Loie Fuller, the once famous American dancer living in France in the 1900s who became an overnight success in 1892, was in fact: "something of a paradox. A tall and lovely sylph in posters and sculptures, she was in reality a rather chubby woman with a fairly plain face. A dance innovator, she possessed no formal training in choreography. Eventually a cofounder of art museums, she had never even seen an art exhibit before going to Paris at the age of thirty."
It must have been a huge exercise in those days, over a century ago, to make one's living as a woman who's husband turned out not to be a bigamist, but a trigamist and she could only rely on herself. "What she did have, in addition to her winning ways, was a dauntless will to get ahead, together with enough intelligence, resourcefulness, and ingenuity to give effect to that will. These qualities were not only recognized but often admired by others, including the prominent art critic Arsene Alexandre, who in 1900 lauded her vitality and positive drive and proclaimed her to be a very pushing woman in the best sense of the word. The strength of these traits enabled her to keep going in the face of repeated disappointments and disasters."
(source quotes NYTimes)
So how did Loie develop her unique form of dance?
"Images were projected onto fabric through the use of calcium lights, drapery and magic lanterns (a type of early slide projector). Fountains lit with multi-coloured lights that she saw in Paris, as well as the skirt dances performed at London's Gaity Theatre all influenced her own presentations."