isadora duncan virtual museum
end ` texts `` english ` ðóññêèé

A Selection Of Isadora Duncan Dances
The Shubert Selection By Sylvia Gold

This book is dedicated to my teacher, Irma Duncan.                     
To My Husband Ben, Thank You.

A Selection Of Isadora Duncan Dances
The Shubert Selection
By Sylvia Gold,
Duncan Dancer, Teacher, & Director
Founder of the Isadora Duncan Repertory Dance Company
Dance Writer & Copyist:
Lorraine Spada, Certified Teacher, Suton Dance Writing
Original Dances By Isadora Duncan,
Choreographed To Music By Franz Schubert
Dance Writingî & Copy Editors:
Ann Berg 
Helene Byrne, Certified Teacher, Suton Dance Writing
Iris Berry Rogers, Certified Teacher, Suton Dance Writing
Valerie Suton, Inventor Suton Dance Writing

Dance Photographs:
Photographs of Sylvia Gold & Ellen O’Reily by Donald Malpass
Photograph of the, Three Graces by
Jaye R. Philips

A Selection Of Isadora Duncan Dances
The Schubert Selection
Copyright @ 1984 By The Center For Suton Movement Writing, Inc.
Pan American and Universal Copyrights Secured
ISBN Number 0-914336-20-7

NOTICE This book is copyrighted in the United States of America and in al countries signatory to the Pan American and Universal Copyright Conventions. No part of it may be reproduced in any way unless my written permission has been obtained. If the choreography in this book is performed, credit to Sylvia Gold, to Suton Dance Writing, and to A Selection of Isadora Duncan Dances must be mentioned in the writen program accompanying the performance.  Sylvia Gold & Valerie J.

Suton Book Designed by Jayne Gunderson Layout Production by Valerie Suton Printed and Published in the United States of America Dance Writingî is a trademark belonging to the The Center For Suton Movement Writing, Inc., a non-profit, tax exempt, educational membership organization.

Published by The Suton Movement Writing Press The Center for Suton Movement Writing, Inc.
P.O. Box 517
La Jola, California 92038-0517
Tele: 858-456-0098 
Fax: 858-456-0020

The Cover photo of
Elen Reily by Donald Malpas

Table of Contents

Foreword by Gemze de Lappe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Introduction by Sylvia Gold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Isadora Duncan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9
The Costumes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
The Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
The Dance Writer & Copyist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
Suton Dance Writing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
The Schubert Selection
The Lullaby Solo - Op. 33 No. 7 . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .21
The Ballspiel Solo - Op. 91a No. 10  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
The Tanagra Solo - Op. 9b No. 16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35
The Slide Solo - Op. 33 No. 3  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
The Waterstudy Solo - Op. 91a No. 12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
The Moment Musicale Solo - Op. 94 No. 3  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57
The Duet - Op. 33 No. 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
The Three Graces - Op. 96 No. 15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75
Glossary of Classic Isadora Duncan Steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93
Glossary of Suton Dance Writing Symbols. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97
Selected Bibliography  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100
Selected Video Tapes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100


Having studied the Isadora Duncan Dance as a child, I understand its contribution to the artistic world. I have always felt that my ability to give more emotional quality to my solo dance roles in Broadway musicals came from the Duncan experience. When Agnes de Mille took her American Dance Heritage program across the country, she acknowledged the place that Isadora holds in the history of American dance. When I performed with Agnes de Mille, two of Isadora’s dances were on the program. One of the dances, the Three Graces, is the last piece in this book. The second dance was a duet choreographed to a Chopin mazurka. I hope this second dance will be included in future books by Sylvia Gold. I have seen two well known prima ballerinas perform dances in the ‘style’ of Isadora Duncan.  Their performances were taken from vague recollections and impressions of Isadora. Although performed beautifully, the choreography was fuzzy, unstructured and unmusical when compared with Isadora’s originals. This book preserves the Duncan dances and their style. It is my hope that dancers wil use this book to recreate Isadora’s choreography and that this will rectify past problems in reconstruction. Hopefully future generations will perform these dances as Isadora would have wished. Irma Duncan expresses regret in her autobiography Duncan Dancer that neither Isadora nor Irma were able to leave some tangible result of this transient art. The present collaboration between Sylvia Gold and Valerie Suton should be the beginning of the fulfilment of another of Irma and Isadora’s dreams; to bring the art of the Duncan Dance to a wide circle of dancers and through them, to an even wider audience.

