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Historical information

Angela Isadora Duncan was born in San Francisco on May 26, (27) 1878 and met a tragic death in Nice on September 14, 1927. Isadora Duncan was one of the most enigmatic representatives of 'modern' plastic dance at the beginning of the century. At the time, many believed that Duncan pursued the re-birth of ancient Greek dance, to which she would always reply: 'My dance is not a dance of the past, it is a dance of the future.' Isadora Duncan borrowed 'unique figures of beauty and aesthetics of human movement' from ancient cultures. Duncan reformed the art of dance, combining all its elements, i.e. music, eurhythmics, and costumes, in a harmonious way. 'At first she tried a choreographical interpretation of Beethoven's sonatas, Chopin's nocturnes and preludes, and of works by Gluck, Mozart, Schumann...' Free plastic dance was born at the turn of the 20th century. The first plastic dancers were Loie Fuller (1862-1928), Isadora Duncan (1877-1928) and Ruth Saint-Denis (1878-1968) - three Americans with their individual achievements, who gave the art of dance new ideas and new possibilities, outside ballet and outside school. Duncan renewed the beauty of natural movement; Fuller enriched the play of light and shadow within dance, creating an interplay between body movement and loose materials; and Ruth Saint-Denis established the Eastern cult of eurhythmics and of Eastern dance. Free dancing has expressed the philosophical and aesthetic ideas of the modern in the most complete fashion and, as such, brought discoveries in the field of music, still-life, architecture and theatre into focus. The style of the 'modern' that included all arts at the end of the last century and the early present century clearly manifested a cult of nature united with the movement of Life. The concept of the flow of Life was expressed through the serpentine line which was so popular in the modern. By using his body, a dancer would create this line, secretly uniting Life itself with Art. On December 13, 1904 (according to the old calendar), Isadora Duncan's first performance took place at the St.-Petersburg Noble Assembly. After this, Duncan performed in Petersburg and Moscow in late January 1905. There were then tours from December 1907 until January 1908, summer 1909 and January 1913. Russia during the 'Silver Age' took Isadora Duncan's discoveries of dance for a symbol of freedom. K.K Stanislavsky, the reformer of the Russian theatre, received Duncan's art with raptures in the year 1905. The artists of the 'Mir iskusstva' (World of Art) recognized a new beauty in her art, that was linked with forgotten features of the past. Masters of classical ballet became Duncan's admirers: A.Gorsky, M.Fokine, A.Pavlova. The young Anna Akhmatova also studied plastic dancing. The comprehension of the pure nature of movement opens up the road to the world of dance that Isadora had in mind. She dedicated her life to the art of dance, taught others and gave the world an idea of new dance and of the dancer of the future. In 1906 she wrote: 'Her [the dancer's] movements will resemble the movements of nature ... they will reflect the thoughts of a person, his thoughts about the universe he lives in ... She will express a most elevated spirit in an infinitely free body!' Duncan showed the way to those looking for new forms of body expressiveness. Special schools and studios were established. One of the first to teach eurhythmics at the Art Theatre was E.I.Knipper-Rabeneck. In 1909, she founded a studio which became the most renowned in Moscow. In Petrograd the 'Geptakhor', studios of Z.Verbova, T.Glebova and others came into being. In 1921 Isadora Duncan opened up her own school in Moscow. Duncan's studio miraculously survived until 1949, then was broken up for good. Isadora Duncan herself left Russia forever in 1924. Most of the other studios and plastic dance schools were basically closed by 1930, and free dance itself was declared a foreign tradition and therefore was to be abolished.


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