Loïs Hutton and Hélène Vanel met in 1921 at the Margaret Morris School in London’s Chelsea, learning dance from Margaret Morris and painting and sculpture from JD Fergusson. In 1924 they set up their own school, dance troupe and eventually a theatre in Saint Paul de Vence on the French Riviera. By the mid-1930s, Loïs and Hélène’s names were on the lips of the most glamorous people in the world, from Dali to the Duke of Windsor. Their extraordinary story plays out against the background of Paris, London and the Riviera, as the great movements of Modernity, Futurism, Expressionism and Surrealism came to mix with sex and snobbery in the earth-floored basement room of a half-ruined village house that was their theatre.
Who these two dancers were, how they achieved such fame, drawing only on their talent, resourcefulness and courage, and what happened to them, is the subject of this talk, a tale interwoven with two love stories: Loïs and Hélène’s love for each other and the Scottish Colourists’ enduring affair with the French Riviera.
Richard Emerson, who divides his time between the French Riviera and Edinburgh, has spent five years researching the lives of Loïs Hutton and Hélène Vanel, drawing particularly on the collections of the Fergusson Gallery, and his account of their lives, Rhythm and Colour, Hélène Vanel, Loïs Hutton and Margaret Morris, will be published by the Golden Hare Press in 2018.
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