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Body KnowledgePerformance, Intermediality, and American Entertainment at the Turn of the Twentieth Century$
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Mary Simonson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199898015

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199898015.001.0001

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Choreographing Salome: Re-creating the Female Body

Choreographing Salome: Re-creating the Female Body

(p.27) 1 Choreographing Salome: Re-creating the Female Body
Body Knowledge

Mary Simonson

Oxford University Press

In the years surrounding the premiere of Richard Strauss’s Salome at the Metropolitan Opera House, American vaudeville, dance, and film was flooded with Salome dancers of all stripes. This chapter explores a set of operatic and popular performances by Gertrude Hoffman, Bianca Froelich, Aida Overton Walker, and Mary Garden, among others. Emerging at the juncture of theatrical and operatic traditions, these Salomes entangle the working class with the elite, entertainment with uplift, naughtiness with promises of purity, power and emancipation with misogyny. The intermedial network of Salome performers that resulted enabled female performers to construct their own unique “visions” of both the character and her dance; these visions simultaneously reflected and helped to define American cultural shifts, anxieties, and tastes, particularly in relation to gender and class roles and the evolving trope(s) of the “New Woman.”

Keywords:   Salome, Richard Strauss, Aida Overton Walker, Mary Garden, Gertrude Hoffman, “New Woman”, intermediality, gender, vaudeville

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