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Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan was born in Oakland, California in 1877. Her mother was an accomplished pianist who introduced her to the great composers, whose music later inspired Isadora’s creation of a new dance form.

Isadora’s dream was to teach children who would then continue to teach others. This was more important to her than performances, although performing was important as a motivating force and also to help finance her school. One of her objectives was to obtain government support for the school. The first and only government to sponsor her work was the Soviet Union, and this support lasted approximately ten years.

Duncan was a pioneer of 20th-century American dance. She is often credited with moving dance away from strict formal structures and toward more free-flowing forms of personal expression. She wore Grecian-style gowns, often performed barefoot, and startled audiences by employing such everyday human movements as skipping and running. Duncan is also remembered as an early feminist; among other things, she did not believe in marriage and bore two children out of wedlock by two different men. She was killed in a freak 1927 accident when her scarf became tangled in the rear axle of her automobile.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Birth name Angela Isadora Duncan
Born May 27, 1877
San Francisco, California, United States
Died September 14, 1927 (aged 50)
Nice, France
Nationality American, Russian
Field Dance & choreography
Movement Modern/Contemporary dance

Angela Isadora Duncan (May 27, 1877 – September 14, 1927) was an American dancer. Born in California, she lived in Western Europe and the Soviet Union from the age of 22 until her death at age 50. She performed to acclaim throughout Europe after being exiled from the United States for her pro-Soviet sympathies.

Duncan's fondness for flowing scarves contributed to her death in an automobile accident in Nice, France, when she was a passenger in an Amilcar. Her silk scarf, draped around her neck, became entangled around the open-spoked wheels and rear axle, breaking her neck.[1] In 1987, she was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame.

Early life

Angela Isadora Duncan was born in San Francisco, California to Joseph Charles Duncan (1819–1898), a banker, mining engineer and connoisseur of the arts, and Mary Isadora Gray (1849–1922). Duncan was the youngest of four children. Her two brothers were Augustin Duncan and Raymond Duncan; her sister Elizabeth Duncan was also a dancer. Soon after Isadora's birth, her father lost the bank and he was publicly disgraced and the family became extremely poor.

Her parents were divorced by 1889 (the papers were lost in the San Francisco earthquake), and her mother moved with her family to Oakland. She worked there as a pianist and music teacher. In her early years, Duncan did attend school but, finding it to be constricting to her individuality, she dropped out. As her family was very poor, both she and her sister gave dance classes to local children to earn extra money.

In 1896 Duncan became part of Augustin Daly's theater company in New York. She soon became disillusioned with the form. Her father, along with his third wife and their daughter, died in the 1898 sinking of the British passenger steamer SS Mohegan.


Duncan began her dancing career by teaching lessons in her home from the time she was six through her teenage years. Her different approach to dance is evident in these preliminary classes, in which she “followed [her] fantasy and improvised, teaching any pretty thing that came into [her] head”.[2] A desire to travel brought Duncan to Chicago where she auditioned for many theater companies, finally finding a place in Augustin Daly's company. This job took her to New York City where her unique vision of dance clashed with the popular pantomimes of theater companies.[3] Feeling unhappy and limited with her work in Daly’s company and with American audiences, Duncan decided to move to London in 1898. There she found work performing in the drawing rooms of the wealthy and inspiration from the Greek vases and bas-reliefs in the British Museum.[4] The money she earned from these engagements allowed her to rent a dance studio to develop her work and create larger performances for the stage.[5] From London, Duncan traveled to Paris, where she drew inspiration from the Louvre and the Exposition Universelle of 1900.[6]

One day in 1902, Loie Fuller visited Duncan’s studio and invited Duncan to tour with her. This took Duncan all over Europe creating new works using her innovative dance technique.[7] This style consisted of a focus on natural movement instead of the rigid technique of ballet.[8] She spent most of the rest of her life in this manner, touring in Europe as well as North and South America, where she performed to mixed critical reviews.[9] Despite the critics’ mixed reactions, she became quite popular for her distinct style and inspired many visual artists, such as Antoine Bourdelle, Auguste Rodin, and Abraham Walkowitz, to create works based on her.[10]

Duncan disliked the commercial aspects of public performance like touring and contracts because she felt they distracted her from her real mission: the creation of beauty and the education of the young. To achieve her mission, she opened schools to teach young women her dance philosophy. The first was established in 1904 in Grunewald, Germany. This institution was the birthplace of the "Isadorables" – Anna, Maria-Theresa, Irma, Lisel, Gretel, Erika, Isabelle and Temple (Isadora's niece)[11] – Duncan’s protegees, who would go on to continue her legacy.[12] Later, Duncan established a school in Paris that was shortly closed due to the outbreak of World War I.[13]

