Loie Fuller and the Beginnings of American Modern Dance [VIDEO]

 Guide: Modern Dance in America

This is the first in my forthcoming series of videos charting the evolution of Modern dance in America. Here I briefly survey the atmosphere that gave birth to pioneering dancers Loie Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, and explore the performance style and impact of Loie Fuller (1862-1928). While her career took place primarily in Europe (and particularly Paris), her work was well known in America. Loie paved the way for—or was perhaps a precursor to—Modern dance.

I’m teaching as I learn, so it’s possible there may be errors of fact or overly broad generalizations in this video. Feel free to comment with corrections or additions (and please provide a citation if possible). My main sources were:

Mazo, Joseph H. Prime Movers: The Makers of Modern Dance in America. Princeton, 2000. pp. 13-34.
Reynolds, Nancy, and Malcolm McCormick. No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century. Yale UP, 2003. pp. 1-10.

Supplemental Viewing

Given how early Fuller’s work was, there is very little photographic documentation. Here’s a short film clip from 1896 of Fuller’s Danse Serpentine posted on YouTube (I have read conflicting reports on whether this film depicts Fuller herself or a follower of her work). This is hand-colored, frame-by-frame, to create the illusion of colored lighting.

P.S. On the wish list for when I win the lottery: this crazy Art Nouveau bronze sculptural lamp of Loie Fuller: http://bit.ly/wq5Ymp

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