Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Isadora Duncan

In the Theatre of Dionysus, Athens (Photo by Raymond Duncan)

Adieu, mes amis. Je vais à la gloire. And with those final words, modern dance icon Isadora Duncan died on this day 78 years ago. Her death came suddenly and unexpectedly in 1927 in Nice. On the evening of September 14th, she went out for a drive with a young mechanic who sold Bugatti racing cars. Just as the car started, Isadora flung the end of her shawl over her shoulder. The long fringe caught in the spokes of the spinning rear wheel; the heavy silk tightened around the beautiful neck. She died instantly.

Her brother Raymond brought her body to Paris. Thousands of mourners, famous and unknown, had gathered at the cemetery gate. During the cremation, Marcellac sang Beethoven's in Questa Tomba Oscura, which Eleonora Duse had sung to comfort Isadora after the death of her children, Deirdre and Patrick.
“I have discovered the dance. I have discovered the art which has been lost for two thousand years. … I bring you the idea that is going to revolutionize our entire epoch."

"I am asked to speak upon the `Dance of the Future'—yet how is it possible? In fifty years I may have something to say. Besides, I have always found it indiscreet for me to speak of my dance. The people who are in sympathy with me understand what I am trying to do better than myself, the people who are not in sympathy, understand better than I why they are not."

"I had three great Masters, the three great precursors of the Dance in our century — Beethoven, Nietzsche and Wagner. Beethoven created the dance in mighty rhythm. Wagner in sculptural form. Nietzsche in spirit. Nietzsche was the first dancing philosopher."

Purchase My Life by Isadora Duncan from

Purchase The Loves of Isadora, starring Vanessa Redgrave and directed by Karel Reisz from