Female Aerialists in the 1920s and Early 1930s
Femininity, Celebrity, and Glamour
- Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 30, 2021
Female solo aerialists of the 1920s and early 1930s were internationally popular performers in the largest live mass entertainment of the period in the UK and USA. Yet these aerialists and this period in circus history have been largely forgotten despite the iconic image of ‘the’ female aerialist still flaring in the popular imagination.
Kate Holmes uses insights gained as a practitioner to reconstruct in detail the British and American performances and public personae of key stars such as Lillian Leitzel, Luisita Leers and the Flying Codonas, revealing what is performed and implicit in today’s practice. Using a wealth of original sources this book considers the forgotten stars whose legacy the cultural image of the female aerialist echoes. Locating performers within wider cultural histories of sport, glamour and gender, this book asks important questions about their stardom, including: Why were female aerialists so alluring when their muscularity challenged conservative ideals of femininity and how did they participate in change? What was it about their movements and the spaces they performed in that activated such strong audience responses?
This book is vital reading for students and practitioners of aerial performance, circus, gender, popular performance, and performance studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Producing Allure & Popularity
Chapter One: Democratising Experience: Diverse Transformative Performance Spaces
Chapter Two: To Glamour: A Kinaesthetic Fantasy of Weightlessness
Chapter Three: Skillful Vulnerability: Showmanship & the Performance of Skill & Risk
Chapter Four: Performing & Negotiating Muscular Femininity: Aerial Celebrity & the Modern Girl
Chapter Five: Absorbing Activity into Femininity: Moving & Exercising Female Bodies
Conclusion: Updating Aerial Celebrity & Re-evaluating Practice
Kate Holmes is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Exeter. Her aerial research explores historical audience experience from a practitioner-perspective, using approaches that include examining space, gender, and exercise history. Her research has appeared in journals including New Theatre Quarterly and Early Popular Visual Culture and edited collections.