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Photograph of Fuller Dancing

Loie Fuller Dancin

Loie Fuller Dancing

This photograph is of the American dancer Loie Fuller demonstrating her famous dance in which she manipulates with bamboo sticks an immense skirt made of over a hundred yards of translucent, iridescent silk. Loie Fuller (1862-1928) was an actress and dancer who was a pioneer of both modern dance and theatrical lighting techniques.

This early photograph captures shapes reminiscent of chalices and butterflies. It was taken in the middle of an urban park and is part of a group of photographs attributed to Samuel Joshua Beckett, a photographer working in London.

Fuller began her theatrical career as a professional child actress and later choreographed and performed dances as a skirt dancer, vaudeville, and circus shows. An early free dance practitioner, Fuller developed her natural movement and improvisation techniques. In multiple shows, she experimented with a long skirt, choreographing its movements and playing with the ways it could reflect light.

In the hope of receiving serious artistic recognition, Fuller left for Europe in 1892. Her warm reception in Paris persuaded Fuller to stay in France, where she became one of the leading revolutionaries in the arts.

Loie Fuller Dancing

  • Title:                  Loie Fuller Dancing
  • Date:                 1900
  • Photographer:  Samuel Joshua Beckett ( 1870–1940)
  • Medium:           Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions:      010.3 x 13.3 cm (4 x 5 1/4 in.), irregularly trimmed
  • Museum:           Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

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  • Why did so many early American modern dancers have to travel to Europe to seek the recognition they could not get in America.
  • Why is Fuller’s work experiencing a new resurgence of professional and public interest?


” A photograph is a secret about a secret.
The more it tells you, the less you know.”

– Diane Arbus”


Photo Credit: 1) Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons  

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