www.whyville.net May 18, 2000 Weekly Issue

Isadora Duncan

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Isadora Duncan (1878-1927)
A Dancing Rebel

by Auntie M
  Guest Writer

What is the funnest thing about a prom? Well, the dancing of course! And, as we're dancing our 'heads' off at the Whyville prom, it's good to remember who helped shape those crazy moves we like to show on the dance floor. One of the people who helped make what dancing is today was Isadora Duncan. From a childhood spent in poverty, she went on to become one of the most well-known and well-respected women in the art of dance.

Isadora's parents divorced when she was quite young. Isadora had three younger siblings, and life was very hard for them and their mother. However, their hard lives were eased by all of the music and literature Isadora's mother introduced the children to. Isadora loved music and poetry and especially dancing. Isadora posessed a special gift for dancing, and soon all of the neighborhood children came to Isadora for dance lessons. But, teaching dance to the neighborhood children was not enough for Isadora.

Courtesy of the Museum of the City of San Francisco

Isadora begged her mother to take her to Chicago. The two set out from their home in San Francisco with little money and lots of hope. Isadora danced for many audiences, and they thought she was a 'nice' dancer, but her style of dance and costume were not accepted in the theater world. But, one night in the audience was a theatrical producer, and he loved the way Isadora danced. She was cast in a production of Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' and suddenly Isadora's dance career took off. Isadora danced for hundreds and hundreds of people all over Chicago and New York City, but just as soon as Isadora was popular, she became unpopular, and her family was broke again.

Isadora decided to move her family to Europe and dance for the lively European audiences. They loved her! Isadora based a lot of her dances on the ancient Greek myths she had read as a child. It was Isadora's dream to dance in the land where those myths originated. Isadora began to dance in Greece and taught Greek children the dances of their ancestors. But, Isadora was consided kind of crazy by the local citizens and again, the Duncan family became broke.

It was in Italy that Isadora was again accepted, and the family's wealth returned. Isadora also finally gained acceptence in the United States, after President Theordore Roosevelt said she was, "as innocent as a child". Tragically, Isadora was killed in a car accident in 1927.

Isadora's entire life was spent trying to win over acceptance of theater audiences around the globe. And, in fact, she did. Even though her dancing style was considered "wierd" and "unacceptable", Isadora continued to dance, because that's what she loved most.



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