Isadora Duncan – First Modern Dancer

Isadora Duncan (1877 – 1927)  is known as the mother of  “modern dance,” founding the “New System” of interpretive dance, blending together poetry, music and the rhythms of nature.  She did not believe in the formality of conventional ballet and gave birth to a more free form of dance. She ultimately proved to be the most famous dancer of her time.

Duncan’s philosophy of dance moved away from rigid ballet technique and towards what she perceived as natural movement. To restore dance to a high art form instead of entertainment, she sought the connection between emotions and movement:

“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.”

“The dancer’s body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul.”

Duncan took inspiration from ancient Greece and combined it with an American love of freedom. This is exemplified in her revolutionary costume of a white Grecian tunic and bare feet. Inspired by Grecian forms, her tunics also allowed a freedom of movement corseted ballet costumes and pointe shoes did not. She was very inspired by ancient Greek art and utilized some of those forms in her movement. Duncan wrote of American dancing:

“let them come forth with great strides, leaps and bounds, with lifted forehead and far-spread arms, to dance.”

Her focus on natural movement emphasized steps, such as skipping, outside of codified ballet technique. Duncan also cites the sea as an early inspiration for her movement. Also, she believed movement originated from the solar plexus, which she thought was the source of all movement. It was this philosophy and new dance technique that garnered Duncan the title of the creator of modern dance.

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2 responses to “Isadora Duncan – First Modern Dancer

  1. Pingback: Loïe Fuller and the Serpentine Dance | Embla H. 2013

  2. Pingback: Isadora Duncan | euzicasa

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