Photos of Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

Evelina “Eva” Palmer-Sikelianos (1874 – 1952) was an American woman notable for her study and promotion of Classical Greek culture, weaving, theater, choral dance and music. Palmer’s life and artistic endeavors intersected with numerous noteworthy artists throughout her life.

She was both inspired by or inspired the likes of dancers Isadora Duncan and Ted Shawn, the French literary great Colette, the poet and author Natalie Barney and the actress Sarah Bernhardt.

She would go on to marry Angelos Sikelianos, a Greek poet and playwright. Together they organized a revival of the Delphic Festival in Delphi, Greece. Embodied in these festivals of art, music and theater she hoped to promote a balanced sense of enlightenment that would further the goals of peace and harmony in Greece and beyond.

 

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Eva Palmer-Sikelianos via

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Eva Palmer-Sikelianos via

 

Amazing Photos of the First Modern Dancer Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan (1877 – 1927)  is known as the mother of  “modern dance,” founding the “New System” of interpretive dance, blending together poetry, music and the rhythms of nature.  She did not believe in the formality of conventional ballet and gave birth to a more free form of dance. She ultimately proved to be the most famous dancer of her time.

Duncan’s philosophy of dance moved away from rigid ballet technique and towards what she perceived as natural movement. To restore dance to a high art form instead of entertainment, she sought the connection between emotions and movement:

“I spent long days and nights in the studio seeking that dance which might be the divine expression of the human spirit through the medium of the body’s movement.”

“The dancer’s body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul.”

Duncan took inspiration from ancient Greece and combined it with an American love of freedom. This is exemplified in her revolutionary costume of a white Grecian tunic and bare feet. Inspired by Grecian forms, her tunics also allowed a freedom of movement corseted ballet costumes and pointe shoes did not. She was very inspired by ancient Greek art and utilized some of those forms in her movement. Duncan wrote of American dancing:

“let them come forth with great strides, leaps and bounds, with lifted forehead and far-spread arms, to dance.”

Her focus on natural movement emphasized steps, such as skipping, outside of codified ballet technique. Duncan also cites the sea as an early inspiration for her movement. Also, she believed movement originated from the solar plexus, which she thought was the source of all movement. It was this philosophy and new dance technique that garnered Duncan the title of the creator of modern dance.

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Amazing Vintage Photos of Loïe Fuller and the Serpentine Dance

in the 1890s the amazing serpentine dance became popular throughout Europe and the United States. The new dance was created by Loïe Fuller (1862 – 1928). Fuller was a visionary artist whose novel genre of performance combined billowing costumes with dazzling lights and projections to conjure transformative imagery of hypnotic beauty. Born in Chicago, Fuller embarked on an early theatrical career as an actress and singer in vaudeville, stock companies, and burlesque before developing the dance style that made her famous in the early 1890s. Through experiments with silk drapery and colored lights, she evolved her first Serpentine Dance. Thereafter, the genre became known as “serpentine dancing” and was widely imitated.

Her warm reception in Paris during a European tour persuaded Fuller to remain in France and continue her work. A regular performer at the Folies Bergère with works such as Fire Dance, Fuller became the embodiment of the Art Nouveau movement. Fuller’s pioneering work attracted the attention, respect, and friendship of many French artists and scientists, including Jules Chéret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, François-Raoul Larche, Henri-Pierre Roché, Auguste Rodin, Franz von Stuck, Maurice Denis, Thomas Theodor Heine, Koloman Moser, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Marie Curie.

Although they later became rivals, Fuller helped the career of a young Isadora Duncan. Fuller helped Duncan ignite her European career in 1902 by sponsering independent concerts in Vienna and Budapest.

At the turn of the 20th century, Fuller brought dance to the cutting edge of modernity, and her energy and ambition made her one of the most influential American women of her era. Fuller died in Paris, France, on January 2, 1928.

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Portrait of Loïe Fuller, by Frederick Glasier, 1902 via

The Serpentine Dance on Film

This is an 1896 film of Fuller performing the dance by pioneering film-makers the Lumière brothers. It gives a hint of what her performance was like. The Serpentine Dance was a frequent subject of early motion pictures, as it highlighted the new medium’s ability to portray movement and light. Many other filmmakers produced their own versions, distributing prints that had been hand-tinted to evoke (though not quite reproduce) the appearance of colored light projection. Fuller also appeared in films by Segundo de Chomon, fx. in the 1908 silent Création de la Serpentine (1908).

Beautiful Vintage Photos of Ruth St. Denis

Ruth Saint Denis (January 1879 – 1968) was a modern dance pioneer, introducing eastern ideas into the art.

While touring in Belasco’s production of Madame Du Barry in 1904 her life was changed. She was at a drugstore with another member of Belasco’s company in Buffalo, New York, when she saw a poster advertising Egyptian Deities cigarettes. The poster portrayed the Egyptian goddess Isis enthroned in a temple; this image captivated St. Denis on the spot and inspired her to create dances that expressed the mysticism that the goddess’s image conveyed. From then on, St. Denis was immersed in Oriental philosophies.

Like Loie Fuller and Isadora Duncan before her, St. Denis felt that Europe might have more to offer her. She left with her mother for London in 1906, and traveled the continent performing her “translations” until 1909, when she returned to give a series of well-received concerts in New York City and on tour in the United States. During the next five years she continued to tour, building her reputation as an exotic dancer with an artistic bent, a “classic dancer” in the same catagory as Isadora Duncan. These two artists were, however, inherently different in their approach to the solo dance. According to St. Denis’ biographer Suzanne Shelton, Duncan sought “the Self in the Universe,” and St. Denis sought “the Universe in the Self.” For St. Denis, the exotic worlds she intended to interpret could be seen from the vantage point of her body. One of her quotes reads as follows:

I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words.

After 1911, the vogue for solo dancers on the professional stage died down. To support herself, St. Denis often gave private lessons to society women, including Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. In 1938 St. Denis founded Adelphi University’s dance program, one of the first dance departments in an American university. It has since become a cornerstone of Adelphi’s Department of Performing Arts.

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Ruth St Denis in the ‘East Indian Nautch Dance’ (1932)

Ruth St Denis is seen here performing the Indian Noche (1932) one of her most famous pieces.