Gemze de Lappe

About Sutton Dance Writing

Isadora Duncan was the first to free dance from the many constraints imposed by classical ballet. She can therefore be rightfuly caled the mother of modern ‘barefoot’ dance. When watching a trained and gifted Duncan dancer, the viewer is struck by the complete integration of music and movement and may mistakenly feel that little technique is required to perform the dance. Some of my students are surprised that a Duncan class starts with warm-ups at the barre, continues with a center adagio and ends with structured movements and combinations across the floor. Isadora Duncan dancing is not ‘fliting around’ like so many people think, nor is it ‘unplanned’ ‘un-choreographed’ interpretive dancing. Isadora’s choreography has as much structure as music. Yet Isadora was always aware that technique is only a means to an end. An analogy can be made between the study and performance of music and that of Duncan dance. Appreciating a Chopin Nocturne requires an interpretation by a skilled and talented pianist. Similarly, a successful performance of Duncan dances takes a gifted dancer trained in the Duncan technique. Because Isadora Duncan broke away from the rigidity of classical balet, it was commonly believed that Duncan and ballet were incompatible and that balet training would actually hinder dancers learning Duncan. In my experience this is not so. Ballet training or rigorous training in modern dance can go a long way towards helping a dancer master Duncan technique provided that he or she has an aptitude for Isadora’s concepts. Many people are under the misconception that Isadora simply improvised at performances, and did not set formal choreography. This is completely mistaken. The primary motivation for this book is to begin the preservation of the rich choreography that Isadora left as her legacy. My teacher, Irma Duncan, was the first to describe Duncan technique in The Technique of Isadora Duncan, published in 1937. I strongly recommend this book. The Duncan dancer always listens to the music first to achieve an understanding of the phrasing and dynamics of the composition. The dancer is like an instrument - a visualization of the music. The impulse of the music is felt before starting each movement. The music is never anticipated.  Spiritual feeling precedes the physical. Every dance is an inspired celebration of life. In true Duncan dancing, the feeling originates in the soul, achieving a perfect blend of the two arts, dance and music. The Schubert dances notated in this book are representative of Isadora’s earliest compositions. They are technicaly less dificult than some of her later dances, but each dance is a work of genius with an indi- vidual character that the dancer must understand and feel.

Sylvia Gold

Painting By Fritz August von Kaulbach
Courtesy of Isadora Duncan, The Art
Of The Dance, Theatre Arts Books

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan was born in Oakland’ California in 1877. Her mother was an accomplished pianist who introduced her to the great composers, whose music later inspired Isadora’s creation of a new dance form. Isadora’s genius was appreciated by her family when she was very young, but her revolutionary ideas on dance were not wel accepted in America. When Isadora was in her teens, the family moved to Europe, where her genius was recognized. Even so, raising money was always difficult, until Isadora met her ‘Lohengrin’, an American heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. With his financial support, she founded schools of Duncan dance in France and Germany. Eventually, Isadora gained great fame in both Europe and America; in fact, in the entire world. Severe tragedy struck at the peak of her fame. Her two children were drowned when their car rolled into the Seine.  When she eventualy returned to her Art with the encouragement of the great actress Eleanor Duse, her choreography reflected her suffering. Isadora’s dream was to teach children who would then continue to teach others. This was more important to her than performances, although performing was important as a motivating force and also to help finance her school. One of her objectives was to obtain government support for the school. The first and only government to sponsor her work was the Soviet Union, and this support lasted approximately ten years. Isadora Duncan died as dramaticaly as she had lived. She wore scarves which were long enough to trail behind her. On September 19, 1927 in France, her scarf became entangled in the rear wheel of a convertible car. When the car started, she was strangled. Isadora died but her dream lives on. Six of her most gifted students eventually setled in the United States, and were adopted by Isadora Duncan and took her last name. Only three of these women continued to teach and perform for many years; Irma, Anna and Maria Theresa, Irma Duncan taught in New York City for eight years and her students are still dancing and teaching. One of Irma’s students was Sylvia Rubinstein Gold.

