Isadora Duncan - Personal life, Career, Later life, Isadora Duncan in culture
Dancer, born in San Francisco, California, USA. Her parents were divorced shortly after her birth and she was raised by her poor but romantic mother, who filled her children with the sounds of music and notions of unconventionality. Isadora showed an early talent for dance, and by age ten left school to teach dancing. She soon began to dance in public, and in 1896 went with her mother to New York City where she joined Augustin Daly's theatre company as a dancer and actress.
Disliking traditional dances, in 1898 she began to perform her own free-style of dancing. She made her debut in London (1900), where she became interested in recreating what she perceived as the ancient Greek dances, and by 1902 was performing her own dances on the Continent to great acclaim. She began a dance school in Berlin, tried to start a ?Temple to the Dance? in Greece (1903?4), had a child by Gordon Craig, the British stage designer, and performed in Russia (1905?8). Wherever she went she gave lecture-demonstrations of what she called ?the dance of the future? based on her improvised movements intended to unite music, poetry, and nature, and usually performed barefoot in revealing Greek tunics and with flowing scarves. Her American tour (1908) was not successful, but she went back to Europe and more acclaim. She also had another child, this one by Paris Singer, heir to the sewing-machine fortune. Tragically both her children drowned while in a car that accidentally rolled into the Seine (1913) and her life became even more erratic, though she showed a new profundity in her dances.
In the following years she travelled in the USA, South America, San Francisco, Athens (Greece), dancing and teaching with mixed success, and tried to start a school in Moscow (1921?2). In 1922 she married the much younger Russian poet, Sergei Essenin, but he was mentally unstable and drank his way through her money. Her US tour of 1923 led to charges of her being a Bolshevik, and they fled back to Russia with no money. Essenin deserted her the next year and committed suicide in 1925. Her school for young dancers had been taken over by others and she was penniless, so she went to France, where she gave one legendary final performance in Paris and wrote her autobiography, My Life (1927).
She died in Nice, France, as dramatically as she had lived, when her long scarf caught in the spokes of a car wheel, breaking her neck. Although her influence on dance and the arts is debated, to some in her day and since she represents one of life' greatest free spirits.
Isadora Duncan (May 26, 1877 - September 14, 1927) was an American dancer.
Born Dora Angela Duncan in San Francisco, California, she is considered by many to be the Mother of Modern Dance.

Personal life
Isadora was born in San Francisco , where she lived with her mother Mary. Her father, Joseph Duncan, had walked out on his family early in life.
Both in her professional and her private life, she flouted traditional mores and morality. The children were in the car with their nanny for a day out, while Isadora stayed at home. The fact that Duse was just coming out of a lesbian relationship with rebellious young lesbian feminist Lina Poletti fueled speculation as to the nature of Duncan and Duse's relationship.
In her last United States tour in 1922-23, she waved a red scarf and bared her breast on stage in Boston, proclaiming, "This is red!
Duncan and de Acosta wrote regularly in often revealing letters of correspondence. In one, written in 1927, Duncan wrote; (quoted by Hugo Vickers in "Loving Garbo") ".....A slender body, hands soft and white, for the service of my delight, two sprouting breasts round and sweet, invite my hungry mouth to eat, from whence two nipples firm and pink, persuade my thirsty soul to drink, and lower still a secret place where I'd fain hide my loving face....."
In another letter, written to de Acosta by Duncan, she writes;
Although the affair would eventually cool, de Acosta and Isadora Duncan remained friends for many years afterward. De Acosta had once proclaimed that from the moment she first saw Isadora Duncan, she looked upon her as a great genius, taken by her completely.

Montparnasse's developing Bohemian environment did not suit her, and in 1909, she moved to two large apartments at 5 Rue Danton where she lived on the ground floor and used the first floor for her dance school.
In 1922 she acted on her sympathy for the social and political experiment being carried out in the new Soviet Union and moved to Moscow. The following year he left Duncan and returned to Moscow where he soon suffered a mental breakdown and was placed in a mental institution. The Russian government's failure to follow through on extravagant promises of support for Duncan's work, combined with the country's spartan living conditions, sent her back to the West in 1924.
Throughout her career, Duncan disliked the commercial aspects of public performance, regarding touring, contracts, and other practicalities as distractions from her real mission: the creation of beauty and the education of the young. The first, in Grunewald, Germany, gave rise to her most celebrated group of pupils, dubbed "the Isadorables," who took her surname and subsequently performed both with Duncan and independently. The second had a short-lived existence prior to World War I at a chateau outside Paris, while the third was part of Duncan's tumultuous experiences in Moscow in the wake of the Russian Revolution.
Duncan's teaching, and her pupils, caused her both pride and anguish. Her sister, Elizabeth Duncan, took over the German school and adapted it to the Teutonic philosophy of her German husband. The Isadorables were subject to ongoing hectoring from Duncan over their willingness to perform commercially (and one, Lisa Duncan, was permanently ostracized for performing in nightclubs); the most notable of the group, Irma Duncan, remained in the Soviet Union after Duncan's departure and ran the school there, again angering Duncan by allowing students to perform too publicly and too commercially.

Later life
By the end of her life, Duncan's performing career had dwindled, and she became as notorious for her financial woes, scandalous love life, and all-too-frequent public drunkenness as for her contributions to the arts. She spent her final years moving between Paris and the Mediterranean, running up debts at hotels or spending short periods in apartments rented on her behalf by an ever-decreasing number of friends and supporters, many of whom attempted to assist her in writing an autobiography, in the hope that it would be sufficiently successful to support her. In a reminiscent sketch, Zelda Fitzgerald recalled how she and Scott sat in a Paris cafe watching a somewhat drunk Duncan. Scott Fitzgerald would speak of how memorable it was, but what Zelda recalled was that while all eyes were watching Duncan, Zelda was able to steal the salt and pepper shakers (shaped like miniature taxicabs) from the table.
Duncan often wore scarves which trailed behind her, and this caused her death in a freak accident in Nice, France. Duncan was yanked violently from the car and dragged for several yards before the driver realized what had happened.
The memoir, given the title Ma Vie, that was meant to have been her financial savior, was published posthumously.
Her life story was made into two movies: Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967) directed by Ken Russell, and Isadora (with Vanessa Redgrave in the title role), in 1968.
Isadora Duncan was cremated, and her ashes were placed in the columbarium of Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.
Isadora Duncan in culture
The 1968 film of her life, Isadora, starred Vanessa Redgrave in the title role. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events books contained the Quagmire triplets named Isadora, Duncan, and Quigley. Isadora and Duncan are quite unlucky, which is a reference to Isadora Duncan's ill-fated life. In a deleted scene of James Cameron's 1997 film Titanic, the character Rose DeWitt Bukater mentions that she wishes that she could escape her horrid life as a wealthy, restricted young woman and become an artist, or a sculpter, or a dancer like Isadora Duncan.
Citing this material
Please include a link to this page if you have found this material useful for research or writing a related article. Content on this website is from high-quality, licensed material originally published in print form. You can always be sure you're reading unbiased, factual, and accurate information.
Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 36