In 1914, Duncan moved to the United States and transferred the school there. A townhouse on Gramercy Park was provided for its use, and its studio was nearby, on the northeast corner of 23rd Street and Fourth Avenue, which is now Park Avenue South.[14] Otto Kahn, the head of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. gave Duncan use of the very modern Century Theatre at West 60th Street and Central Park West for her performances and productions, which included a staging of Oedipus Rex, which involved almost all of Duncan's extended entourage and friends.[15]

Duncan had been due to leave the US in 1915 on board the RMS Lusitania on the voyage on which it sank, but historians believe her financial situation at the time drove her to choose a more modest crossing.[16] In 1921, her leftist sympathies took her to the Soviet Union where she founded a school in Moscow. However, the Soviet government’s failure to follow through on promises to support her work caused her to move West and leave the school to Irma.[17]


Duncan’s philosophy of dance moved away from rigid ballet technique and towards what she perceived as natural movement. To restore dance to a high art form instead of entertainment, she sought the connection between emotions and movement: “I spent long days and nights in the studio seeking that dance which might be the divine expression of the human spirit through the medium of the body’s movement.”[18] Duncan took inspiration from ancient Greece and combined it with an American love of freedom. This is exemplified in her revolutionary costume of a white Grecian tunic and bare feet. Inspired by Grecian forms, her tunics also allowed a freedom of movement corseted ballet costumes and pointe shoes did not.[19] Costumes were not the only inspiration Duncan took from Greece. She was very inspired by ancient Greek art and utilized some of those forms in her movement (see image).[20]

Duncan wrote of American dancing: “let them come forth with great strides, leaps and bounds, with lifted forehead and far-spread arms, to dance.”[21] Her focus on natural movement emphasized steps, such as skipping, outside of codified ballet technique. Duncan also cites the sea as an early inspiration for her movement.[22] Also, she believed movement originated from the solar plexus, which she thought was the source of all movement.[18] It was this philosophy and new dance technique that garnered Duncan the title of the creator of modern dance.

Personal life

Both in her professional and private lives, Duncan flouted traditional mores and morality. She was bisexual,[23] and alluded to her Communism during her last United States tour, in 1922–23; Duncan waved a red scarf and bared her breast on stage in Boston, proclaiming, "This is red! So am I!"[24]

Duncan bore two children, both out of wedlock – the first, Deirdre (born September 24, 1906), by theatre designer Gordon Craig, and the second, Patrick (born May 1, 1910),[25] by Paris Singer, one of the many sons of sewing machine magnate Isaac Singer. Both children died in an accident on the Seine River on April 19, 1913. The children were in the car with their nurse, returning home after lunch with Isadora and Paris Singer. The driver stalled the car while attempting to avoid a collision with another car. He got out to hand-crank the engine, but forgot to set the parking brake. The car rolled across the Boulevard Bourdon, down the embankment and into the river. The children and the nanny drowned.[25]

Following the accident, Duncan spent several months recuperating in Corfu with her brother and sister. After this, she spent several weeks at the Viareggio seaside resort with actress Eleonora Duse. The fact that Duse had just left a relationship with the rebellious young lesbian feminist Lina Poletti fueled speculation as to the nature of Duncan and Duse's relationship, but there has never been definite proof that the two were involved romantically.[26] In her autobiography, Duncan relates that she begged a young Italian stranger — the sculptor Romano Romanelli[27] — to sleep with her because of her desperation to have another baby. She did become pregnant after the deaths of her elder two children. She gave birth to a son, who lived only a few hours and was never named.

In 1922 she married the Russian poet Sergei Yesenin who was 18 years her junior. Yesenin accompanied her on a tour of Europe and the United States. The following year he left Duncan and returned to Moscow. He committed suicide in 1925, aged 30.

Duncan had an affair with poet and playwright Mercedes de Acosta which is documented in numerous revealing letters they wrote to each other.[28] In one she wrote, "Mercedes, lead me with your little strong hands and I will follow you—to the top of a mountain. To the end of the world. Wherever you wish."[29]

Later life

By the end of her life Duncan's performing career had dwindled and she became as notorious for her financial woes, scandalous love life and all-too-frequent public drunkenness as for her contributions to the arts. She spent her final years moving between Paris and the Mediterranean, running up debts at hotels. She spent short periods in apartments rented on her behalf by a decreasing number of friends and supporters, many of whom attempted to assist her in writing an autobiography. They hoped it might be successful enough to support her. In a reminiscent sketch, Zelda Fitzgerald recalled how she and her husband sat in a Paris cafe watching a somewhat drunk Duncan. He would speak of how memorable it was, but what Zelda recalled was that while all eyes were watching Duncan, Zelda was able to steal the salt and pepper shakers from the table.[30]

In his book Isadora, an Intimate Portrait, Sewell Stokes, who met Duncan in the last years of her life, describes her extravagant waywardness. Duncan's autobiography My Life was published in 1927. Composer Percy Grainger called Isadora's autobiography a "life-enriching masterpiece."[31]


Duncan's fondness for flowing scarves was a contributing factor to her death in an automobile accident in Nice, France, at the age of 50. The shawl was hand-painted silk by the Russian-born artist Roman Chatov, and was a gift from her friend Mary Desti, the mother of American film director Preston Sturges. Desti, who saw Duncan off, reported that she had asked Duncan to wear a cape because it was cold out, and the car was an open-air one, but Duncan would only agree to wear the shawl.[32]

On the night of September 14, 1927, Duncan was a passenger in the Amilcar automobile of a French-Italian mechanic Benoit Falchetto, whom she had nicknamed "Buggatti" [sic]. - thus the reason that many writers have erroneously said she was killed in a Bugatti car.

