Image: Kerry Laitala
Sound: Voicehandler, (Jacob Heule and Danishta Rivero)
This dual projector expanded cinema work was performed at Artists' Television Access on September 18th
with Live sound by Voicehandler. The dancer was Jenny Stulberg and the work is part of a series that was made in celebration of the centennial of the Panama Pacific International Exhibition.
Loie Fuller was present at the PPIE of 1915 and I stumbled across her biography while doing research on the innovative lighting techniques and illusions which were a part of the fair's spectacles to the attendees. Fuller created a costume that was specifically designed to capture light, and transform the human form into something quite magical and sometimes otherworldly. Many historians credit her with having been the first person to project moving colored lights onto a costume that could be in excess of 100 yards of material that she held aloft with long sticks held tightly in her hands. Fuller was able to patent her costume and held several patents on her innovative theatrical lighting designs. Fuller traveled with as many as a dozen lighting technicians who carefully guarded her secrets. One patent she held for theatrical lighting design included an under lighting pedestal that would shine up through her voluminous costume. This effect allowed her to literally disappear inside the folds of her dress becoming a lily or a butterfly or even a volcano and one of her most critically acclaimed dances was entitled the Fire Dance. She also had magic lantern slides projected onto her costume of micro-cellular organisms in addition to images of the moon. These dances coupled with her innovative lighting schemes created diaphanously elegant permutations that have inspired many dancers since the early 1890’s when she was discovered at the Folies Bergère in Paris. Fuller was at the PPIE with her dance troupe and helped to raise funds for the Palace of Fine Arts.
Techniques and innovations that Fuller patented and employed in her performances verged on the cinematic and included using a complex set up of mirrors as a back-drop, dancing against a black floor and background which was lit by a wheel of projected coloured lights, dancing over a glass trap-door lit by red light to create the sensation of being engulfed by flame in the finale of her Fire Dance (1895). As well as designing all of her own silk costumes, Fuller experimented with glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent paints and other toxic chemicals which caused her to become ill, and would unfortunately lead to her demise. Fuller and her work continue to be an influence on contemporary dancers such as Jody Sperling and Ann Cooper Albright who draw on Fuller's dances and effects for their own choreography.
This pastiche of dance choreography is the creation of Jenny Stulberg, with a cinematic interpretation by K. Laitala. Jenny is dancing on a specially constructed platform that was underlit in a similar fashion to one that La Loie would have used.
Voicehandler creates an original score that reverberates and mesmerizes, and surprisingly, is not mired by traditional notions of melody. This work transcends modern dance accompaniments through its uncanny rhythms and resonance.
The City Luminous Series of which Electric Salome was a part was Funded by a Princess Grace Foundation Special Projects Grant (2015)