After making an impromptu debut as a two-year-old reciting religious verse on her father's music hall stage, it seems almost inevitable that Loie (then Louise) Fuller would become the toast of the Paris stage by the turn of the century. In... [more]
After making an impromptu debut as a two-year-old reciting religious verse on her father's music hall stage, it seems almost inevitable that Loie (then Louise) Fuller would become the toast of the Paris stage by the turn of the century. In her dances, she transformed herself into flowers, birds, flames, moths, and clouds, projecting colored swirls of light onto her flowing, oversized silk costumes.
The American-born Fuller was the poster girl for the Symbolist movement -- according to Stephane Mallarme, she was "the physical embodiment of an idea." Her admirers included Yeats, Rodin, James Whistler, and Toulouse-Latrec. The subject of hundreds of lithographs, sculptures, watercolors, etchings, and oil paintings, some art historians give "La Belle Americaine" credit for inspiring the Art Nouveau movement. Both Modern dance pioneers Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis were moved by her performances during their visits to Paris.
And Fuller's list of admirers was not limited to painters and dancers: chemists Pierre and Marie Curie were impressed with her technological experiments with electricity and lighting. For the devices she invented and patented, such as color wheels and slides that dappled light, Fuller is considered the creator of modern lighting design.
At the 1900 Paris International Exhibition in the Palace of Electricity, Fuller wowed a large public audience with a dance performed on an innovative stage designed to her specifications. The stage was fabricated with slabs of thick glass, enabling Fuller to be lit from underneath. Illumined from below and above with individually operated colored lights, Fuller created her renowned fire dance. She whirled and twirled as flames consumed her and she disappeared into blackness, obliterated by fire.
In her dances Fuller created magnificent illusions by manipulating cloth, usually an oversized skirt, with hidden wands. By projecting colored and patterned light onto the morphing cloth, which swelled and spiraled into fantastic shapes, she transfigured herself into objects that were simultaneously exotic and organic. [show less]