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Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan and her fame around the World
Isadora Duncan was born in 1877 in San Francisco, California. As a child she studied ballet, Delsarte technique and burlesque forms like skirt dancing. She began her professional career in Chicago in 1896, where she met the theatrical producer Augustin Daly. Soon after, Duncan joined his his touring company, appearing in roles ranging from one of the fairies in a "Mid-summer Night's Dream" to one of the quartet girls in "The Giesha." Duncan traveled to England with the Daly company in 1897. During this time she also danced as a solo performer at a number of society functions in and around London.

Isadora Duncan in New York

Returning to New York City in 1898, Duncan left the Daly company and began performing her solo dances at the homes of wealthy patrons. Calling their program "The Dance and Philosophy," Isadora and her older sister Elizabeth offered society women an afternoon of dance pieces set to Strauss waltzes and Omar Khayyam's "The Rubbaiyat." Influenced by the Americanized Delsarte movement, these "afternoons" received little serious notice from the press. Duncan became discouraged by the lack of enthusiasm, and, with her mother andsiblings, set sail for London in 1899.

Duncan's Introduction to Music and Art

In the years between 1899 and 1907, Duncan lived and worked in the great cities of Europe. In London in 1900 she met a group of artists and critics --led by the painter Charles Halle and the music critic John Fuller-Maitland -- who introduced her to Greek statue art, Italian Renaissance paintings and symphonic music. During this perioed, Fuller-Maitland convinced her to stop dancing to recitations and to begin using the music of Chopin and Beethoven for her inspiration.

The Dance of the Future

In Germany Duncan was introduced to the philosopy of Frederick Nietzsche, and soon after began formulating her own philosophy of dance. In 1903 she delivered a speech in Berlin called "The Dance of the Future." In it she argued that the dance of the future would be similar to the dance of the ancient Greeks, natural and free. Duncan accused the ballet of "deforming the beautiful woman's body" and called for its abolition. She ended her speech by stating that "the dance of the future will have to become again a high religious art as it was with the Greeks. For art which is not religious is not art, is mere merchandise." It was during this period that Duncan began clarifying her theory of natural dance, identifying the source of the body's natural movement in the solar plexus.

The Isadorables

Between 1904 and 1907, Duncan lived and worked in Greece, Germany, Russia and Scandanavia. During this period she worked with many famous artists, including the scenic designer Gordon Craig and the Russian theatre director Constantin Stanislavsky. 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.

Duncan's World Fame

Duncan returned to the United States in 1908 to begin a series of tours throughout the country. At first, her performances were poorly received by music critics, who felt that the dancer had no right to "interpret" symphonic music. The music critic from The New York Times, for example, wrote that there was "much question of the necessity or the possibility of a physical 'interpretation' of the symphony upon the seems like laying violent hands on a great masterpiece that had better be left alone." (1908). But the audiences grew more and more enthusiastic, and when Duncan returned to Europe in 1909, she was famous throughout the world. In the following years, Duncan created and maintained schools in France, Germany and Russia. She continued to sponsor young dancers and to give her solo performances. She returned to the United States several times, touring the country, but she never lived there again. In 1927, Duncan was killed in an automobile accident in Paris.

Isadora Duncan's Innovations:


  1. 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.

  2. Duncan was the first American dancer to define movement based on natural and spiritual laws rather than on formal considerations of geometric space.

  3. Duncan was the first American dancer to rigorously compare dance to the other arts, defending it as a primary art form worthy of "high art" status.

  4. Duncan was the first American dancer to develop a philosophy of the dance.

  5. Duncan was the first American dancer to deemphasize scenery and costumes in favor of a simple stage setting and simple costumes. By doing this, Duncan suggested that watching a dancer dance was enough.

