As research for the novel I’ve been working on, I read a tons of books about dance last year (such a hardship, ha!). One was the fascinating Lucia Joyce: To Dance in her Wake by Carol Loeb Schloss.
It inspired me to try and write an essay but I realised Schloss had done a much better job of saying the things that needed said about the talented daughter of James Joyce so I picked up some charcoal and draw a few pictures with just a short few paragraphs instead. I totally recommend To Dance in her Wake, it’s well work a read.
Impassioned dancer, inspired costume designer, reluctant illustrator, post-modern thinker – Lucia Joyce was many things. She was also the daughter of one of the great names of literature.
To Joyce, Lucia remained a treasure. Even when he demanded she leave the stage and a combination of thwarted ambitions, suppressed talents and unfortunate events strained her nerves.
Career stalled, emotions scrutinised, potential avenues blocked, Lucia’s potential was squandered for another form of art. To some of his fans, Lucia became a danger. Not to herself or to others but to her father’s work. She spent 50 years of her life in a variety of institutions and while her father’s WIP finally came to fruition, her ambitions did not.
She’s since been remembered and reclaimed by some but dance, unlike literature, is only ever truly experience in the moment. One passion cannot be exchanged for another. Sadly, one artist could easily be sacrificed for another.