Born in 1877 in the United States, she is considered by many to be the creator of modern dance. She lived in Western Europe and the Soviet Union from the age of 22 until her death at age 50.
Duncan’s fondness for flowing scarves was the cause of her death in an automobile accident in Nice, France in 1927 when she was passenger in an Amilcar, and her silk scarf, draped around her neck, became entangled around the open-spoked wheels and rear axle, breaking her neck.
”No, I can’t explain the dance to you; if I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.”
When she danced, Isadora Duncan wore very thin clothing. Sometimes she dressed in long white tunics, the kind of clothing worn by ancient Greek women. She wanted people to see her body as she skipped, jumped and ran barefoot across the stage. Some people criticized her for doing this. They thought it was not moral to dress this way. At the time, most women wore dresses that covered as much of the body as possible, especially the arms and legs. Isadora Duncan said ballet was “ugly and against nature.” She wanted her “modern” dance style to be free and natural.
Nature is the source of the dance. The movement of the waves, of winds, of the earth is ever in the same lasting harmony. We do not stand on the beach and inquire of the ocean what was its movement of the past and what will be its movement in the future. Every creature moves according to its nature … that is according to its feelings and physical structure. The movements of the savage were natural and beautiful. So too were the movements of the classical Greeks wearing simple tunics and sandals.
“In my school, I shall not teach the children to imitate my movements …but to make their own. The primary or fundamental movements of the new school of the dance must have within them the seeds from which will evolve all other movements, each in turn to give birth to others in an unending sequence of still higher and greater expression, thoughts, and ideas.» Isadora Duncan
“The dancer of the future will be one whose body and soul have grown so harmoniously together that the natural language of that soul will have become the movement of the body. This is the mission of the dancer of the future. She is coming, the dancer of the future: the free spirit, who will inhabit the body of new women; more glorious than any woman that has yet been; more beautiful than all women in past centuries: The highest intelligence in the freest body.” Isadora Duncan
“If we seek the real source of the dance, if we go to nature,
we find that the dance of the future is the dance of the past,
the dance of eternity, and has been and always will be the same…
The movement of waves, of winds, of the earth
is ever the same lasting harmony.”