Since I saw an article about Vali Myers in a women’s magazine when I was in primary school I have been intrigued by women who went against the ethos of their times. I certainly wouldn’t say these people have been role models for me, but I guess I am slightly weird and have an odd combination of interests for someone my gender and age (LOL), so they have struck a chord with me.
A little later in life I came across the story of Isadora Duncan, the dancer who died when her long scarf strangled her in a car accident. It seemed bizarre that all I knew of her was related to her death, not her life, so I explored her occupation and interests. She turned out to be very unusual, having started a free-form dance movement way back before most people knew anything except classical ballet and ballroom dancing. She was also creative in other endeavours such as drama and socio-political movements. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isadora_Duncan. Tragically, although she had three children, none lived through childhood. Her first two children, just like their mother, were also killed via an automobile- by drowning in the Seine while the driver was fetching a crank to restart the engine after an accident. Isadora died in Nice, France as a Soviet citizen and was interred in the USA, her birthplace. I’ll find some more to give a greater breadth to her life and interests.
From what I remember of this Vali person she was a strange artist and dancer who lived in Italy. She had extremely strange tattoos on her face, unlike anyone I have seen before or since. Having been born in New Zealand, I was used to the facial markings of Maori people and Vali Myers was NOT like them. I chased up a bit more information on this woman when I was about 11 or 12 and obtained access to the adult borrowing section of the local council library (no, not the “ADULT” section, silly). My first discovery was that she was associated with gypsies and made intricate drawings which looked like dreams and nightmares. Now when I look at her drawings, they look like elaborate tattoos rather than paintings of the conventional sort. I came across scattered info about her over the years,
but nothing that gave a full view of the different aspects of her life and character. Prints of some of her works are available through Outre Gallery. http://www.outregallery.com
Another woman whom I came across merely because she has a similar name to Vali Myers is the French dancer, Yvonne Vallee. She was a dancer who caught the eye of producers needing a partner for Maurice Chevalier in a revue. She made him a great partner and they later married, staying together for 8 years. She lived to the grand old age of 96. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yvonne_Vallee
Only yesterday I came across another woman via a fashion blog whom I am amazed to have missed previously on my travels through libraries and the Internet! She is Anita Berber, a dancer and actress who sadly took up dangerous habits and died of tuberculosis aged only 29. Anita was a German dancer, actor and writer who seemed to live through a haze of cocaine and sex, wasting her considerable talents in dying so young. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anita_Berber.
So- all very unusual individuals, known for their own characteristics and achievements rather than those of their husbands or partners.