Modernism and the Choreographic Imagination: Salome's Dance after 1890

Megan Girdwood

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract / Description of output

Ranging from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, this book examines literary and choreographic representations of the figure of Salome, the biblical woman who danced for the head of St John the Baptist. The age of modernism witnessed an extraordinary cross-fertilisation of the arts of literature and dance, grounded in a shared appetite for formal experimentation and inter-related ideas about the representational capacities of the performing body. Following her conspicuous revival in the nineteenth-century French Symbolist movement, Salome became a focal point for these recurring interplays between text and performance, inspiring an unprecedented corpus of plays, fictions, paintings, dance performances, and silent films devoted to her ‘dance of the seven veils’. This book considers how Salome’s dancing body, across its numerous modernist iterations, framed critical questions about inter-arts collaboration, influence, aesthetic autonomy, and the porousness of different disciplines, thereby unsettling more traditional views of aesthetic hierarchies and related assumptions about female creative agency. Following salient versions of Salome from fin-de-siècle music halls and avant-garde theatres to the projects of the Ballets Russes, female film pioneers, and modernist playwrights, this book considers canonical authors such as Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett, as well as lesser-known but crucially influential performers, from the modern dancers Loïe Fuller and Maud Allan, to Ida Rubinstein, Alla Nazimova, and Ninette de Valois.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages251
ISBN (Electronic)9781474481656, 9781474481649
ISBN (Print)9781474481625, 9781474481632
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021

Publication series

NameEdinburgh Critical Studies in Modernism, Drama and Performance
PublisherEdinburgh University Press

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • modernism
  • dance
  • performance
  • silent film
  • modernist theatre
  • Salome
  • literature
  • symbolism


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