Uploaded on Feb 23, 2009
The Dancing Girl! Mata Hari danced with strength, and exhibited great personal power and courage, during a time when women were offered fewer options than men, and the human form had not yet been liberated as art or otherwise.
The mother of expressive originality in Performance Art.
The reason why we can comfortably, legally, wear swimsuits at the beach, in modern times!
Born in The Netherlands 1876-1924. Mata Hari was the first woman in the 20th century to achieve "Celebrity" status. She was an exotic dancer, artist, actress, singer, writer and poet. Mata Hari brought us the precursor to Modern Stage Dance. She was also the first woman to bring Traditional Eastern 'Belly' Dancing to the West. She is rumored as the first woman to successfully turn semi-nude dancing into a tasteful art. (She wore a body stocking).
Very famous and celebrated across Europe, Mata Hari performed everywhere: India, Egypt, Madrid, Paris, Milan, Vienna, Berlin. Her Performance: The costumes, settings, atmospheres, and her dancing, were collectively a work of brilliance. She danced smooth as silk; Owning her movements, and rhythm.
Mata Hari helped pave the way for the entertainer, just years shy of the silent film and electrically recorded music.
Mata Hari was a famous advocate for the Women's Vote, Equal Rights, and World Peace.
Mata Hari is rumored to have had the misfortune of being seen conversing with a man on a train during a journey from Germany to France, who claimed to be a fan but in fact, was a spy. According to this rumor, she was arrested under suspicion and her luggage seized. The man insisted on being a devout fan, and wanted to compensate for missing items of value when her luggage was returned. In taking the money, suspicion grew. This myth aside, all that can actually be proven, is that Mata Hari was detained at the train station during heightened war-time security, without any cause for arrest at all. She is said to have passed away 8 years afterward, in London. Apparently, the media used the circumstances to make a sensationalized example out of her persona, so that the public would think things were under control near the close of WWI. Not to mention an interesting tale of fiction! There is no evidence of a trial, and none of an execution. There is no death certificate for 1917 in her name. No legal documents to support the rumors. In a 1920 silent film, an actress mildly resembling Mata Hari, was used for an execution scene. A photograph was taken from a far distance of the actress without blindfold. Many mistake this for an actual execution photo. Mata Hari's passport photo was used as a "mug shot". This final theatrical display all but ruined Mata Hari's reputation as an inventive dancer, and instead she'd be remembered as a spy; A story that is strictly tabloid and Hollywood fantasy.
To add insult to injury, rumors that Mata Hari was a courtesan were also circulated. These rumors are unfounded and untrue. Mata Hari was from a respectable upper class family. She was successful financially in her own right. Rumors that her father "lost everything" aren't true either. Her family left The Netherlands and moved to Ireland when Mata Hari was 13 years old.
It is speculated that it was not understood at the time, that the now infamous tabloid gossip was indeed actually referring to the woman born as Margarete Gertrud Zelle. By 1917 there were several copy-cat artists, some even used her stage name, "Mata Hari".
Copyright 2012, C. Meadows. All Rights Reserved. Watch for the full story coming soon.
Note: One thing I strongly dislike is that the most flattering photographs from Mata Hari's life are mainly unavailable. I hope that they will be made available in the future.