On this day…9 April

On 9 April 1927 Lucia Joyce performed at the Théâtre du Vieux-Columbier.

At 5pm on Saturday 9 April 1927 Lucia Joyce performed in a Matinée de Danse at the Théâtre du Vieux-Columbier in Paris, in a piece called Prêtresse primitive (‘Primitive Priestess’).

From the age of fifteen, Lucia Joyce had been involved in various dance and movement classes under a number of instructors. Paris at the time was a major centre of both ballet and modern dance, and Lucia trained under some of the best dancers of the time. Her interest in dance took her outside the family circle and introduced her to new friends and a new life.

Her first teacher was Raymond Duncan (1874-1966), brother of the famous Isadora Duncan. He was a rather eccentric man who based the instruction at his Akademia on Greek music, movement and arts and crafts, and also made Greek-style togas in homespun cloth. Lucia Joyce attended the Jaques-Dalcroze Institute along with Helen Kiefer, a niece of the painter Myron Nutting, one of Joyce’s friends. Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950) developed techniques for joining the study of rhythm with movement that he called ‘eurhythmics.’

When the English dancer Margaret Morris (1891-1980) opened a studio in Paris in November 1925, Lucia decided to join. Lois Hutton was a Scottish gymnast who had been a teacher at Margaret Morris’ summer school in Juan-les-Pins in the south of France. Along with one of Morris’ students, Hélène Vanel, she set up the Studio rythme et couleur in the south of France. They also held classes in Paris, and they were responsible for organising the Matinée de Danse held in April 1927.

Hutton and Vanel called the group ‘Les Six de rythme et couleur,’ and among those who danced in this group were Kathleen Neel, Zdenka Podhajska, Yva Fernandez and Julia Tcherniz with whom Lucia Joyce became close friends. Kathleen ‘Kitten’ Neel even joined with Lucia Joyce in offering private lessons in physical training, and Eva Fernandez’s brother Emile was an early admirer of Lucia’s.


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – New and Revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Shloss, Carol Loeb: Lucia Joyce – To Dance in the Wake, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003.