Isadora Duncan Essay

1225 words - 5 pages

“Movements are as eloquent as words.” (Duncan, 440) Mid nineteenth centuries was a period of rigid and standardized ballet which tortured and restrained their body and mind. Against that society's convention, there was a woman who tried to communicate with people through her dance. She, Isadora Duncan, was a pioneer of the modern dance, and her dance embraced her sophisticated ideals. Even though the public remember her only with the complicated and scandalous rumors about her lovers and dramatic death by scarf, Isadora Duncan’s new style of dance which led a new paradigm reflected freedom–not only for herself but also for the society. Purely, she extricated people to the freedom by directly ...view middle of the document...

(Duncan and Sheldon, 101) She denied the conventional school education and contended the education from the nature. She left school at ten to achieve freedom to learn what she truly wants and needs.(Duncan, ) Her educational philosophy was based on the theory that nature like sea waves and forests are the best teachers for students. Her dance resembled naturally flowing sea waves, poppies swaying in the wind, and bright California sunlight. Also, she represented her political opinion through her dance. She often danced along with ‘La Marsellies’, ‘Carmagnole’ or ‘The Internationale’, the national anthem of Soviet Union.(Duncan,) She endeavored to gain a freedom to express her political stance, and she often found a medium through dance. Duncan said, “From the first I have only danced my life.” (Duncan, 7~9)
Duncan’s dance also exceedingly affected the emancipation of women at that period. George Balanchine, the father of American ballet, once said “The ballet is a purely female thing; it is a woman, a garden of beautiful flowers, and man is the gardener.” (Balanchine, 1) The traditional ballet forced women to dance like they are sexually passive and weak. In her journal, Khudaverdian proposed that physique of ballet is based on the principles that males are predominant and females are significantly subservient to men. (Khudaverdian, 48) In order to confront against that notion, Duncan created the choreography which generated images of “strong, self-reliant women, a tradition that would culminate in the powerful, mythic heroines”, according to Copeland. (Copeland, 2) Ann Daly, in her article Isadora Duncan and the Distinction of Dance, states that if ballet was subordinate to the “self to a male”, modern dance introduced by Isadora Duncan can be seen as finding oneself “through a female, democratic experiment.” (Daly, 19) In her life, Isadora Duncan constantly said, “I have my will.” (Nahumck et al., 53) She ignited her theory of women emancipation and independence through free dance, rejecting previous style. To the people disparage her for baring her body which symbolizes emancipation from sexual oppression, Duncan contradicted, “Why should I care what part of my body I reveal? If my art is symbolic of any one thing, it is symbolic of the freedom of woman and her emancipation from the hidebound conventions that are the warp and the woof of New England Puritanism. To expose one's body is art; concealment is vulgar.” (Kurth, 463)
Her movements and dance costumes were a rebellion against the imprisonment and fetters of social convention. Melvin Landsberg described Duncan as “both the greatest living dancer and the symbol of the body’s deliverance from mid-Victorian taboos.” (Landsberg, 196) Dancers in that time...

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