A Love that is Intertwined

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A pair of long-lost lovers individually enter a room. No distractions of the outside world are present. No problems or anxieties are near. There is no one else but them. They walk up to one another slowly until they are face to face. As their eyes meet, a breathtaking sense of warmth and remembrance courses through them. Love is awakened once more. A hand tenderly grasps a waist. A hand tenderly grasps a shoulder. And a pair of hands unite. 

Woodwinds, horns, and stringed instruments begin to sound. The waltz of the lovers commences. They glide, they twirl, they are connected with a poignant touch. 

Camille Claudel’s sculpture, “The Waltz,” inspires me to imagine the story behind the two carved figures and their dance with one another. There is such beauty in the admirable artwork, as it conveys an eternal embracement of form and spirit . The smoothly sculpted arms embrace. The hands grasp onto one another in loving harmony. The heads lightly rest in the crevice of the other’s neck…

And a gown lightly blows in the motion of the waltz, slowly disintegrating, as the curving forms of movement merge as one.

As the waltz comes to an end, the lovers gaze into the eyes of the other once more and smile.

Image Credits: Musée Rodin

The Woman Behind the Painting…La Goulue

La Belle Époque, the “Beautiful Era” was a prosperous, modern, tantalizing period of French history. It was a period marked by technological, scientific, industrial advancement, as well as influential progression in the arts. During the Belle Époque, a new, vivacious world was brought to life…a world full of immensely cultural, golden glory. Joy and creativity were given the opportunity to thrive in a colorful, artistic atmosphere. Modern acts and thoughts were given the opportunity to dance and flirt among the throngs of entertainment. There was noise and there was laughter. There was optimism and there was brilliancy. There was art and there was dance. There was burlesque and there were courtesans.

There was Toulouse-Lautrec, there was the Moulin Rouge, and there was the wild, fearless can-can dancer, La Goulue.

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As mentioned in my post, Seductive Courtesans and a Can-Can Dance!, the Moulin Rouge was a dance hall, brothel, and theater full of pleasurable extravagancy. It was a place where people of all different backgrounds came together to experience the revolutions of society. The morals and boundaries of everyday society were blatantly ignored, as an undeniable elasticity ruled the dance floor. At the Moulin Rouge, youthful dancers moved across the floor with an aura of seduction and inspiration. These dancers came to life among the can-can rhythms and revealing high-kicks. They came to life in the rapidly transformative atmosphere. And one of these dancers was the famous, shameless “Queen of Montmartre,” La Goulue.

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Louise Weber, La Goulue was one of the most celebrated dancers at the Moulin Rouge. She had an outrageous spirit that was daring and outspoken. She had a personality that was captivating in its promiscuous charm. She had a strong passion for dance. Starting at a young age, Weber worked in a laundry with her mother, cleaning the garments of those more fortunate. However, Weber did not allow her laundress occupation stop her from dancing and fantasizing a life for herself in the dance halls of no rules, of transforming roles in society. Behind her mother’s back, Weber borrowed the garments left at the laundry by customers and went at night to the world where she truly belonged, the world of movement and dance. Dancing on tables in small clubs around Paris, flipping off mens hats with her toes, charming audiences with her fearless power and stance, lifting her skirts to reveal a heart embroidered on her underwear, gaining the attractions of the painter Auguste Renoir, and downing the contents of nearby customers drinks, Louise Weber became “the Glutton,” La Goulue.

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When the Moulin Rouge first opened, La Goulue was there with her dance partner Jacques Renaudin, otherwise known as the very flexible “Valentin le Desosse,” ready to shine under the flashy dance floor. Performing the “chahut,” an early form of the can-can, La Goulue became a permanent headliner of the dance hall. She became a seductive sensation, a wild woman of fame. She was the highest paid entertainer of her day, gaining her earnings based on her captivating audaciousness and exciting movement. She was a dancer of much interest, becoming one of the favorites of Toulouse-Lautrec, the artist, who immortalized La Goulue in his many works of her. Toulouse- Lautrec was overcome with the beauty and energy of the bohemian lifestyle of Montmartre. He was enraptured by the thrilling theatrical sights around him, more specifically the provocative moments in the fashionable Moulin Rouge. A regular at the dance hall, Lautrec captured the setting and the dancers in many unique, telling artistic pieces, whether they be prints, paintings, or illustrations. With much talent, he captured the essence of La Goulue, her spontaneity and proudness, her character and her spirit.

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Using his style of simplicity, Lautrec depicted La Goulue and her partner on this boldly minimized, colored advertising poster for the Moulin Rouge. With darkened silhouettes surrounding her dancing form, all attention is focused on La Goulue, her star power, and her thrilling allure. And the simple fashions help add to this allure as well. With bright white petticoats lifted vivaciously in the air, with a dazzling poked dotted top and maroon stockings, La Goulue is shown as the woman she always was, a woman who lived freely, without constraint. A woman who danced with a gaiety that was hard to turn away from, who danced a magical dance that was impossible to erase from memory. The fancier apparels around her do not faze her–she still moves without a care in the world. She defiantly appears to all that surround her. Her salacious livelihood and her originality dance with a risqué, revealing quality.

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Through the doors of the Moulin Rouge, Toulouse-Lautrec could be spotted capturing fascinating moments of activity…

And La Goulue could be spotted dancing with a wonderful freedom.

Foolishness is Preferred!

On the busy city street, a sign indicates a theater of dazzling culture, outspoken diversity, seductive creativity, and unmistakable genius.

