LOIE (working title)

I remember learning about Loie Fuller in dance history classes: she was one of the American “mothers of modern dance”, up there with Ruth St Denis and Isadora Duncan. She revolutionised theatre lighting and after moving to Paris in the 1890´s she became famous worldwide for her hypnotising dances, where she twirled with illuminated fabrics to transform herself into butterflies, snakes, or flowers. Every teacher mentioned how important she was for the field. But no one ever told me she was a lesbian.

In this new work which will be created in 2023, Claire Lefèvre juxtaposes historical research with intimate storytelling and imagines fantastical conversations with the turn-of-the-century artist. Together they discuss everything from their love for the magic of theatre, to the systematic erasure of queer femmes in dance history. Using the video recording of Loie´s Serpentine Dance as an archival starting point, Claire reinterprets choreography from the pioneer, distilling the glimpses of queerness that permeated her artistic practice: The way she camouflaged her body behind a mass of swirling silk, or how she shape-shifted away from gendered representation and became an abstract figure instead. 

Layer after layer, the piece also unveils Loie´s questionable ties with colonial aesthetics and cultural appropriation, revealing the complex legacy of the artist and how it impacts the way we think of, and embody, contemporary dance until today.

This piece is a celebration of femme imagination: working closely with sound designer Zosia Holubowska, video artist Maanila Santos De Moraes, and textile artist Sophie Utikal, this solo channels Loie Fuller´s stagecraft and invites the audience on a kaleidoscopic trip, where dances of the past illuminate today´s political discourse around performance lineages, queerness and femininity. Reclaiming Loie´s legacy without putting her on a perilous pedestal, Claire Lefèvre choreographs an ode to the lesbian dancer role model she wishes she had growing up. 

This production is supported by Brut Wien and MA7 Wien Kultur.