California Theatre – La Loie Fuller – Original 1896 Performance Programme.
A remarkable survival, a flimsy folded single-sheet programme produced for Fuller’s two shows at Al Hayman’s California Theatre in November 1896. Fuller’s Serpentine Fire Dance had made her the toast of avant garde Paris, earning her the respectful soubriquet “La Loie Fuller”; drawn by Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Whistler, and Chéret and celebrated in words by Georges Rodenbach, Robert de Montesquiou, and Stéphane Mallarmé who called her “the theatrical form of poetry par excellence”. Her many technical innovations in lighting, colour, costume and choreography created effects which seem to have profoundly affected her audiences, musicologist and historian of the dance Félicien de Ménil described how “One feels subtly transported into the strangest regions of the dream … in these astonishing apparitions, something satanic and demonic, but of a gentle Satanism, of a poetic and suggestive demonality, which sets one on the starry and luminous path of hashishian dreams …” This may be difficult to relive through the scant surviving filmed evidence of her work, another of her innovations was to allow herself to be filmed by the Lumière brothers, but her lasting influence is undeniable; “Fuller’s work came to be seen as a bridge between Romanticism and modernism, between ballet and the multiple forms of “new dance,” and between the nineteenth- and twentieth centuries. Fuller both prepared the way for and to some extent was contemporaneous with better-known innovators in dance, such as Diaghilev, Fokine, the Ballets Russes, and Isadora Duncan. Her innovations in movement and stagecraft were unique and inspiring but never fully reproduced by the dance pioneers who followed her” (Carolyn Slinsky, The Modernism Lab at Yale University). The oddly contrasting supporting acts were the popular Tobins trombone duo, The Treble Clef Quartette performing “Now is the Month of Maying”, and Prof. Chas. F. Graeber’s Banjo, Mandolin, & Guitar Club. A footnote draws attention to the fact that “Stearns’ Yellow Fellow Bicycle is used by La Loie Fuller”, a celebrity endorsement rather than a performance note … we hope.
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Small octavo (173 130 mm) Bifolium, printed all four pages. Front cover with image of Fuller in her Serpentine Dance costume. Pale uniform browning and some light creasing.