The United States dancer Loie Fuller (1862–1928) found theatrical dance in the late nineteenth century artistically unfulfilling. She considered herself an artist rather than a mere entertainer, and she, in turn, attracted the notice of other artists.
Fuller devised a type of dance that focused on the shifting play of lights and colors on the voluminous skirts or draperies she wore, which she kept in constant motion principally through movements of her arms, sometimes extended with wands concealed under her costumes. She rejected the technical virtuosity of movement in ballet, the most prestigious form of theatrical dance at that time, perhaps because her formal dance training was minimal. Although her early theatrical career had included stints as an actress, she was not primarily interested in storytelling or expressing emotions through dance; the drama of her dancing emanated from her visual effects.
Although she discovered and introduced her art in the United States, she achieved her greatest glory in Paris, where she was engaged by the Folies Bergère in 1892 and soon became “La Loie,” the darling of Parisian audiences. Many of her dances represented elements or natural objects—Fire, the Lily, the Butterfly, and so on—and thus accorded well with the fashionable Art Nouveau style, which emphasized nature imagery and fluid, sinuous lines. Her dancing also attracted the attention of French poets and painters of the period, for it appealed to their liking for mystery, their belief in art for art’s sake, a nineteenth-century idea that art is valuable in itself rather than because it may have some moral or educational benefit, and their efforts to synthesize form and content.
Fuller had scientific leanings and constantly experimented with electrical lighting (which was then in its infancy), colored gels, slide projections, and other aspects of stage technology. She invented and patented special arrangements of mirrors and concocted chemical dyes for her draperies. Her interest in color and light paralleled the research of several artists of the period, notably the painter Seurat, famed for his Pointillist technique of creating a sense of shapes and light on canvas by applying extremely small dots of color rather than by painting lines. One of Fuller’s major inventions was underlighting, in which she stood on a pane of frosted glass illuminated from underneath. This was particularly effective in her Fire Dance (1895), performed to the music of Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.” The dance caught the eye of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who depicted it in a lithograph.
As her technological expertise grew more sophisticated, so did the other aspects of her dances. Although she gave little thought to music in her earliest dances, she later used scores by Gluck, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, and Wagner, eventually graduating to Stravinsky, Fauré, Debussy, and Mussorgsky, composers who were then considered progressive. She began to address more ambitious themes in her dances such as The Sea, in which her dancers invisibly agitated a huge expanse of silk, played upon by colored lights. Always open to scientific and technological innovations, she befriended the scientists Marie and Pierre Curie upon their discovery of radium and created a Radium Dance, which simulated the phosphorescence of that element. She both appeared in films—then in an early stage of development—and made them herself; the hero of her fairy-tale film Le Lys de la Vie (1919) was played by René Clair, later a leading French film director.
At the Paris Exposition in 1900, she had her own theater, where, in addition to her own dances, she presented pantomimes by the Japanese actress Sada Yocco. She assembled an all-female company at this time and established a school around 1908, but neither survived her. Although she is remembered today chiefly for her innovations in stage lighting, her activities also touched Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, two other United States dancers who were experimenting with new types of dance. She sponsored Duncan’s first appearance in Europe. Her theater at the Paris Exposition was visited by St. Denis, who found new ideas about stagecraft in Fuller’s work and fresh sources for her art in Sada Yocco’s plays. In 1924 St. Denis paid tribute to Fuller with the duet Valse à la Loie.
尽管她是在美国找到并呈现了她的艺术，她最大的成就在巴黎，在1892年她被Folies Bergere（一个巴黎剧院）所雇佣,而不久变成“La Loie”----巴黎观众的宠儿。因为她的很多舞蹈作品例如火，百合花，蝴蝶等等代表的都是一些元素或自然物体，所以它们与注重自然风景和流畅弯曲线条的时尚Art Nouveau的风格是一致的。她的舞蹈还吸引了当时法国的诗人和画家的注意，因为它符合他们对神秘色彩的喜好，他们对于艺术只为艺术产生的信仰----19世纪艺术被认为它的本身比它所带来的道德或教育利益更有价值，和他们对外形和内容的合成所做的研究努力。
富勒本人倾向于科学，所以经常试用电气灯光（电灯在那个时候才刚刚面市），染色胶，投影片，和其他方面的舞台技术。她对色彩和灯光的研究与当时几位艺术家相应，特别是在画布上以描绘极其细微的点来创造形状和光泽，而不是用线条的而著名的点彩派画家Seurat。富勒主要的发明之一是地面照明，意思是她站在一块毛玻璃上，而光是从下面照射上来的。这个发明尤其在她以Richard Wagner的“Ride of the Valkyries”作为背景音乐的作品火（1895）中起到了很大作用。这个舞蹈吸引了艺术家Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec的眼球，他把它在石版画中描绘了出来。
随着她的工艺技术变得更加成熟，也带动了她的舞蹈的其他方面。尽管在她在早期舞蹈作品中，没有花太多心思在音乐上，但随后她使用了Gluck, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin,和Wagner的乐曲，最后则变成了采用在当时被认为进步的一些作曲家的曲子，像Stravinsky, Fauré, Debussy, 和Mussorgsky。她开始强调更有野心的主题，比如作品大海，在这个作品中舞者们在色光灯所创造的辽阔的隐形丝绸下摇摆。因为富勒总是对科技创新抱有很开放的态度，她与科学家Marie和Pierre Curie在镭的研究中成为了朋友，并创造出了作品镭来模仿该元素的磷光。她也踏足了电影业----那个时候还处于早期发展中----她的电影都是自己制作拍摄的；在她的童话电影Le Lys de la Vie (1919)中饰演英雄角色的，是后来一名知名法国电影导演René Clair。
在1990年的巴黎展览会上，她得到了一个独立剧场，在那里，除了她自己的舞蹈，她还呈现了日本女演员Sada Yocco的哑剧。1908年左右，她成立了一个女子公司并建立了一所学校，但是哪个都没有成功。尽管她主要是被她所带来的舞台灯光革新所为人们熟知的，但她的事迹也与Isadora Duncan和Ruth St. Denis, 这两个当时尝试新型舞蹈的舞者有关。她赞助了Duncan在欧洲的首次亮相。St. Denis拜访了她在巴黎展览会的博物馆，他分别为Fuller的作品和她在Sada Yocco剧本的艺术作为找到了新的编剧想法和鲜活的来源。1924年，St. Denis对富勒的双人表演Valse à la Loie表达了赞赏。