By Ann Daly
This cultural examine of contemporary dance icon Isadora Duncan is the 1st to put her in the inspiration, politics and paintings of her time. Duncan's dancing earned her foreign popularity and inspired generations of yankee women and girls, but the romantic delusion that surrounds her has left a few questions unanswered: What did her audiences see on degree, and the way did they reply? What desires and fears of theirs did she play out? Why, in brief, used to be Duncan's dancing so compelling? First released in 1995 and now again in print, performed into Dance finds Duncan enmeshed in social and cultural currents of her time ? the moralism of the revolutionary period, the inventive radicalism of prewar Greenwich Village, the xenophobia of the Nineteen Twenties, her organization with feminism and her racial inspiration of "Americanness."
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Additional info for Done into Dance: Isadora Duncan in America
Up until Duncan, the only alternative to technical mastery as the defining characteristic of theatrical dance was, at best, amateurism and, at worst, incompetency. " That is not to say that there was no technique to her dancing, but that she ennobled an "artless" aesthetic, transforming it from defect to virtue. According to Duncan, the true dancer—whether amateur or professional—participates in "Nature," thereby engaging in a universal rhythm that embraces the entire cosmos. " Although Duncan used the words "naked" and "nude," she never danced that way and probably never intended complete undress, as we understand those words today.
Where Americans once had seen freedom in Duncan's dancing body, now they saw sedition. " PROLOGUE: DONE INTO 2)<2/2C£ Duncan found herself, for the first time, out of step with her native culture. T h e twenties proved to be the twilight of an American goddess—a social Utopian at a time of Red-bashing, a voluptuary in the age of the flapper, a neoromantic in the first flush of modernism, an individualist in an era of mass culture. She voiced her bitterness loudly when she left, on 3 February 1923; as a result, her citizenship was called into question and deemed lapsed, on a technicality, shortly thereafter.
T h e body, according to Duncan, is the first principle of any aesthetics, for our fundamental understanding of proportion and symmetry arises from our experience of embodiment. 39 It is as a corollary to this first principle that Duncan addresses the issue of dress reform. T h e body is an eternal constant, subject to change only through evolution, not through fashion. Not only are the disfiguring properties of the corset physically and morally degenerate, but they are also aesthetically distasteful.