chapter  2
29 Pages

Unnatural acts, female strongmen

Aerial acts of strength, daring and speed by females were out-performing male acts by 1880, and female identity was central to the impact of these major attractions. Adolescents potentially excel in aerial athleticism as they do in sport, and young female performers in particular were trained to do spectacular performances because they also made the action seem more remarkable to nineteenth-century audiences. Their performance identities utilized descriptive and visual symbols from history and mythology, and of nationality, to garner public affection.