The Costumes

Isadora discovered that the gestures of antique Greek sculpture were in perfect harmony with her own concepts of movement. From this it naturaly folowed that Greek tunics were the correct costumes. The original costumes as worn by the ‘Duncan dancers’ for these Schubert dances were China silk. They were washed and then twisted very tightly while stil wet and allowed to dry in this fashion. When completely dry, the pleated fabric clung to the body contours. Three yards of elastic had to be crisscrossed and pinned carefully where they crossed in front and back. In recent years we have tried to simplify this. No twisting is necessary when using fine and supple jersey or polyester materials. About three yards, 36 inches wide is necessary for one costume, 1 1/2yards for each side. Cut the three yards in half. Tack the shoulders together with very few stitches, about two inches from the ends. The length should be down to the ankles or slightly above. Sew the seams together from below the armpit, leaving a large opening for the movement of the arms. In the front, at about eight or nine inches from either side, cut the material up towards the middle of the thigh. For the jersey or polyester fabric you need three yards of very narrow, rounded elastic.  Start with the elastic held from the back. Cross it in front as you loop it near the breast bone. Pul it under the shoulders and loop it as you cross it in back.  Pull it around to the front, near your waist and tie. Three yards of China silk can be draped and tied over the left shoulder if desired as a scarf.

The Author

Sylvia Gold (Nee Rubinstein) was born in New York City in 1923, four years before Isadora met her tragic and dramatic death. Her parents had seen Isadora dance, and like many others, were very impressed. Sylvia loved to dance freely to music at a very young age. Her parents recognized her talents and at the age of five she was enroled in the Denishawn School, taught by Ruth St. Denis. The emphasis was on the Eurhythmics method of Jacques Dalcroze. Sylvia then enrolled in the studio of Isadora’s sister Elizabeth Duncan, where she began her training with Elizabeth and Anita Zahn, a teacher of the Duncan dance. Soon after, Irma Duncan came to the United States and opened the ‘Isadora Duncan Studios’ at Carnegie Hal in New York City. The then seven year old Sylvia was auditioned by Irma and her parents received a note that had a profound effect on Sylvia’s life. ‘Miss Duncan is extremely anxious to have Sylvia return. She considers her exceptionaly talented.’ Sylvia studied and performed with Irma for the next seven years. In addition to the many studio performances, there was also a gala performance in 1934 at Madison Square Garden. In this performance Irma fulfilled a dream of Isadora’s by choreographing a dance pageant to the chorale movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The New York Philharmonic was conducted by Walter Damrosch who had often performed with Isadora. Sylvia was one of Irma’s students participating in this unusual concert. Irma Duncan left New York permanently in 1937 mind this temporarily diverted Sylvia’s dance career. Sylvia entered the High School of Music and Art, majoring in music and in 1944 received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from New York University. Through al the activities of marriage and motherhood, Sylvia maintained her love of the Duncan dance. During the post World War II period, Duncan dancing was effectively eclipsed by the modern dance movement, typified by Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey. During this period, Sylvia studied various modern dance techniques and later, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, turned to her early Duncan training to teach in the Boston area. Isadora had prophecized that her art would first die out but would eventualy be revived. In 1977, Sylvia began to commute to New York City to work with Hortense Kooluris, Gemze de Lappe and Julia Levien and the four of them, al students of Irma Duncan, performed as soloists along with a company of younger dancers in a complete program of Isadora Duncan choreography at Riverside Church in New York City. Earlier, Annabelle Gamson, Sylvia’s sister-in-law, who as a child studied Duncan with Julia Levien, startled the dance world by performing Duncan dances to an ecstatic audience and raving reviews. Isadora’s prophecy was true: fifty years after her death her work was again popular.

