Home: Overview: Biographies: Jane Avril

Jane Avril was a contrast of La Goulue. She was slender, elegant, refined; she had a long pale face, blue eyes, and red hair. She wasn't a beauty; her face was worn and heavy, and she had a pensive expression. Like La Goulue, she wasn't beautiful. Her face was worn and heavy, and she had a pensive expression. She had a charm of the fragile and the attraction of nervous energy. La Goulue overshadowed her as well as all the other dancers. Avril danced with delicacy and aimed to be more expressive instead of tantalizing the audience with bare flesh or physical feats. She would whirl her legs sideways, instead of high kicking, in dainty motions that grew into a nervous frenzy.

Avril was an illegitimate child whose father walked out when she was two. She lived with her mothers parents until she was eight when she moved back to her cruel, sluttish mother. Her mother beat her and forced her to sing and beg in the streets. She read many books and practiced all kinds of dance moves. In her early teens, she was a nervous wreck. She had unconquerable phobias, a facial tic, and sometimes lost all her reason. She was put into a mental hospital by a friend and cured. She went back to her mother who again treated her badly. In 1885, she came close to having a nervous breakdown, so she ran away at the age of seventeen. With the help of protectors and some petty jobs, she survived the next four years. She became an ecuyere at the Hippodrome before being spotted by Zidler, who enlisted her to perform at the Moulin Rouge. She became close friends with Toulouse-Lautrec. They both understood each others rough childhood. She modeled for him, and they were friends until Toulouse-Lautrec died.

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