Before getting into the car, she reportedly said to her friend Desti and some companions, "Adieu, mes amis. Je vais a la gloire!" ("Farewell, my friends. I go to glory!"), however, according to American novelist Glenway Wescott, who was in Nice at the time and visited Duncan's body in the morgue, Desti admitted that she had lied about Duncan's last words. Instead, she told Wescott, Duncan said, "Je vais a l'amour" ("I am off to love"). Desti considered this embarrassing, as it suggested that she and Falchetto were going to her hotel for a tryst. Her silk scarf, a gift from Desti, draped around her neck, became entangled around the open-spoked wheels and rear axle, hurling her from the open car and breaking her neck.[1] Desti claims that she called out to warn Duncan about the shawl almost immediately after the car left. Desti brought Duncan to the hospital, where she was declared dead.[32]

As The New York Times noted in its obituary: "Isadora Duncan, the American dancer, tonight met a tragic death at Nice on the Riviera. According to dispatches from Nice, Miss Duncan was hurled in an extraordinary manner from an open automobile in which she was riding and instantly killed by the force of her fall to the stone pavement."[33] Other sources described her death as resulting from strangulation, noting that she was almost decapitated by the sudden tightening of the scarf around her neck. The accident gave rise to Gertrude Stein's mordant remark that "affectations can be dangerous".[34] At her death, Duncan was a Soviet citizen. Her will was the first of a Soviet citizen to be probated in the U.S.

Duncan was cremated, and her ashes were placed next to those of her children[35] in the columbarium at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The headstone of her grave contains the inscription Ecole de Ballet de l'Opera de Paris ("Ballet School of the Opera of Paris").


Breaking with convention, Duncan traced the art of dance back to its roots as a sacred art. She developed within this idea, free and natural movements inspired by the classical Greek arts, folk dances, social dances, nature and natural forces as well as an approach to the new American athleticism which included skipping, running, jumping, leaping and tossing.

While her schools in Europe did not last long, her work had impact in the art and her style is still danced based upon the instruction of Maria-Theresa Duncan, Anna Duncan, and Irma Duncan, three of her six adopted daughters. By 1913 she was already being celebrated. When the Theatre des Champs-Elysees was built, Duncan's likeness was carved in its bas-relief over the entrance by sculptor Antoine Bourdelle and included in painted murals of the nine muses by Maurice Denis in the auditorium. In 1987, she was inducted into the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame.


