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Isadora Duncan
1878 - 1927

World Renowned, She Broke Old Rules
to Pave Way for Modern Dance

Isadora Duncan was world-renowned as a premiere classical dancer. She was also a rebel and a controversial figure flouting the social mores and the dancing style of the times. She refused to be bound by the old rules that applied to both female behavior and dance forms. ■ Isadora Duncan was born May 27, 1878, in San Francisco. In her biography she claims Ulster-Scottish ancestry. She studied ballet as a child but soon decided to dance purely as natural movement dictated. She looked to nature for inspiration through what she claimed were its natural rhythms like ocean waves, for example. ■ She gave concerts in New York and Chicago before deciding to go to Europe about 1900. She was a success in Paris with appearances following in Budapest and Berlin. She was now giving serious attention to dancing as an art form. ■ When she visited Russia in 1905, dance masters there were profoundly impressed by her style and innovation. She made several American tours, the last being in 1922-23. ■ Miss Duncan was one of the first dancers to interpret symphonic music via the dance. She was deeply influenced by Gluck, Brahms, Wagner and Beethoven. More than a half century ahead of her time, she insisted on dancing barefoot in a skimpy free-flowing tunic that scandalized the public. But it did much to emancipate women from restrictive Victorian clothing. ■ Unmarried, she bore two children who were drowned in a tragic accident in 1913. The tragedy had a profound adverse effect on her psyche, but she married the Russian poet Sergei Esenin and continued her career. ■ Isadora Duncan died September 14, 1927, at Nice, France, in another fatal accident. A long scarf she was wearing became entangled in a rear wheel of the open car in which she was riding.
 

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546

2014