloured gas lighting on silk in her dance performances. She 'held many patents for stage lighting, including the first chemical mixes for gels and slides and the first use of luminescent salts to create lighting effects' (source).

After seeing Fuller perform at the Folies-Berigere in Paris in 1893, the symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé wrote:

‘Her performance, sui generis, is at once an artisitic intoxication and an industrial achievement, In that terrible bath of materials swoons the radiant, cold dancer, illustrating countless themes of gyration. From her proceeds an expanding web – giant butterflies and petals, unfoldings – everything of a pure and elemental order. She blends with the rapidly changing colours which vary their limelit phantasmagoria of twilight and grotto, their rapid emotional changes – delight, mourning, anger; and to set these off, prismatic, either violent or dilute as they are, there must be the dizziness of soul made visible by an artifice' (quoted in What is Dance?: Readings in Theory and Criticism By Roger Copeland, Marshall Cohen, Oxford University Press 1983).

(thank to Fed by Birds for pointing me in the direction of this archive)

1 comment:

Dr Mum said...

Musee D'Orsay Paris has some filmed archive of a troop of Lois Fuller and some acolytes dancing in very similar longsleeves in a garden. It must be a really early bit of film. Mesmerising as they show it in a darkened booth of a room.