Isadora Duncan (above, in 1908) is a legendary name in the world of dance. Born in San Francisco in 1877, Isadora moved to Paris in 1900 where she taught a style of dance freed from the constraints of classical ballet technique. She also performed, and her reputation for dancing to classical music wearing a Grecian tunic in her bare feet and with hair down made her a celebrity.
In her private life, Duncan's affair with Paris Singer (of the sewing-machine Singers), her tempestuous marriage to poet Sergei Yesenin and an affair with the poetess Mercedes de Acosta (as well as a rumoured dalliance with Eleanora Duse) were manifestations of her free-thinking lifestyle. She embraced Communism; she gave birth to three children out of wedlock, though none survived her.
Fatal accidents plagued Isadora to the end: her father died in the sinking of the SS Mohegan in 1898 and her two young children were killed in a bizarre accident in Paris in 1913 when a car in which they were sitting with their nanny rolled into the Seine. Duncan met her own death in an equally strange manner: riding in an open car, her long scarf became entangled in the rear wheel and she was strangled.
People today may be familiar with the tragedies of Duncan's life and of her pioneering work as a dancer but: what were her dances actually like? The group IsadoraNOW under the direction of Elyssa Dru Rosenberg have invited us to a rehearsal on Halloween evening. Watch a brief video here of dancers from IsadoraNOW performing, and there's a lovely gallery of photos of the Company here. I'm very much anticipating this experience.