Since then, performances of Duncan dance, too many to list, have taken place in different parts of the world. Because of this new interest in Duncan, much of Isadora’s choreography has been restudied and restaged. Under the direction of Sylvia Gold and Gemze de Lappe, members of the Boston Repertory Ballet Company introduced Isadora’s dances to a Boston audience in 1978. Several of these performers have continued to perform Duncan and under Sylvia’s direction have formed the Boston based ‘Isadora Duncan Repertory Dance Company’ performing to enthusiastic audiences. The Isadora Duncan Repertory Dance Company continues to perform. As a teacher, performer, director and writer, Sylvia Gold is fulfiling Isadora Duncan’s dream by keeping the art of the Duncan dance alive.

The Dance Writer & Copyist

Lorraine Spada is the Dance Writer and Copyist for this manuscript. A certified teacher of Suton Dance Writingî, Lorraine worked with Sylvia Gold for two years, watching the movements of the Duncan dances as Sylvia danced them, and writing each movement in Sutton Dance Writingî. After each dance was written in rough draft form, Lorraine then copied the dances again with a fine ink pen for publication. Lorraine, a member of the dance faculty at The Boston Conservatory, teaches Sutton Dance Writingî to dance majors, a requirement for graduation. She also teaches Dance Writingî to students in her own school, the Lorraine Spada School of Dance in Wilmington, Massachusets. Lorraine has two degrees, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Boston Conservatory, and a Masters in Human Movement Education from Boston University.

Sutton Dance Writing

Sutton Dance Writing is a new, international movement notation system similar in practicality to music notation. just as music uses notes on a five-lined staff to record sound, Sutton Dance Writingî records choreography on a five-lined staff to preserve dance for generations to come. Sutton Dance Writingî invented by Valerie Sutton, is only one section of a larger movement notation system caled Sutton Movement Writing and Shorthand The system consists of five sections, (1) Dance Writingî, for recording dance choreography (2) Mime Writingî, for writing the movements of mime performances (3) Sports Writingî, for recording ice skating, gymnastics and other sports (4) Science Writingî, for writing the movements of physical therapy and medical and scientific studies and (5) Sign Writing the written form for sign languages used by deaf people. The SIGN WRITERî NEWSPAPER, which is sent to deaf people in 41 countries, is written in Sign Writingî. Sutton Dance Writingî was the first section to be developed. The first textbook on Dance Writingî was pub- lished in 1973. It is a pictorial system. Visual stick figures dance across the page like a cartoon, creating a film-like impression on paper.

The stick figure is placed on a five-lined staff. Each line of the staff represents a specific level. The bottom line is the ground on which the figure stands. The next line up is the level of the knees when the figure stands straight. The hips are on the next line, and the shoulders the next. A Face-Direction Line crosses the shoulder line, and facial expressions are written to the left of the figure: When the figure bends its knees, it lowers accordingly on the five-lined staff. When the figure jumps in the air, the drawing rises accordingly. The five-lined staff is a level guide and remains stable while the figure moves up and down. Figures and symbols are written from left to right, writing movement position by position, as if stopping a film frame by frame. For an example, the classical ballet step the pas de chat is written below: 15

Sutton Dance Writingî combines the abstract with the visual by placing visually constructed Ñ3-D Symbols’ below each stick figure drawing. These ‘3-D Symbols’ add further information about the third dimension (depth). The '3-D Symbols' show the overhead view, as if looking down on top of the head, seeing the limbs projecting in various directions. The first row of symbols below the five- lined staff represents the overhead view of the upper body (the arms). The second row represents the overhead view of the lower body (the legs). Smal ‘3-D Symbols’ show in-out depth. Large ‘3-D Symbols’ show up-down depth. Numbers placed beside the ‘3-D Symbols’ notate minute rotation (turn-in, turn- out) of the limbs.  Dynamics of movement, its effort and quality, are written over or under the staff with special symbols. Some of the symbols come directly from written music. For example, a curved line is writen under the staff, illustrating smooth movement, and a grace note over the staff indicates ‘un-even’ movement: Counts from the music are placed over the staff. Repeat signs in Dance Writing are also similar to repeats in music notation.