^ Craine, Debra and Mackrell, Judith. The Oxford dictionary of dance.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000. p.152 ISBN 0-19-860106-9
^ Duncan (1927), p.21
^ Duncan (1927), p.31
^ Duncan (1927), p.55
^ Duncan (1927), p.58
^ Duncan (1927), p.69
^ Duncan (1927), p.94
^ Jowitt, Deborah. Time and the Dancing Image. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1989. p.71
^ Kurth (2001), p.155.
^ Setzer, Dawn. "UCLA Library Acquires Isadora Duncan Collection",
UCLA Newsroom, last modified April 21, 2006
^ Sturges (1990), p.39
^ Kurth (2001), p.168.
^ Duncan (1927), p.311
^ Sturges (1990), p.120
^ Sturges (1990), pp.121-124
^ Greg Daugherty (2 May 2013). "8 Famous People Who Missed the
Lusitania". Smithsonian Magazine.
^ Duncan (1927), p.422.
^ to: a b Duncan (1927), p.75
^ Kurth (2001), p.57
^ Duncan (1927), p.45
^ Duncan (1927), p.343
^ Duncan (1927), p.10
^ Stern, Keith. Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of
Historical Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgenders BenBella Books, 2009. ISBN 9781935251835. p.148
^ Duncan (1927), p.21
^ Duncan (1927), p.31
^ Duncan (1927), p.55
^ Duncan (1927), p.58
^ Duncan (1927), p.69
^ Duncan (1927), p.94
^ Jowitt, Deborah. Time and the Dancing Image. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1989. p.71
^ Kurth (2001), p.155.
^ Setzer, Dawn. "UCLA Library Acquires Isadora Duncan Collection",
UCLA Newsroom, last modified April 21, 2006
^ Sturges (1990), p.39
^ Kurth (2001), p.168.
^ Duncan (1927), p.311
^ Sturges (1990), p.120
^ Sturges (1990), pp.121-124
^ Greg Daugherty (2 May 2013). "8 Famous People Who Missed the
Lusitania". Smithsonian Magazine.
^ Duncan (1927), p.422.
^ to: a b Duncan (1927), p.75
^ Kurth (2001), p.57
^ Duncan (1927), p.45
^ Duncan (1927), p.343
^ Duncan (1927), p.10
^ Stern, Keith. Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of
Historical Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgenders BenBella Books, 2009. ISBN 9781935251835. p.148
^ Turner, Erin H. (1999). More Than Petticoats: Remarkable California
Women. Globe Pequot. p. 79. ISBN 1-56044-859-8.
^ to: a b Kurth (2001)
^ "Duse, Eleanora (1859-1924)". glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. 2006-09-10. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
^ Gavin, Eileen A. and Siderits, Mary Anne. Women of vision: their
psychology, circumstances, and success. 2007
^ Hugo Vickers, Loving Garbo: The Story of Greta Garbo, Cecil Beaton, and
Mercedes de Acosta, Random House, 1994.
^ Schanke (2006)
^ Milford, Nancy. Zelda: A Biography, New York: HarperCollins, 1983. p.118
^ Gillies, Malcolm; Pear, David and Carroll, Mark. (eds.) Self Portrait of
Percy Grainger. Oxford University Press, 2006. p.116
^ to: a b Sturges (1990), pp. 227-230
^ "Isadora Duncan, Dragged by Scarf from Auto, Killed; Dancer Is Thrown to
Road While Riding at Nice and Her Neck Is Broken" (Fee). The New York Times. 1927-09-15. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
^ "Affectations Can Be Dangeous" on the Three Hundred Words website
^ Kavanagh, Nicola (May 2008). "Decline and Fall". Wound Magazine
(London) (3): 113. ISSN 1755-800X.
^ to: a b c d "Isadora Duncan (character)" on
^ Isadora at the Internet Movie Database
^ "Isadora (1981 ballet)" on the Barry Kay Archive website. Retrieved: April
6, 2008
^ Isadora Duncan at the Internet Movie Database
^ "Isadora Duncan: Movement from the Soul" on


De Fina, Pamela. Maria Theresa: Divine Being, Guided by a Higher Order. Pittsburgh: Dorrance, 2003. ISBN 0-8059-4960-7
About Duncan's adopted daughter; Pamela De Fina, student and protogee of Maria Theresa Duncan from 1979 to 1987 in New York City, received original choreography, which is held at the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Duncan, Anna. Anna Duncan: In the footsteps of Isadora. Stockholm: Dansmuseet, 1995. ISBN 91-630-3782-3
Duncan, Doralee; Pratl, Carol and Splatt, Cynthia (eds.) Life Into Art. Isadora Duncan and Her World. Foreword by Agnes de Mille. Text by Cynthia Splatt. Hardcover. 199 pages. W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. ISBN 0-393-03507-7
Duncan, Irma. The Technique of Isadora Duncan. Illustrated. Photographs by Hans V. Briesex. Posed by Isadora, Irma and the Duncan pupils. Austria: Karl Piller, 1937. ISBN 0-87127-028-5
Duncan, Isadora. My Life. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1927. OCLC 738636
Duncan, Isadora; Cheney, Sheldon (ed.) The Art of the Dance. New York: Theater Arts, 1928. ISBN 0-87830-005-8
Kurth, Peter. Isadora: A Sensational Life. Little Brown, 2001. ISBN 0-316-50726-1
Levien, Julia. Duncan Dance: A Guide for Young People Ages Six to Sixteen. Illustrated. Dance Horizons, 1994. ISBN 0-87127-198-2
Peter, Frank-Manuel (ed.) Isadora & Elizabeth Duncan in Germany. Cologne: Wienand Verlag, 2000. ISBN 3-87909-645-7
Savinio, Alberto. Isadora Duncan, in Narrate, uomini, la vostra storia. Bompiani,1942, Adelphi, 1984.
Schanke, Robert That Furious Lesbian: The Story of Mercedes de Acosta. Carbondale, Ill: Southern Illinois Press, 2003.
Stokes, Sewell. Isadora, an Intimate Portrait. New York: Brentanno's Ltd, 1928.
Sturges, Preston; Sturges, Sandy (adapt. & ed.). Preston Sturges on Preston Sturges. Boston: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0571164250.

Further reading

Daly, Ann. Done into Dance: Isadora Duncan in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.
Duncan, Isadora (1927). My Life. New York: Boni and Liveright. OCLC 738636.


Isadora Duncan Biography

Isadora Duncan was born on May 26, 1877 to a prominent San Francisco family. In October of the same year her father’s bank failed. Shortly afterwards her parents were divorced and her father remarried. Her mother had to give piano lessons to support her four children. The two boys found odd jobs, while young Isadora and her sister Elizabeth taught dancing to neighborhood children. When not teaching, or in school, Isadora explored the beach and would later say that her earliest ideas of dance came from watching the rhythms of the waves.

