December 21, 2014
SUNDAY FROM MY DESK
Starting tonight, the Sun appears to pause for three days as we swing around. In Milan today there are only nine hours of daylight, and the new Moon tonight makes this the longest and darkest night of the year. All the great myths about the stars and us, and all celestial allegories of peace and war come to the mind, but the best of all our myths is to remember that a new moon solstice is the best day to plant the seeds of all good deeds for this coming year, deep in the soil of our hearts.
A day where hearts have to dance.
A choreographer, dancer and inventor of electrified colored stage lighting, Loie Fuller moved to Paris from America at the turn of the century promoting her interpretations of modern dance, becoming the muse of the art nouveau artists at the turn of the
19th century, including Toulouse-Lautrec.
Made of transluscent silk, when colored lights were projected onto the stage, the flowing fabric would seem to change colors. The Lumiere brothers and their experimental film techniques have left a small taste of this amazing effect
on the stage of the Follies Bergere.
Loie Fuller poses in her Butterfly gown. Taken in the most famous Parisian photography studio of the day, Atelier Reutlinger was founded in 1850 by Charles Reutlinger. Until 1937, with Charles’ brother and later nephew joining the firm, the studio took photos of all the rich and famous of the day, including all the stars of the Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergère. The most requested portrait photographer, Léopold Reutlinger took pictures of legendary Mata Hari, Sarah Bernardt, La Bella Otero, and Lina Cavalieri.
Here, an artist captures the flowing colors of Loie’s interpretation of the Firebird. Stravinsky’s music had been composed for the Ballets Russe in 1910 to wild acclaim and interpreted by many artists in dance and canvas. Fuller revolutionized the staging of dancing with the use of electric lighting. She also developed new applications, and experimented with phosphorescent salts for colors effects. She was perfect for the new Paris Exposition of 1900, and became the only female dancer to have her own theatre there. Using her gift as an impresario as well as performer, she contacted Sada Yacco to perform a provacative one act play “The Geisha and the Knight”, bringing notoriety to Fuller, and helping Yacco’s future brilliant success.
Sada, born a geisha, married a Japanese actor/playright and together they toured America where Sada was encouraged to play the womens roles onstage. Here, as Ophilia, she begins to present a natural face and western clothing.
Her presence in Paris led to further creative adventures with dance and theatre. The tight knit groups of artists, painters, dancers and musicians in the theatrical world created opportunities for artists to create new works. Here Sada in a drawing by
Pablo Picasso “la danseuse Sada Yacco”, 1901.
Here, a young Picasso explores the exuberant heart of Sada’s dance, 1901.