We watched a film last night called ‘the dancer’ about the artist Loie Fuller.
She was a dancer who changed the way we view movement and the body.
She was a fierce pioneer who forged a path as an independent woman at a time when that was a long way from what was expected of women.
I’ve known about her work since I studied as a dancer at University.
But I had never seen any footage of her actual dance.
It is breath taking. Even now. With all the amazing effects and trickery we have access to…Loie did a simple astounding thing. She created a flowing dress that she inserted sticks into the arms of and she drew pictures in the air by moving her arms (and body) through space. The effect is like some outrageous, mesmerising sea creature. She was also at the forefront of using lighting, mirrors and stage craft to create dramatic effects.
When I watched this fictionalised version of her life and this dance last night I was very moved. I fell in love with dance again. I think I realised why it is so important to me.
Around the turn of the century (when the 1800’s became the 1900’s) human beings reinvented themselves by redefining their relationship with the body. Women were the major pioneers at this time. Mable Todd, Loie Fuller, and all of the body practitioners and artists who followed them, asked questions about how movement worked and began to challenge the clothing that contained the body and stopped it from moving in its natural ways.
It was a rediscovery.
An attempt to undo the damage that was done through ‘progress’.
Watching this film I saw how political the body is. And how these contemporary pioneers of movement, reacting against the restrictions and anti-gravity aspirations of the ballet, were changing the language of human movement in a way that laid the foundation for the freedom I now benefit from.
I was moved, and very grateful.
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