Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan was born in Oakland, California in 1877. Her mother was an accomplished pianist who introduced her to the great composers, whose music later inspired Isadora's creation of a new dance form. Isadora's genius was appreciated by her family when she was very young, but her revolutionary ideas on dance were not well accpeted in America. When Isadora was in her teens, the family moved to Europe, where her genius was recognized. Even so, raising money was always difficult, until Isadora met her "Lohengrin", an American heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. With his financial support, she founded schools of Duncan dance in France and Germany. Eventually, Isadora gained great fame in both Europe and America; in fact, in the entire world.

Severe tragedy struck at the peak of her fame. Her two children were drowned when their car rolled into the Seine. When she eventually returned to her Art with the encouragement of the great actress Eleanor Duse, her choreography reflected her suffering.

Painting of Isadora Duncan
by Fritz August von Kaulbach from
"Isadora Duncan, The Art of the Dance"
Courtesy Theatre Arts Books.

Isadora's dream was to teach children who would then continue to teach others. This was more important to her than performances, although performing was important as a motivating force and also to help finance her school. One of her objectives was to obtain government support for the school. The first and only government to sponsor her work was the Soviet Union, and this support lasted approximately ten years.

Isadora Duncan died as dramatically as she had lived. She wore scarves which were long enough to trail behind her. On September 19, 1927 in France, her scarf became entangled in the rear wheel of a convertible car. When the car started, she was strangled.

Isadora died but her dream lives on. Six of her most gifted students eventually settled in the United States, and were adopted by Isadora Duncan and took her last name. Only three of these women continued to teach and perform for many years; Irma, Anna and Maria Theresa. Irma Duncan taught in New York City for eight years and her students are still dancing and teaching. One of Irma's students was Sylvia Rubinstein Gold.


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