As the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, a short-lived but extraordinary cultural phenomenon spread throughout Europe and the United States-"Salomania." The term was coined when biblical bad girl Salome was resurrected from the Old Testament and reborn on the modern stage in Oscar Wilde's 1893 playSalomeand in Richard Strauss's 1905 opera based on it. Salome quickly came to embody the turn-of-the-century concept of the femme fatale. She and the striptease Wilde created for her, "The Dance of the Seven Veils," soon captivated the popular imagination in performances on stages high and low, from the Metropolitan Opera to the Ziegfeld Follies.This book details for the first time the Salomania craze and four remarkable women who personified Salome and performed her seductive dance: Maud Allan, a Canadian modern dancer; Mata Hari, a Dutch spy; Ida Rubinstein, a Russian heiress; and French novelist Colette. Toni Bentley masterfully weaves the stories of these women together, showing how each embraced the persona of the femme fatale and transformed the misogynist idea of a dangerously sexual woman into a form of personal liberation. Bentley explores how Salome became a pop icon in Europe and America, how the real women who played her influenced the beginnings of modern dance, and how her striptease became in the twentieth century an act of glamorous empowerment and unlikely feminism.Sisters of Salomeis a dramatic account of an ancient myth played out onstage and in real life, at the fascinating edge where sex and art, desire and decency, merge.
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