Fuller, Loie

Fuller, Loie lōˈē [key], 1862–1928, American dancer and theatrical innovator, b. Fullersburg, Ill., as Mary Louise Fuller. She began her career as a child, performing in burlesque, vaudeville, the circus, plays, and other popular entertainments. Self-taught as a dancer, Fuller explored the use of voluminous silken skirts, which, illuminated by the multicolored lighting she created, floated, flowed, and swirled in her famous “Serpentine Dance,” first performed in New York in 1892. Later that year she traveled to Paris, where she and her dance productions became wildly successful. She was painted by Toulouse-Lautrec, sculpted by Rodin, exalted by Mallarmé and other writers, and dramatically portrayed in various art nouveau works. Remaining in Europe, Fuller became a successful artistic entrepeneur, forming her own school (1908) and founding a troupe that toured worldwide. She continued to experiment with lighting effects and other forms of stagecraft, and ultimately choreographed more than 100 dances.

See her autobiography, Fifteen Years of a Dancer's Life (1908, tr. 1913); biographies by S. R. Sommer and M. Harris (1989) and R. N. and M. E. Current (1997).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Dance: Biographies