Who Was Isadora Duncan?

"Isadora is a mythic figure for our century. She lives in our imagination, not
just as a dancer, not just as a feminist, but as a renovator of artistic form." 

Jeanne Bresciani 

As a historical figure, Duncan is best known as the founder of modern dance. With
her endemic spirit and life-long body of work she became a force for social
change and a teacher-prophet. Many individuals reading this web page may have
been introduced to Isadora Duncan through the movie titled, "The Loves of
Isadora", starring Vanessa Redgrave. 

Isadora's dance today remains the root system for modern dance, creative movement
for children, and movement therapies. Duncan is best known for her natural
technique based upon daily movements such as walking, running, skipping and
leaping. Her style has dancers wearing loose robes with bare feet so as to
reflect the swaying of trees and the rocking of ocean waves. 

In contrast to classic ballet movements, there are no stiff postures or rigid
movements because straight lines do not occur in nature. Duncan's motivation for
dance was to "express the feelings and emotions of humanity" and thus her dance
movements emanate from the soul to become an embodiment of individuality and
extreme passion.

Isadora never regarded herself as just a dancer. Her goal was to bring dance
within the experience of every human being, not just as a diversion, but as a
molding influence from early childhood. She instructed young children to listen
to the music with their souls and in doing so they would feel an inner self
awaken to give them strength. 

This awakening of the soul was the first step in dance as she conceived it.
Duncan's mission in life was to counteract the materialistic influences of
civilization that held the power to zap the inspiration (spiritual power and
grace) she believed was inherent in all children. To accomplish this goal she
requested that individuals first, " teach little children to breathe, to vibrate,
to feel, and to become one with the general harmony and movement of nature. Let
us first produce a beauitiful human being, a dancing child ". 

The atmosphere associated with the Duncan School was/is one of comraderie rather
than competition. Isadora was a student of the legendary G.I. Gurdjieff at his
institute near Paris, France.