Elements of Loïe Fuller @ Dance Base

<strong>Time Lapse Dance</strong> introduce “visual-kinetic” theatre to UK audiences

Feature by Laurin Campbell | 06 Aug 2010

In Elements of Loïe Fuller, Jody Sperling creates an entrancing display of constantly evolving optical delight as she flows and spirals through the elements of earth, water, wind, fire and ether, dressed in 100 yards of silk.

“The work I do is extremely visual, but I am not interested in static ‘pictures’. It is visceral, unfolding, morphing, shape-shifting, evolving, erupting, exploding visual stimuli that interest me. There is almost nothing more visually entrancing than coloured lights on moving fabric,” explains Sperling. “The ‘kinetic’ comes from my dance impulse. The urge - the need - to move is what drives me as a choreographer. When you move through space, you displace air and create a wake of spiralling eddies around your body. What the fabric does is render these vortices visible to the eye. The lighting helps sculpt and colour the impression of the movement.”

For the celebrations of the centenary of the US Library of Congress, Sperling collaborated on The Butterfly Dance, a piece made in the style of early modern dance icon Loïe Fuller. Being fascinated by the sensations of the costume she had worn, especially its 14’ wingspan, she began to experiment with her own Loïe-inspired works, exploring “the body's expansion into space using silk as a primary medium.” Elements of Loïe Fuller is the expression of visual and dynamic contrasts resulting from her experimentations.

Sperling uses carefully chosen and clearly defined terminology when describing her work. “I use the word re-imagine, in contrast to the word ‘reconstruct’ which is the dominant word people use to talk about reviving dances from the past.” In Sperling’s pieces she embraces the techniques and technologies available to present-day practitioners while maintaining the essence of Fuller. “I don't do literal ‘reconstructions’ of Fuller's dances - I'm using the genre she created as a springboard for new choreography. There are no films of Fuller, and there is no record of her ‘steps’, so to understand the impact of her work, you really have to use your imagination.”

Elements of Loïe Fuller takes the audience on a journey through a range of atmospheres and emotions, conjuring a sense of pure aesthetic enjoyment. “When I move in my ‘Loïe’ costume, I often have the impression that I am rendering in 3D form the auditory vibrations pulsing through the air. Kandinsky, the Russian artist and theorist, has a beautiful theory about how colour and music create vibrations which penetrate the soul. I think there is something to his idea. The artful fusion of vibrations of light, music and fabric are what made Fuller's art so powerful and why the genre still has resonance today.”


Elements of Loïe Fuller – Jody Sperling, Time Lapse Dance, Dance Base, Aug 11-22 (exc. 16), £5