The scientist woman is dancing

Isadora Duncan performed in Urania, Budapest, in 1902. Mari Jászai will be a committed supporter of the San Francisco dancer, whose international career begins here and there, and about whom, for example, the angry, misunderstood poet of Oradea, Endre Ady, writes in a very derogatory way in the local paper. According to his biography, Valéria Dienes had a ticket to the Uranium performance on April 194 or perhaps a later one, but did not leave, so it was only years later that it had an impact on life.5 However, there is also a version of this episode that Valéria Dienes saw at the time. Isadora Duncant, but she was not particularly impressed by the performance. In Paris, as a follower of Bergson, this rebellious and meaningful dance, detached from ballet, is likely to reach her in a completely different context in the winter of 1910-1911, when she watches the barefoot dancer three times in a row at the Châtelet in Paris.

Isadora echo of Duncan 's art in Hungary

The love of 25-year-old dancer Isadora Duncan and 26-year-old actor Oszkár Beregi was born at the same time and place as modern dance: just 110 years ago, in Budapest. Isadora was considered a kind of miracle beetle in her homeland, America, because of her experimental art. They didn’t look with a good eye at how much he was fumbling with the rules of classical ballet, and instead of traditional ballet costumes, he danced freely in Greek tunics, barefoot. He came to Europe with a dance group. His impression figured out that he would be the first to present himself with his independent show in Budapest, the fastest growing multicultural and decadent city on the continent. It was a good idea: the liberated dance performance, not without delicate erotica, was a huge success on April 19, 1902, at the Urania Theater. Isadora also understood the audience: “I signaled to the band that they would also play Strauss’s Blue Danube orbit, on which I then danced improvised. Success was frenetic. The audience jumped up and celebrated almost without a break. ” After the performance, the men caught the horses from their car, pulling them to the gates of their hotel. And that only went to the biggest stars, like Marina Jászai, who otherwise saw Duncan’s performance and was enthusiastic about it. Perhaps Oszkár Beregi, the celebrated actor of the National Theater, was already sitting there at this performance. In any case, Isadora - on her mother’s side - soon appeared in the National, where she played Romeo Romeo. He sat through the lecture in Hungarian and wrote about it in his diary: “He has a burning black gaze and deepened his eyes in mine, with such a passion and Hungarian passion that the Budapest spring was in that one look. He was tall and princely, his skull framed by rich black curls, sometimes given a purple tinge. Michelangelo could have modeled David on him. ” Love soon arose out of Hungarian passion. Isadora used to live almost exclusively for dancing, not interested in men. The first man in his life was Oscar. The first medium where he was a star was Hungary. When he performed at the Opera House, to the surprise of the audience, he assigned a gypsy band to the stage and began singing to the tune of Only a Little Girl…. Later, he danced in a red cloak to the "revolutionary anthem of the Hungarian heroes", the Rákóczi starter. With his performances in Pest, he had such a raging success that he was also invited to perform in the countryside. He performed in many cities from Pécs to Arad. In the second cultural capital of the age, Oradea, not only because of the arrival of Endre Ady, he wrote a rumbling article that while an American dancer is piled up with offers in theaters, Hungarian actors are miserable. Elsewhere, however, he was fascinated by his performances, and the Hungarian tour also brought him European invitations. Paris, Moscow, Berlin and Florence were waiting for him. Dance was more important to him than love, so he couldn’t stay. Oscar sometimes even appeared on the side of his love abroad, such as in Bayreuth, when he recited the woman in Hungarian in Wagner's garden, but his roles called him to Pest. They slowly parted. An artistically successful career, but an unhappy private life awaited them both. Beregi played for Max Reinhardt in Berlin, starring in Fritz Lang’s film in Hollywood, but homesickness always dragged him home. Even when, as a Jew, he was deprived of his membership in the Acting Chamber and the National Stage. In World War II, under adventurous circumstances, he fled to America again, from where he could no longer return home. They never met Isadora again. The dancer has been searching for love all her life, she had several partners and husbands, including the 15-year-old poet Sergei Yesenin. She lost her children in a tragic accident, and soon after her husband, Yesenin, committed suicide. Dancing helped him survive the losses. He was driving on the French Riviera in 1927 when his long scarf wrapped around the wheel and strangled him. As the creator of modern dance, the world mourned. Few knew that his creature was born in Budapest at the same time as his first great love.

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