Loïe Fuller is often remembered as a dancer, but that hardly covers her contributions to the arts. Sure, she was a dancer, but also an actress, a chemist, an artist, and a pioneer in stage lighting and choreography. She was inquisitive and energetic, full of creativity and drive. She was the belle of Paris and the Art Nouveau movement, and she was an art agent of sorts who matched up her artist friends with her art buying ones…but she is best referred to as La Loïe, THE Loïe, one of a kind.
Marie Louise Fuller was born on January 15, 1862, in Fullersburg, Illinois. She hit the stage early (at age two doing a “dramatic” recitation on a community stage) and spent a decade struggling as a working performer in the US, until she literally tripped upon the creation of a new act: The Serpentine Dance.
Surrounded by controlled, billowing, and undulating fabric and lit in a most colorful way with her own inventions, the average-looking woman transformed herself in the most magical of creations. When she got fed up with America, she headed to Europe, shaved a few years off her age, frenchified her name, and quickly established herself in the Parisian art world.
On the stage and in life, Loïe was in constant, creative motion: one moment a dancer, the next a chemist and inventor, the next a stage lighting and costuming pioneer…and always on the look-out for new tech and new artists to promote.
Loïe died at the age of 65 on January 1, 1928. Her contributions to stage performance are still in use today, the art she was instrumental in placing in museums is still appreciated, and her stylized images are recognized around the world…but her name settled into the dust of history.
Not cool, History, not cool.
Time Travel With The History Chicks
Loïe’s life can be looked at from so many angles, it’s an abstract of one of her illusions: stage lighting and design, costuming, dance, STEAM, feminism…and there is much written about Loïe through an LGBTQ lens, here is a starter set: A look at her life AND art from Queeratorial (I learned a lot on this site, not only about Loïe ), her influence on contemporary flagging a type of dance in recent history in the LGBTQ community (I pray that’s not derogatory, please send me an email if it is) and a few more details of her life with Gab from San Francisco Bay Times (with an appearance by Alma!)
Since the work of this subject was so visual, here’s how it looked from the movie The Dancer choreographed by Jody Sperling and then Jody performing a reenactment of one of Loie’s dances to Clair de Lune:
Of course, if you find yourself in Washington state between March 15 and November 15, you really should stop by the Maryhill Museum of Art. Report back, we would LOVE to go! #HistoryChicksFieldTrip
There are no moving pictures of Loïe. I know you might say, “But I Googled! Here are some!” Nope, those are imitators, and some do bear a physical resemblance to her and a knock-off resemblance to her dances. Loïe loved still photography, capturing one moment in time, but to see her move you had to pay the price of a ticket. However, there is a cinematic movie that gives you a peek at her dances and why they captivated audiences. It has A LOT of historical inaccuracies, be forewarned, but it is visually stunning.
Loïe lives on and still inspires long after her death…and most people don’t even realize it! (Choreographed by Jody Sperling)
As of this writing, there are a couple of last-minute openings to join us as we tour London, and there are unlimited (ish) openings to join us for our Locals’ Meet-up Dinner Thames River Cruise! For details and to register, visit Like Minds Travel. We hope to meet you there!
Break music: Spinning Daydreams by Alan Marshand; End Music: Dance Forever by Kyren used with permission from IlicenseMusic