Loie Fuller


This poster by Jules Cheret, advertising Loie Fuller’s performance at the Folies-Bergere, is one of the iconic images of Art Nouveau. It utilized the novel printing technology of chromolithography to capture the brilliant colors that “La Loie” conjured on stage with the new technology of electric lighting.

Loïe Fuller (1862-1928) was named an Irreplaceable Dance Treasure by the Dance Heritage Coalition. She created a unique art form by crafting mesmerizing, multi-media spectacles out of fabric, motion and light. With her swirling costumes and specially-engineered illuminations, this American-born artist enraptured fin de siècle Paris. A favorite subject of visual artists (Jules Chéret [see left], Henri de Toulouse-Latrec, François-Raoul Larche, Pierre Roche, among others), she became the embodiment of the Art Nouveau movement. Fuller’s unprecedented success in Europe paved the way for the careers of later modern dancers, including Isadora Duncan, Maud Allan, and Ruth St. Denis. Fuller was influential, not just in fields of dance and the visual arts, but also in lighting design, stagecraft and cinema. Given the today’s preoccupation with technology and its origins, Fuller’s ingenious use of special effects has particular relevance. An independent visionary artist, Fuller fashioned herself into one of her era’s most influential and celebrated performers. Fuller is the subject of the César winning-French feature film La Danseuse (“The Dancer,” 2016, dir. Stephanie Di Giusto). Time Lapse Dance Artistic Director, Jody Sperling, was a creative consultant for the movie, choreographed Loie’s dance scenes and was the dance coach for Soko who portrayed Loie. The film debuted at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.


Selected Resources
Here are a few resource on Loie Fuller. Please see the PUBLICATIONS PAGE for links to Jody Sperling’s writings on Loie, including the recent TRIBUTE ESSAY written for the Dance Heritage Coalition. Below, is a list of volumes devoted to Fuller and with Sperling’s notes.


Fuller sewed wands inside her silk garments to extend her reach into space. Thus, she was able to manipulate the fabric into larger-than-life sculptural forms. On stage, the white silk seen here would have been stained with multi-colored lights and magic-lantern projections. (Photographer unknown. Musée d’Orsay, Paris.)

Published Biographies

In English:
Current, Richard Nelson & Marcia Ewing Current, Loie Fuller: Goddess of Light, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1997.
The Currents’ biography offers the most comprehensive biographical information in English on Fuller’s life and chronology of events.

Albright, Ann Cooper, Traces of Light: Absence and Presence in the Work of Loie Fuller, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, 2007.
This book takes a “performative scholarship” angle and includes insights gleaned from the author’s own dancing experiences.

Fuller, Loie, Fifteen Years of a Dancer’s Life, Small, Maynard & Company, Boston, 1913.
Loie wrote her memoirs under stressful and rushed circumstances. There are some vivid impressions and memorable passages, but unfortunately it’s not the most compelling narrative of her extraordinary life and work.

Garelick, Rhonda, Electric Salome: Loie Fuller’s Performance of Modernism, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford. 2007.
Garelick’s volume puts Fuller’s achievements in context with other modernist movements. The final chapter includes a discussion of Sperling’s work which you can read HERE.

In French:
Lista, Giovanni, Loïe Fuller: Danseuse de la Belle Époque, Stock-Éditions d’Art Somogy, Paris, 1994.
At almost 700 pages, this tomb is the most comprehensive work on Fuller. It’s beautifully illustrated and includes a detailed chronology, filmography and other useful resources.

In Italian:
Veroli, Patrizia, Loïe Fuller, L’Epos, Palermo, 2009.
A newly arrived volume from an accomplished writer and scholar.


This unauthorized illustration, originally published in “Scientific American” June 20, 1896, reveals the stage set-up for a Fuller-style dance. Operators shine lights on the dancer from the sides of the stage and from below, through a plate-glass cutaway. Each technician manually rotates a disc of gels to change the lamp’s color and textural effects. At the bottom left of the stage, the magic-lantern operator is poised to cast images onto the dancer’s costume. From Hopkins, Albert A., Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, including Trick Photography, Munn & Co., New York, 1901).

Archival Sources
In New York: There is an extensive collection of Loie Fuller materials at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. One item there, The Robinson Locke Scrapbook of Loie Fuller Clippings has a wonderful assortment of period article clippings. Another catalog item, the “Loie Fuller Collection”  contains 4 reels of microfilm including papers, manuscripts, photographs and other miscellaney.

In Paris: The Rondel Collection at the Bibliotheque National de France, contains a treasure trove of clippings, programs and photographs of Loie Fuller. There are also Fuller photographs and materials at the Musee d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum and the Bibliotheque de l’Opera.

In Washington State: The Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, WA has a collection of Loie-related artifacts and an archive containing an extensive clipping collection and other documents.