Isadora Duncan Essay

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Isadora Duncan

By: Alexandra Bellissimo

Isadora Duncan made a lasting impression on the world of dance with her perseverance, dedication, passion, and style. She is defiantly one of the most influential creators of modern dance.

Angela Isadora Duncan was born in San Francisco, California on May 26th 1877. While she was still an infant, her Mother (a piano teacher and huge supporter of the arts) and father divorced. After this her family did much travelling and she lived in Chicago, New York and throughout Europe. At age 22, young Isadora used to immerse herself in the vast holdings of the British Museum. It is thought that it is here that she gathered her inspiration from paintings and sculptures showing Greek mythology and culture. She studied Greek mythology and visual iconography with her brother Raymond, which would shape her general style of movement as an artist. Duncan came to look at ancient rituals around dance, nature and the body as being central to her performance ideology. Isadora started dancing at the age of six with in-home lessons taught by her mother who was a strong believer in the arts. During these lessons it is said that you could clearly see her rejection of traditional dance. Isadora did not care for straight posture and perfect alignment; she wanted to show a more naturalistic movement. This eventually led to her fusion of the three popular forms of dance, Burlesque, Ballet and Ballroom with her dance company. Isadora Duncan became quite the globetrotter at a young age, mostly traveling around Europe, which exposed her to great cultures and experiences that greatly impacted her dancing. Isadora’s eccentric (at the time) styles were a hit in Europe. Isadora’s dancing career overlapped with the First World War. During the time when money dried up, she fled to Russia. At this time ballet was still a major form of dance so her style of dance was unheard of. This is an example of how she rejected tradition because even though no one else was doing what she was doing it was often thought of as strange or weird, she still made her dreams of creating this new dance form come true. This is why she is referred to as the “Mother of Modern Dance.” Isadora experienced many tragedies over the span of her short life including the suicide of her late husband and the drowning of her two children, not to mention her freak accidental death in September of 1927 when her iconic scarf got caught in the wheel of a sports car. She died instantly, leaving behind only her prodigies the Isadorables (Anna, Maria-Theresa, Irma, Lisle, Gretel, Erika, Isabelle and Temple - Isadora's niece) to carry on her legacy.

Isadora went against the norm, combining Ballet, Burlesque and Ballroom into one form of dance now known as Duncan Dance. This was the beginning of modern dance as we know it, causing a huge sensation and many reactions all over the world. Her unconventional techniques consisted of Greek Mythology, spiritual laws and elegant, naturalistic movement expressing the human body. Duncan was the first American dancer to develop and label a concept of natural breathing, which she identified with the ebb and flow of ocean waves. In 1904, Duncan established her first school of dance in Grunewald, a suburb outside of Berlin. There, she began to develop her theories of dance education and to assemble her famous dance group, later known as the Isadorables. What truly made her unique was that she brought on a whole new