Isadora Duncan and the Art of Dance

Isadora Duncan (1877 – 1927)
Photo by Arnold Genthe
during her 1915–18 American tour

On May, 27, 1877, American dancer Angela Isadora Duncan was born, who restored the dance to a high place among the arts. Breaking with convention, she traced the art of dance back to its roots and developed within this idea, free and natural movements inspired by the classical Greek arts.

Angela Isadora Duncan grew up in a poor family in California and dropped out of school to support the family very early. Later on, the talented young lady became part of a theater company in New York. Her dance style was known to be improvised and full of fantasy, since she began giving lessons at the age of six and continued until her late teenage years. To be able to life her style in her dances, Duncan moved to London, where she found much inspiration in Greek arts while visiting museums. Another influence to Isadora Duncan depicted the visits in Paris, especially the exhibitions at the Louvre.

Duncan began performing small shows in her studio in London and was finally asked by Loise Fuller, a pioneer of modern dance herself, to join her tour through Europe. On tour, Isadora Duncan was able to improve and optimize her very own dancing style concentrating on rather natural movements and moving away from the classical ballet. About her style, she once said: “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.” Her dancing performances polarized. The critics often found many negative aspects in her movements but in general the reactions turned out rather positive and her fame across Europe grew. To her admirers belonged Auguste Rodin and Antoine Bourdelle.

Throughout her career, Duncan lived the mission to follow her creativity and emotions in her dancing and to educate younger people. In order to achieve this, she opened dancing schools distributing her lifestyle and dancing philosophy. To bring her mission to a higher level, Isadora Duncan moved to the United States, opening another dance school, and in the 1920’s, she opened another one in Mowscow.

As already mentioned, her dancing often reminded the audience of the ancient Greek through her poses and her tunic. Later one, she managed to merge this style with her understanding of American freedom mostly dancing bare foot. Another significant inspiration to the dancer depicted the waves and the sound of the sea, which she also transferred into her movements.

Isadora Duncan was not only known for her extravagant dancing style. She is also remembered for always wearing flowing scarves, which unfortunately cost her young life. In a car accident on September 14, 1927, the dancer was strangled by her own scarf and declared dead on the same day. Isadora Duncan left behind a natural and free dancing style and had a great impact on future dancing schools and movements. Even today, many followers exist, performing the art of Isadora Duncan.

At yovisto you may enjoy a dance choreography by Isadora Duncan performed by Lori Belilove & The Isadora Duncan Dance Company to the music of Hector Berlioz.

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