Isadora Duncan – American icon of dance
Isadora Duncan was the great American icon of dance. She was ahead of her time in her artistic ideals, her modes of physical expression, and her controversial private life. Her free style of dancing came to be known as modern dance.
Angela Isadora Duncan was born on May 26, 1877 (according to other sources on May 27, 1878) in San Francisco, California. She was the youngest of four children. Isadora was the daughter of poor but liberal, art-loving parents. She attended sessions in gymnastics.
Still in her teens Isadora and her sister Elisabeth were listed as teachers of dance in the San Francisco directory.
On March 14, 1899 she gave a solo performance in New York in which she danced to poetry.
She travelled the world and was a sensation wherever she went and became an inspiration to poets, musicians, and painters. She was the first Western dancer to perform barefoot and without tights. She wore a loose dress based on ancient Greek costumes.
Duncan opened dance schools in France, Germany, the United States, and the Soviet Union. She taught her students how to follow the natural movements and rhythms of their bodies.
She shocked everyone. She had two children by two different men from two different countries. She had love affair with the famed English stage designer of the time, Gordon Craig, and married the Russian poet Esenin, who was 17 years younger than she was.
In 1913, her children and their nurse were riding in a car in Paris. The car went out of control and rolled into the Seine River. All three of them drowned.
Duncan died on September 14, 1927 in Nice, France. She was dressed in a loose dress with a long scarf. She got into the car, waved to her friends. When the car started, her six-foot-long scarf got caught in the back wheel. The scarf tightened and broke her neck. Isadora Duncan died instantly.
– Isadora was played by Vanessa Redgrave in Karel Reisz’s 1969 film, The Loves of Isadora.
– Isadora was very fond of Esenin. The poet was found dead in a Leningrad hotel on December 28, 1925. Duncan even tried to commit suicide, but she was saved. She was 50 years old.
– Duncan traveled a lot around the world and opened the dance schools for orphan children. In order to allow children to study there the woman had to adopt some of them. In total, Duncan adopted and brought up about forty children.
– Duncan actively advocated for women’s emancipation.