(via Too Gallant: Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril: Beyond the Moulin Rouge)
Jane Avril’s flinchingly high kick on the poster for her Jardin de Paris performance is perhaps the most defining image of turn-of-the-century Paris. Even at the time, Avril credited the Toulouse-Lautrec designed poster with launching her career, and now it’s become one of the most widely reproduced posters of all time.
However most peoples’ knowledge of the enigmatic dancer largely ends here … The daughter of an abusive alcoholic courtesan, Avril (then Jeanne Richepin) fled home aged thirteen only to be incarcerated in a mental asylum.
She was diagnosed with Syndenham’s chorea, a condition characterised by the rapid, jerking movements of the hands and feet. At one of the balls held for hospital patients, however, she astounded her doctors and fellow patients with her dancing: Avril channelled her ailment into the medium of dance, explaining her infamous eccentric style and later earning her the nickname La Mélinite (after a powerful form of explosive).
how come we never hear these stories? how come we are constantly erasing disability and people with disabilities lives from history? i was just having this conversation after actually having my jaw drop when i was in a room of art buffs who all claimed to know and love frida kahlo’s work and life… and were trying to DEBATE with me that she didn’t have disabilities.