Thursday, 16 October 2014

Loie Fuller about Isadora Duncan in " Fifteen years of a dancer's life "

Loie Fuller was a famous dancer  known by combination her choreography with silk costumes illuminated by multi-coloured lighting of her own design.Isadora remembers Loie in her memoirs with admiration,although she admitted that surroundings, in which she was during her time with Loie Fuller, was strange and, later, scared her to the death.
Loie in her autobioghraphy doesn't mention Isadora Duncan by name, but talks about her not very good things.

Loie Fuller, c.1896.

Here what she writes:
It happened in February, 1902. I arrived at Vienna with my Japanese company, headed by Sada Yacco. We had with us an artist to whom I had been delighted to be of service. In Paris my close friend, Madame Nevada, the celebrated American singer,had presented her to me, and the dancer had given me a performance as an example of her skill. She danced with remarkable grace, her body barely covered by the flimsiest of Greek costumes, and she bade fair to become somebody. Since then she has arrived. In her I saw the ancient tragic dances revived. I saw the Egyptian, Greek and Hindoo rhythms recalled.
I told the dancer to what height I believed that she could attain, with study and persistent work. A short time after I left for Berhn, where she rejoined me.During our stay there she was ill most of the time and could do hardly any work. Finally, on our return to Vienna, we began our studies seriously,and I decided to organise some evening affairs as a means of bringing her before an audience of people capable of appreciating and understanding her.
  To this end I took her to every drawing-room that was open to me in Vienna. Our first call was upon the wife of the English ambassador, whom I had known at Brussels when her husband represented the United Kingdom there. On this day I came near going in alone and leaving my dancer in the carriage, because of her personal appearance. She wore an Empire robe, grey, with a long train and a man's hat, a soft felt hat, with a flying veil.Thus gowned she appeared to so little advantage that I rather expected a rebuff. However, I pleaded my dancer's cause so warmly, and I obtained a promise that both the ambassador and his wife would be present on the first evening.
 I went to see the Princess of Mettemich.
  " My dear Princess," I said to her, " I have a friend, a dancer, who has not yet succeeded in coming to the front because she is poor and has no one to launch her. She is very talented,and I am anxious that Viennese drawing-rooms shall come to know her. Are you willing to help me?"

" With pleasure. Wliat must I do ? "

" To begin with, come to my hotel, and see her dance."

" Why, certainly. You can count absolutely upon me." [...]

When I took leave her last words were :

" I shall be delighted to help your friend since I shall be thus able to please you."

I went away gratified and thankful on my own account as well as on my friend's. Then I went to the Embassy of the United States. I saw the ambassador immediately,but I was obliged to wait to see his wife. She entered breezily,bringing with her,as it were,a whife of her own far west. Kind, energetic, jolly, she was a free born woman, cordialand sincere, and I felt at once that I could rely on her. While I spoke of my protegee, theambassador's wife remembered having seen her dance at her sister's house in Chicago some years before. The dancing, to tell the truth, had not particularly interested her,but if it would be of any help to us she would be very glad to come to our performance.
  Sure of having a good audience I returned to the hotel and told my friend that the occasion she had desired so long had at last arrived. I decided to give an evening for the press on the same day on which my friend would appear at a matinee before the Princess and members of the diplomatic corps. I then sent invitations to the Viennese artists and art critics. When the day came everything was in readiness.I had engaged an orchestra;the hall had floral decorations;the buffet was most appetising. [...]

 After having welcomed my guests I begged them to excuse me for a minute and I went in to see
the debutante. It was half -past four. In ten minutes she was due to begin. I found her with her feet in warm water, in the act of dressing her hair, in a very leisurely manner. Startled,I begged her to hurry,explaining that she ran the risk through her negligence of offending an audience that
would definitely give her her start. My words were without effect.Very slowly she continued her preparations. Feeling that I could do nothing with her I returned to the drawing-room and made the greatest effort of my Hfe to get out of this delicate situation.
  I was obliged to make a little impromptu address.What I said I have never known,but I remember having vaguely fashioned something like a dissertation on dancing and its value in relation to the other arts and to nature. I said that the young woman whom we were going to see was not an imitator of the dancers depicted on the Etruscan vases and the frescoes at Pompeii. She was the living reality of which these paintings were only an imitation. She was inspired by the spirit which had made dancers of them.
All at once she made her entrance, calm and indifferent, looking as if she did not care in the least what our guests thought of her. But it was not her air of indifference that surprised me most. I could hardly refrain from rubbing my eyes. She appeared to me nude, or nearly so, to soslight an extent did the gauze which she wore cover her form.