This significant theater is marked with expression, freedom, and imagination. An elaborate idea, inspired by the Folies Bergere of Paris, is set. A remarkably beautiful design, inspired by the talented minds of many, is absorbed. Energy, enthusiasm, and thrill caress the eager atmosphere, as breathtaking exhilaration and exaggeration laugh in delight. In a sudden, united movement, a group of young girls enter through the back curtain of the stage. These significant beauties and flapper queens relish in scandal and flirtatious behavior. They dance the Charleston until the early morning hours, drink illegal liquor when they wish, wear ravishing fashions of knee-bearing appeal, and tantalize men with joy and passion. They begin to tap their wild feet on the stage, wearing elaborate headdresses and irresistible costumes. They reveal their bodies and souls proudly. They delight with their desires, hopes, and dreams. They move their bodies freely and with no constraint. They look out into the world of the 1920s and smile in delight.

In this setting, the beauties of theater and flapper come together. The beauties of stage design and vivacity create a unique, jazzy universe. The beauties of design and immorality shine under the bright lights.

On the street, the sign for this theater reads, “Ziegfeld Follies,”…let the show begin!

The Ziegfeld Follies was a series of remarkable theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 to 1931. These elaborate, high-end vaudeville shows were simply spectacular. They dared to seduce; they dared to shine; they dared to challenge; they dared to entertain. Started by the great Florenz Ziegfeld, Ziegfeld Follies went against moral constraints and Victorian conventionalities. No longer was timidity accepted and preferred–the mundane, unrevealing lifestyle of women disappeared. Instead, the 1920s culture of independence, diversity, and immodesty soared. And the Follies soared as well.

The Ziegfeld Follies encompassed the attractions of dance, song, and variety. With talents such as W.C. Fields, Josephine Baker, Fanny Brice, Louise Brooks, and the Dolly Sisters, the Ziegfeld Follies basked in their glorious world of proud defiance and provocative thrill. Comedy sketches, exaggerated dance numbers, mesmerizing tunes, and a swarm of beautiful chorus girls, known as the Ziegfeld girls…the Ziegfeld Follies was a lively, daring spectacle.

One of the key components of the Ziegfeld Follies was its gorgeous, promiscuous costume fashions. These costumes garnered much attention with their detailed artistry and suggestive edge. Designers, such as Erté and Lady Duff Gordon, created these magnificent artworks of sparkle and shimmer. These designers had a clever imagination, an eye for luxury, and an innovative outlook on the world. They designed based on newfound freedom, ready acceptance, and sensuous beauty. They designed based on an attractive, changing century of individual rights.

These intricate, luxurious, and impressive costumes radiated on the stage. They enraptured the minds and captured the eyes of many. They glittered in the theatrical quality of inviting warmth. They adored a glitzy feminine appeal of extravagance and attractiveness.

The 1920s elements of opulence and creativity were absorbed in the tempting designs showy sequins, inviting tassels, lush velvet, satin, and sheer textures, and ruffled, feathered accents. The costumes were loudly attractive and unforgettably bold. They were colorfully glamorous and culturally stimulating.  From ballet tutus to bird-like dresses, from dazzling international designs to strong regal fashions, from revealing bikini tops and short bottoms to Art Deco wearable art pieces, from Egyptian styles to Aztec prints, from extraordinary headpieces to dainty, wealthy pearls…the fashions of the Ziegfeld Follies had a witty charm, a passionate aura, and a stunning irresistibility.

The bright stage is gazed at by curious, excited audience members. The night is filled with happiness and adventure…

With the sounds of the brilliant Eddie Cantor playing, with the fashions of talented designers dancing to the beat, with the attitudes of the fascinating Ziegfeld Girls shining in bold power and enticing mystery, the Ziegfeld Follies comes to life!

Seductive Courtesans and a Can-Can Dance!

Lights, entertainment, and romance–Paris is a city of immense beauty and intelligence! Traveling to Paris, one can take in the beautiful sight of the Eiffel Tower or debate artistic wonders in the Louvre. However, there is one location in Paris that truly speaks volumes to me in a way that is deeply unforgettable. With a red windmill on its roof, this location is called the Moulin Rouge.

Lets travel back in time to the year 1889, a year of progress and innovation. Paris was (and still is, may I add) a city of dreams. It was ablaze with trade, tourism, and wealth. Enlightened men and women let their minds roam free, as the city advanced culturally, artistically, and technologically. Let’s also though look back at one specific location that opened in the chilly month of October, 1889 on Paris’s lively streets. Called the Moulin Rouge, this brand new music hall was far from chilly. It was filled with laughter, warmth, and exhiliration! The city of Paris was abuzz concerning the opening of what would become one of the most famous cabarets in the world. It’s nickname was “Le Premier Palais des Femmes”- The First Palace of Women. And it most certainly was!

The Moulin Rouge was a flexible dance hall, brothel, and theater. With animated music and dramatics, the Moulin Rouge was a place where morals were abandoned and restrictions were ignored. A new, imaginative world emerged that overcame reality. Young Parisian women danced the Can-Can as optimistic, extravagant shows went on through the night. Unique, entertaining dance moves and aerobatic tricks of high-kicks, cartwheels, and splits brought the colorful theater to life!

As the actions in the theater were fun and inviting, the fashions in the theater were daring and unconstrained! This scandalous place brought forth fantastic costumes with feathers, rhinestones, and sequins. The young Can-Can dancers wore expressive, bright outfits that were theatrically electrifying. Bustiers and layered tulle skirts, the Moulin Rouge was a place where fashion was deliberately sexy! With a theme of “fin de siècle chic,” the fashion of the Moulin Rouge exhibited anticipation for the progressive future. It was energetic, luxurious, and had an undeniable attractive thrill!

The Moulin Rouge was and still is a place of fashion, freedom, adventure, and celebration! Laughter and cheers mix into its captivating appeal and atmosphere. The Moulin Rouge was not simply a place where women danced and music played. It was a place where a new culture pushed forward–a culture where men and women alike enjoyed life and reveled in merriment, love, and excitement!