She was also influenced by the ideas of Francois Delsarte (1811-1871). The French Delsarte believed that “the Natural” is the most beautiful, and that natural movement is that which is made in accord with both the structure of the body and the pull of gravity. Among his American followers were Genevieve Stebbins and Mrs. Richard Hovey who lectured, danced or declaimed poetry with eloquent gestures, wearing Greek robes. (It was then the Greek revival period in both European and American art). Delsarte’s theories and the Greek costumes would have an effect on Isadora as her own dance evolved.

In 1890 at the age of 13 Isadora gave her first dance recital at the First Unitarian Church in Oakland. (The family had moved to Oakland after the bank’s failure.) The sisters and their brothers also taught social dancing: waltzes, polkas and schottisches. The San Francisco area was already a center of music and theatre. Opera companies from Europe performed there, as did eminent actors Edwin Booth, Sarah Bernhardt, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. The young Duncans were interested in all the arts. Led by the older brother Augustin (who would become a well known actor) they toured the California coast with their own version of plays and entertainment.

In 1895 Isadora and her mother traveled to Chicago where, after a brief dancing engagement, Isadora was hired by New York producer Augustin Daly for his touring company. From 1895 to the end of 1897 Isadora took part in Daly’s productions, sometimes as an incidental dancer, sometimes as a bit player, in New York. Isadora gave recitals at the homes of society ladies, and she and Elizabeth taught dancing to children while her mother played the piano. One day in 1899 the building in which the Duncans were teaching caught fire. They managed to rescue their pupils but all of the Duncan’ belongings were destroyed. Penniless, they decided to travel to England, and with small gifts and loans from the parents whose children they saved, they booked passage on a cattle boat.

In England Isadora gave three concerts at the New Gallery, and encouraged by music critic J. Fuller Maitland, she began dancing to serious music. She also spent much time in the British Museum with her brother Raymond, studying the movements of the figures on Greek vases and the friezes from the Parthenon. She would later study figures in museums, churches and temples in Paris, Berlin, Florence, Rome and Athens, and what she learned from great art of motion and expression she would incorporate in her dances.

In her speech, The Dance of the Future, made in Berlin when she was 26, she said that nature was the source of the dance. Every creature moves according to its nature – that is, according to its feelings and its physical structure. The Movements of the savage were natural and beautiful. So too were the movements of the classical Greeks wearing simple tunics and sandals. But ballet, with its artificial stops, starts, its holding of poses and its toe dancing, is the opposite of natural motion. Its movements do not flow successively from one another. It tries to “create the delusion that gravity does not exist”. Moreover it harms the body: “Under the tricots are dancing deformed muscles .. underneath the muscles are deformed bones” She added: “It is not a question of true art … it is a question of the development of perfect mothers and the birth of healthy and beautiful children … In (my) school I shall not teach the children to imitate my movements but to make their own … O. she is coming, the dancer of the future: … the highest intelligence in the freest body!”

With this speech she aligned herself with the women’s movement, while at the same time advocating dance both as a necessary part of children’s education and a means of living a healthy, free life. She would found schools in Berlin, in Paris, and after the Russian Revolution, in Moscow. During the First World War children from her Berlin and Paris schools, under the tutelage of her sister Elizabeth, would come to the United States. After Isadora’s death, girls from the Moscow school would tour the United States, guided by Irma Duncan, one of Isadora’s six original pupils, until the Russian girls were recalled to the Soviet Union, when they were replaced on tour by American Duncan pupils. It is through Isadora’s six original pupils: Anna, Irma, Lisa, Theresa, Margot and Erica (nicknamed “The Isadorables”) and their European and American colleagues and descendants that her work has been transmitted.

What was Isadora’s choreography like and what effect has it had on dance? Isadora’s lyrical works were notable for their lightness, and for the long, flowing undular movement of arms and body. In her dramatic dances she used movements that were abrupt, violent (if the motion she wished to express was violent, as in The Dance of the Amazons), and even contorted. In The Dance of the Furies from Orpheus she appeared to be lifting boulders, she beat her head against the earth, she fell to the ground. Martha Graham is sometimes spoken of as the dancer who “discovered the floor” a claim which can also be made for Mary Wigman. But the discovery goes back to Isadora, with her insistence on the force of gravity as part of the dance. Her emphasis on natural, fluid and expressive movement would have a stimulating effect on such ballet choreographers as Fokine, Tudor and Ashton, and it would broaden the range of modern dance which was just then coming into being, with Isadora, Loie Fuller, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn as its diverse pioneers.

Isadora also composed works on social and political themes, such as The Marseillaise (inspired by the First World War) and The Marche Slave (about the Russian Revolution). Later in the Soviet Union she would make dances on the themes of labor or revolution which would influence Graham, Holm, Weidman, Humphrey, Limon, Tamiris and Sokolow in the United States and Wigman and Jooss in Germany in the ’30s and ’40s; while her stirring use of dancers who moved to the songs they are singing is eloquently demonstrated today by the Moiseyev folk ballet. Even her contemporaries, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, though very different in their approach to the dance were influenced by her use of Greek themes and symphonic music.