The box to the left of every staff line is the Pattern Stage. This Pattern Stage rep- resents the stage on which the movement is performed. The pattern is seen from overhead. A triangle placed on the Pattern Stage represents the starting position of the first stick figure on the line of notation to the right. The point of the triangle indicates the direction the first stick figure faces. A hollow triangle represents a female, and a darkened triangle represents a male. A ‘v’ rep- resents the person in general. The patern of movement is writen with a line com- ing from the triangle, finishing with a dot. The dot is the place on stage where the last figure on that line of notation finishes. The next line of notation has a new Pattern Stage, which continues the pattern where the previous Patern Stage left off. The triangle on this new Patern Stage wil be placed where the dot was on the previous Pattern Stage. The notation for two dancers is writen on two separate staffs. The two staffs are connected under the same music counts.

There are three Pattern Stages; one for each dancer, and one in between the two staffs that shows both dancers moving together: 17

When more than two dancers move at one time, the notation for each person is placed on a separate staff. The movements for each dancer are coordinated under the same counts, placed above the first staff with numbers. If many dancers move in unison, their movements are writen only once, on one staff line, which shortens the group dance manuscript greatly. Large pattern stages are written at the bottom of the page, showing the interaction of the dancers. Group dance scores in Sutton Dance Writingî have the same advantage of instrumental scores in written music.

The system records all forms of dance, including ballet, modem, jazz, tap, folk/ethnic and social dances. Here are a few examples: Sutton Dance Writingî has been taught in the United States, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Canada and Brazil. The system has been presented to The Royal Danish Balet, the University of California, the University of Oklahoma, the Ceccheti Council of America, the University of Southern Mississippi, the Walnut Hill School of Performing Arts, Boston University, the Edra Toth School and the Marblehead School of Ballet in Massachusetts, the San Diego Ballet School, Connecticut Colege and the Wisconsin Mime School. Sutton Dance Writingî , a requirement for dance majors, is part of the dance degree program at the Boston Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts. The Center For Sutton Movement Writing is a technical center that trains and certifies teachers in Sutton Movement Writing and publishes textbooks, Sheet Dance, and educational materials on the system. A non-profit, tax-exempt, educational, membership corporation, the Center is located in Southern California, with a branch office for Sutton Dance Writing at the prestigious Dance Department of the Boston Conservatory in Massachusets. Certified teachers in the system offer courses, correspondence courses, lecture-demonstrations and prepare textbooks and Sheet Dance for publication.

For information on Suton Dance Writing, contact: The Center for Suton Movement Writing, Inc. P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, California 92038-0517, Tele: 858-456-0098, Fax: 858-456-0020,

Selected Bibliography

Duncan, Irma. Duncan Dancer. Middletown, Connecticut, Wesleyan University Press, 1966.
Duncan, Irma. The Technique Of Isadora Duncan. Brooklyn, New York, A Dance Horizons Republication, 1970.
Duncan, Isadora. My Life (autobiography). New York, Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1955.
Duncan, Isadora. The Art Of The Dance. New York, Theatre Arts Books, 1977.

Selected Video Tapes

Duncan, Isadora Centenary Dance Company. The Isadora Duncan Centenary Dance Company. New York, Riverside Dance Festival at Riverside Church. Video tapes located at Lincoln Center Dance Library, Tapes I and II, 1978.
Gold, Sylvia and Walker, David Hatch, and Lehrer, Phylis and @, The Isadora Duncan Repertory Dance Company. The Dance of Isadora Duncan. Boston, Massachusetts, Wheelock Colege, November 17, 1979.  Video taped by WGBH Educational Television in Boston.
Kendall, Elizabeth and Arcdolino, Emile. Trailblazers Of Modern Dance, Dance In America Series. National Educational Television (N.E.T.), 1977.

Valerie Sutton Inventor, Sutton Dance Writingî
DanceWriting® Sheet Dance
Center For Sutton Movement Writing, Inc.
a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational organization
P.O. Box 517...La Jolla...CA...92038-0517...USA
Voice: 858-456-0098...TTY: 858-456-0010...Fax: 858-456-0020

Valerie Sutton

* ` ` ` ` ` `

© open resource

begin ` texts ` home