She came to the front, and, while the orchestra played a prelude from Chopin she stood motionless, her eyes lowered, her arms hanging by her side. Then she began to dance. Oh, that dance, how I loved it ! To me it was the most beautiful thing in the world. I forgot the woman and all her fatilts, her absurd affectations, her costume, and even her bare legs. I saw only the dancer, and the artistic pleasure she was giving me. When she had finished no one spoke.  I went up to the Princess. She said to me in a low voice :
 " Why does she dance with so little clothing on?"
Then I suddenly realised the strange attitude of the pubhc, and guided by a sort of inspiration, I answered in tones loud enough so that everybody
should hear :
  " I forgot to tell you how kind our artist is. Her trunks upon which she relied absolutely for the day have not arrived. Accordingly, rather than give you the disappointment of not seeing her dance, she appeared before you in the gown in which she practises."
At nine o'clock the press performance took place. Everybody was enthusiastic, but none more so than I. Next day I arranged a third performance for painters and sculptors, and this affair was likewise a great success. A lady finally asked my friend to dance at her house. The star demanded a very high price. Persuaded by me the lady consented to pay the big fee my dancer claimed to be worth. For several weeks her success increased day by day. Then, at once, people seemed to have forgotten the dancer. She was engaged only rarely, but I was not discouraged. Meantime, I had forgotten to mention it, my friend's mother had joined us at Vienna, and in place of one guest I now had two. A httle while after these performances we went to Budapesth, where I gave a new entertainment to launch my protegee. I invited all the best people of the city to this.
 The leading actress of the Theatre National heard of the affair, and was anxious to take part in it. I invited the theatrical managers as I had done at Vienna. This time one of them was to make up his mind regarding an engagement. The next day he came to see me, and proposed twenty performances in one of the first theatres of Budapesth. My friend was torehearse,begin-ning the nearest day. On that same day I had an interminable rehearsal with my Japanese actors, and I was detained from home until late in the afternoon. On returning to the hotel I learned that the dancer and her mother had gone to Vienna to give there an evening performance I had arranged for her before our departure. My orchestra leader accompanied them. I was, I must confess, a little surprised at the abruptness with which they left, but I thought no more about it until my orchestra leader returned.
  He came back alone. At first he evaded questions. Then he confessed that these ladies did not expect to rejoin me. I could not, and would not, believe him. 
   " Very well," he said. " These are the precise words which the mother uttered while we were on the train. ' Now that she has started you,' she said, to her daughter, ' you have no more use for her.' To which the daughter rephed, ' Well, I haven't the least desire to go back to Loie.' " When these ladies were ready to return to Budapesth they allowed my orchestra leader to go without sending any message to me.I telegraphed to find out if I was not to see them again. My тАвdancer rephed with a telegram so worded :" Only in case you will deposit to my credit ten thousand francs in a Viennese bank before nine o clock tomorrow morning."

This proceeding was all the more cruel as she knew that I had just lost more than one hundred thousand francs through a Viennese manager who had broken his contract with my Japanese com-pany. Besides, my expenses were very heavy and I was badly embarrassed. After I left Budapesth the dancer came there to fill the engagement I had secured for her. Then she went to Vienna and gave some performances there. I have been told that she went to all the people to whom I had presented her and asked them to take tickets. She thus disposed of seats amounting to some thousands of florins. Everybody was ready to help her, including the wife of the English ambassador and the Princess of Mettemich. Above all, I must have gained a reputation as an impostor, for my friend continued to appear in public in what I had called her practising gown.

Some years later at Brussels I learned that my dancer said to somebody who wanted to know whether she was acquainted with Loie Fuller that she did not know me.

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