By her example she made dance in many schools a normal part of the curriculum, seen not simply as exercise but as a life-enhancing experience. Her own works, which had temporarily dropped out of sight in the year following her death, are performed in the theatre again, and are enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike. Her economy of means, her lyricism and her expressiveness have been noted and applauded. Modern Dance has absorbed her teaching, and the ballet has been permeated by her emphasis on musicality and psychological truth. Before her, in much of the world, dance was considered simply entertainment. She gave it the status of art.

By Fredrika Blair
(Author: Isadora: Portrait of the Artist as a Woman, published 1986 McGraw-Hill and William Morrow/Quill.)
Blair, Frederika. Isadora Duncan: Portrait of the Artist As A Woman. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1986.


== Biographical/historical information ==

Duncan, Isadora is an American dancer. Angela Isadora Duncan, born Dora Angela Duncan was born in San Francisco on May 27, 1877. By national Isadora Duncan was Irish. The children of Isadora Duncan drowned with their nanny in 1913. Didre, the daughter of Gordon Crag, was 7 years old, and Patrick, the son of Paris Eugene Singer, was only 4 years old. Duncan herself died tragically in Nice on September 14, 1927. Buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

== Concept ==

Duncan is an innovator and reformer of choreography who, in his dances, freed from the formalistic classical ballet forms, made plastic expression of musical content. She contrasted the classical ballet school with a free plastic dance. She used ancient Greek plastic, danced in a chiton and without shoes. She was one of the first to use symphonic music for dance, including Chopin, Gluck, Schubert, Beethoven, Wagner. Isadora dreamed of creating a new man for whom dancing would be more than a natural affair. With her dance, she restored the harmony of soul and body. She opened to people the dance in its pure form, "self-valuable only in itself," built according to the laws of pure art. In the harmonic art of Isadora Duncan, the desire for harmony and beauty is expressed in perfect form. Starting from music, she came in motion to the harmonic canon, and that is why she became the main and only founder of all dance modernism. Duncan has achieved a perfect match with the emotional expression of musical and dance images. It was a new approach to the art of dance, a new method of creative expression, which was outside the aesthetic framework of the traditional ballet school. The movement was born out of music, and not preceded by it.

== Tradition ==

Today in different countries of the world - America, France, Germany, Sweden, Hungary, Greece and Russia, followers of art Isadora Duncan preserve and develop the traditions of her dance. The original choreography of Duncan was recorded in notes, books on dance technique were released, and the original Duncan dances performed by contemporary dancers were filmed. In 2001, the Isadora Duncan Cultural Center for the Pure Arts (Duncan Center) was established in St. Petersburg, within the framework of which, since 2002, the annual International Open Non-Commercial Festival dedicated to the memory of Isadora Duncan (Duncan Festival) has been held.

== Documentary ==

# [ Isadora Duncan dancing in an Temple of Poseidon]
# [ Isadora Duncan dances under Brams music]
# [ Sergey Esenin and Isadora Duncan]

== Literature ==

# ''Duncan, Isadora'' (1927). My Life. New York: Boni and Liveright. OCLC 738636
# ''Kurth, Peter'' (2001). Isadora, a Sensational Life. Little Brown. ISBN 0316507261.
# ''Levien, Julia.'' Duncan Dance : a guide for young people ages / Julia Levien. With illustrations by the author from life and memory. “A Dance Horizons book.” 1994. ISBN 0-87127-198-2
# Maria Theresa. Divine Being, Guided by a Higher Power by ''Pamela de Fina''. The Adopted Daughter of Isadora Duncan, 2003. Dorrance Publishing Go., Inc. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222. ISBN 0-8059-4960-7
# Anna Duncan: In the footsteps of Isadora. I Isadoras fotspar. Dansmuseet, 1995. ISBN 91-630-3782-3
# ''Frank-Manuel Peter'' (Hrsg./Ed.). Isadora & Elizabeth Duncan in Deutschland, in Germany. Deutsches Tanzarchiv Koln, 2000. ISBN 3-87909-645-7
# The Technique of Isadora Duncan By Irma Duncan. Illustrated. Photographs ву Hans V. Briesex. Posed by Isadora, Irma and the duncan pupils. Printed in Austria by Karl Piller, Wien VIII. ISBN 0-87127-028-5
# The Art of the Dance. Isadora Duncan / pref. par Sheldon Cheney.- New-York : Theater Arts, 1928.- 147 p. Edited, with an introduction by Sheldon Cheney. ISBN 0-87830-005-8
# Life Into Art. Isadora Duncan and Her World. (1993) Edited By Doraee Duncan, Carol Pratl, And Cynthia Splatt ; Foreword By Agnes De Mille ; Text By Cynthia Splatt. Hardcover: 199 pages. Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (November 1993). ISBN 0-39303-507-7

