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Electric Salome:
Loie Fuller's Performance of Modernism
Rhonda K. Garelick

Paperback | 2009 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691141091
288 pp. | 5 3/4 x 9 | 44 halftones. 2 line illus.
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Loie Fuller was the most famous American in Europe throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rising from a small-time vaudeville career in the States, she attained international celebrity as a dancer, inventor, impresario, and one of the first women filmmakers in the world. Fuller befriended royalty and inspired artists such as Mallarmé, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Sarah Bernhardt, and Isadora Duncan. Today, though, she is remembered mainly as an untutored "pioneer" of modern dance and stage technology, the "electricity fairy" who created a sensation onstage whirling under colored spotlights. But in Rhonda Garelick's Electric Salome, Fuller finally receives her due as a major artist whose work helped lay a foundation for all modernist performance to come. The book demonstrates that Fuller was not a mere entertainer or precursor, but an artist of great psychological, emotional, and sexual expressiveness whose work illuminates the centrality of dance to modernism.

Electric Salome places Fuller in the context of classical and modern ballet, Art Nouveau, Orientalism, surrealism, the birth of cinema, American modern dance, and European drama. It offers detailed close readings of texts and performances, situated within broader historical, cultural, and theoretical frameworks. Accessibly written, the book also recounts the human story of how an obscure, uneducated woman from the dustbowl of the American Midwest moved to Paris, became a star, and lived openly for decades as a lesbian.


"Garelick's lucid, engrossing study . . . unwraps the contradictions that have kept Fuller as veiled from modern audiences as she was from those at the Folies-Bergere."--Andrea Walker, Times Literary Supplement

"A most welcome 'finding' of a dancer never lost, Electric Salome offers a remarkably smart reading of Fuller's contribution to dance history, one that makes clear the importance of that contribution to modernism broadly construed."--Catherine Gunther Kodat, Modernism Modernity

"In her mesmerizing dances, swirling huge skirts under colored lights of her own design, Fuller paved the way for new visual effects in theater. [I]n Electric Salome Rhonda Garelick attempts to reposition Fuller as a central player in the multiple histories of ballet, modern dance, theater, visual art and postmodern performance. The best part of Electric Salome is how Garelick puts Fuller's story into a context that we can appreciate."--Matthew Hunter Griffin, Time Out Chicago

"Rhonda Garelick's Electric Salome...argues for Fuller's relevance beyond her status as modern dance 'pioneer' and traces the way in which her work was modernist in its own right. Garelick's book spirals out, teasing out connections with Fuller to broader movements of colonialism, as well as Romantic Ballet and Modernist Drama. [Electric Salome offers] significant advances to Loie Fuller scholarship [and argues] persuasively for the importance of Fuller's legacy."--Judy Sperling, Dance Films Association Review

"This indispensable book benefits from Garelick's lucid prose, superb images, and insightful footnotes."--S.R. Irelan, Choice

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