At the weekend I performed an interpretation of Loïe Fuller’s Serpentine, Radium and Fire Dances for the Royal Academy of Arts Lates: Barcelona Modernisme. The photo above was taken by Justine Trickets. For more photos head to the Royal Academy of Arts’ Flickr channel.
No Flamenco this time, but modern dance in the style of one of the pioneers of American modern dance, which took Europe by storm at the turn of the 19th century. And it’s still beautiful today and you can still feel the quest for artistic, physical and even political freedom.
Who was Loïe Fuller?
Loïe Fuller “seemed to be doing almost single-handed what Diaghilev was later to achieve only with the help of great painters, musicians, and dancers.”Literary critic Frank Kermode
Fuller (1862-1928) was one of the pioneers of modern dance. Her work, alongside that of Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Dennis, built the foundations of American modern dance and influenced artists from the United States to Europe and Russia.
Fuller made her European debut at the Folies Bergère in 1892. From Paris she conquered European audiences, including Symbolist, Impressionist and Art Nouveau artists.
Famous for her Serpentine, Fire and Radium Dances, she used lighting and costume to create dramatic, spell-binding performances. In addition to her legacy as a performer, she contributed greatly to stage design and technology.
Tonight, we recreate some of her spectacle.
How it felt to reinterpret Loïe Fuller
That’s the best word to describe how it felt to perform this work.
It was wonderful to enter the stage after engulfing myself in the gorgeous accordion playing of Sergio Casado, encouraging to look at the receptive and engaged audience and inspiring to take in the beautiful space of the Reynolds Room while dancing. Not to mention the honour of spinning and moving to Stravinsky and paying homage to Loïe Fuller.
Recreating modern dance by Loïe Fuller
I trained in modern and contemporary dance and took workshops in the style of Isadora Duncan, another pioneer of modern dance. I always enjoyed the movement vocabulary, its expressiveness and rigour. I have studied the history of my art form and admire the pioneering spirit, the depth of enquiry and the uncompromising quest for freedom and innovation that have guided these artists.
But nothing comes close to actually performing modern dance in front of a contemporary audience eager to imbue themselves with the spirit of the time and the meaning of the dance.
Thank you Imogen Willets, Lates and Special Events Creative Programmer at the RA, for having me. Thank you Marah Stafford, fellow dancer and co-founder of theatre company Wilson & Hart, for recommending me to Imogen.
If you’re interested in bringing to life iconic modern dance and in creating something truly extraordinary for your event, then get in touch with me now. I look forward to working with you!
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