== External links ==

* [ Jun Morita website]
* [ Duncan Tanz-International]
* [ Isadora Duncan Museum]
* [ NYPL Digital Gallery]
* [ Brooklyn Museum]
* [ Plymouth State University]

== See also ==

* [[Isadorables]]
* [[Irma Duncan]]

== Биография ==

Дункан, Айседора - американская танцовщица. Анджела Изадора Дёнкан, урождённая Dora Angela Duncan (Isadora Duncan) родилась в Сан-Франциско 27 мая 1877 года. В Большой советской энциклопедия (БСЭ) год рождения 1878 указан ошибочно. Имя и фамилия танцовщицы правильно произносится Изадора Дёнкан, однако в России её всегда называли Айседора Дункан. По национальности Айседора Дункан была ирландка. Дети Айседоры Дункан утонули вместе с няней в 1913 году. Дидре, дочке Гордона Крэга, было 7 лет, а Патрику, сыну Париса Юджина Зингера было всего 4 года. Сама Дункан трагически погибла в Ницце 14 сентября 1927 года. Похоронена на кладбище Пер-Лашез в Париже.

В 13 лет Айседора бросила школу, и серьезно занялась музыкой и танцами. Как самостоятельная танцовщица Дункан впервые выступила в Будапеште в 1903 году, после чего, в 1903 г. она вместе с семьей совершила паломничество в Грецию. Первую свою школу танцев она открыла вместе со старшей сестрой Элизабет в 1904 году в Германии в городе Грюневальде. В Россию она приехала впервые 10 января 1905 года. В конце 1907 г. Дункан дала несколько концертов в Санкт-Петербурге. В то время она подружилась со Станиславским. 16 апреля 1915 года состоялось первое представление второй части "Патетической симфонии" Чайковского. В июле 1921 Дункан приехала в Советскую Россию по приглашению А.В.Луначарского и Л.Б.Красина, и организовала в Москве для детей рабочих хореографическую школу (особняк на ул. Пречистенка, 20), куда было принято около 60 девочек в возрасте от 4 до 10 лет. Первое выступление Дункан в Москве состоялось 7 ноября 1921-го года на сцене Большого театра в дни празднования четвертой годовщины Октября. Находясь в России (1921-24), вышла замуж за поэта С.Есенина и вместе с ним выезжала в США (1922-23). В 1922 году у Айседоры возникли крупные неприятности после нескольких интервью, в которых она высказалась об атеизме и о большевистской революции в России. Её последние выступления в Нью-Йорке состоялись 13 и 15 января 1923 года в Карнеги-холл. После развода с Сергеем Есениным, в 1925 году, возвратилась в США, где подвергалась травле как “большевистская шпионка”. Была лишена гражданства США за ведение “красной пропаганды”. В результате была вынуждена переехать во Францию, где и оставалась до последних дней жизни. В 1925 школа, основанная Дункан в России, была лишена государственного финансирования, тем не менее школа и студия просуществовали до 1949 года. После отъезда Дункан студией руководила её приёмная дочь Ирма. Школа была закрыта по идеологическим соображениям, как пропагандирующая «болезненное, декадентское искусство, завезенное в нашу страну из Америки». Однако, за Дункан последовали «пластички-босоножки» Л.Н.Алексеева и С.Д.Руднева, которые создали студии пластики и музыкального движения, продолжающие работать и до настоящего времени. В России изданы две книги Айседоры Дункан: «Танец будущего» (М., 1907) и «Моя жизнь» (М., 1930).

== Концепция ==

Дункан - новатор и реформатор хореографии, давшая в своих танцах, освобожденных от формалистических классических балетных форм, пластическое воплощение музыкального содержания. Она противопоставила классической школе балета свободный пластический танец. Использовала древнегреческую пластику, танцевала в хитоне и без обуви. Одной из первых использовала для танца симфоническую музыку, в том числе Шопена, Глюка, Шуберта, Бетховена, Вагнера. Айседора мечтала о создании нового человека, для которого танец будет более чем естественным делом. Своим танцем восстанавливала гармонию души и тела. Она открыла людям танец в чистом виде, «самоценном исключительно в самом себе», построенном по законам чистого искусства. В гармоническом искусстве танца Айседоры Дункан стремление к гармонии и красоте выражено в идеальной форме. Отталкиваясь от музыки, она пришла в движении к гармоническому канону, и именно поэтому стала главной и единственной основоположницей всего танцевального модерна. Дункан добилась идеального соответствия эмоциональной выраженности музыкальных и танцевальных образов. Это был новый подход к искусству танца, новый метод творческого выражения, который находился за пределами эстетических рамок традиционной балетной школы. Движение рождалось из музыки, а не предшествовало ей.

== Традиции ==

Сегодня в разных странах мира, - Америке, Франции, Германии, Швеции, Венгрии, Греции и России, последователи искусства Айседоры Дункан сохраняют и развивают традиции её танца. Сделана запись оригинальной хореографии Дункан в нотах, выпущены книги по технике танца, отсняты на видео оригинальные танцы Дункан в исполнении современных танцоров. В 2001 году в Санкт-Петербурге был создан Культурный Центр Чистых искусств имени Айседоры Дункан (Дункан-Центр), в рамках деятельности которого, начиная с 2002 года, проводится ежегодный Международный открытый некоммерческий фестиваль памяти Айседоры Дункан (Фестиваль Дункан).

== Литература ==

# ''Айседора Дункан.'' Моя исповедь. Издательство: Лиесма, 1991 г. Мягкая обложка, 288 стр. ISBN 5-410-00982-7
# ''Айседора Дункан.'' Моя жизнь - М.: Контракт-ТМТ, 1992. - 192 с.: ил. ISBN 5-85058-009-3
# ''Дункан А.'' Моя жизнь; ''Шнейдер И.'' Встречи с Есениным: Воспоминания. - Киев: Мистецтво, 1989. - 349 с.: ил. ISBN 5-7715-0195-6
# ''Дункан Ирма, Макдугалл Алан Росс.'' Русские дни Айседоры Дункан и ее последние годы во Франции / Пер. с англ. Вступ. ст., комментарий Г. Лахути. - М.: Моск. рабочий, 1995. - 271 с. ISBN 5-239-01848-0
# ''Блэйер Ф.'' Айседора: Портрет женщины и актрисы / Перевод с англ. Е.Гусевой. - Смоленск: Русич, 1997. - 560 с. - («Женщина-миф»). ISBN 5-88590-642-4
# ''Курт П.'' Айседора. Неистовый танец жизни. Isadora. A Sensational Life - М.: Изд-во Эксмо, 2002. - 768 с., илл. ISBN 5-699-00762-8
# Каталог с выставки "Античный профиль танца" ''Василий Ватагин, Матвей Добров, Николай Чернышев'' (Айседоре Дункан посвящается), 24 августа - 20 октября 2006, Москва: Изд-во Музей графики. ISBN 5-900395-16-2
# ''Стефанида Руднева.'' Воспоминания счастливого человека. - М.: Главархив, 2007. - 856 с.: ил. ISBN 978-5-7728-0152-9, ISBN 978-5-8330-0249-0
# ''Руднева С., Фиш Э.'' Музыкальное движение. Методическое пособие для педагогов музыкально-двигательного воспитания, работающих с детьми дошкольного и младшего школьного возраста. 2-е изд., перераб. и дополн. / [ Под ред. В. Царьковой.] -СПб.: Издательский Центр "Гуманитарная Академия", 2000. - 320 с. ISBN 5-93762-003-8
# ''Наталья Аляшева.'' Айседора Дункан. Документальные свидетельства и фантазии. Издательство: Урал ЛТД. 2000. Твердый переплет, 442 стр. ISBN 5-8029-0139-X
# Есенин и Айседора Дункан. Серия: Любовные истории великих ''(Сост. Т.И.Маршкова).'' Издательство: Алгоритм, - М., 2007 г. Твердый переплет, 288 стр. ISBN 978-5-9265-0330-9
# Айседора Дункан и Сергей Есенин. Их жизнь, творчество, судьба ''(ред.-сост., вступ.ст., пер. Краснов И.М.).'' Издательство: Терра (2005). ISBN 5-275-01262-4
# ''Нонна Голикова.'' Сергей и Айседора. - М.: Вагриус, 2005. - 256 с.: ил. ISBN 5-9697-0003-7

== Документальные кадры ==

# [ Танец Айседоры Дункан у Храма Посейдона]
# [ Айседора Дункан танцует под музыку Брамса]
# [ Сергей Есенин и Айседора Дункан]

== Художественные фильмы ==

''Isadora (1966).'' [ Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1966)] by Ken Russell with Vivian Pickles. Documentary and Biography film of BBC company, UK. Айседора Дункан, величайшая танцовщица в мире. Великобритания, 1966 г. Режиссёр: Кен Рассел. Художественный фильм. В главной роли: Вивьен Пиклз.

''Isadora (1968).'' [ Isadora (1968)] by Karel Reisz with Vanessa Redgrave. Biography and Drama film of Hakim company, UK-France. Айседора. Великобритания-Франция, 1968 г. Режиссёр: Карел Рейш. Художественный фильм. В главной роли: Ванесса Редгрейв.

== Ссылки ==

* [ Музей Айседоры Дункан]
* [ Фестиваль Айседоры Дункан]
* [ Центр Айседоры Дункан]

== См. также ==

* [[Музыкальное движение]]
* [[Стефанида Руднева]]
* [[Ирма Дункан]]
* [[Айседора Дункан]]
* [[Айседора (фильм)]]

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