Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan: The Girl Who Danced with the Gods 

In the realm of dance, an individual occasionally emerges whose artistry transcends boundaries and reshapes the very essence of movement. Angela Isadora Duncan, known simply as Isadora Duncan, was one such revolutionary. An artist, dancer, and choreographer from North America, she is revered as the creator of modern dancing. This short profile (a picture of her) delves into the life, art, and profound impact of the woman who danced with the gods. 

Isadora Duncan: Tragedy and Glory 

From California, EE.UU. This revolutionary woman was born in 1877 and spent all her life being of good character. 

Isadora Duncan`s life was marked by car accidents. In 1913, her two children, Deidre and Patrick, died in the Seine River when their car, destined for Versailles, fell into the water. Then, in 1927 at the edge of fifty, she died during the French summer due to the long scarf she wore around her neck. It got stuck in the wheel, choking her for a moment. 

Her father and mother were divorced. Constantly changing, moving. The mother was not religious, always worked outside, and was a feminist. Isadora’s childhood wasn’t usual for those years, she had extraordinary freedom, and she was thankful that nobody told her what was right and wrong. 

Isadora Duncan

In her personal life, she had several partners, several of whom she recognized, but she never made a name for herself at their expense, even though they were famous. They were Gordon Craig (British symbolist), Mercedes de Acosta (American poetess), Serguéi Yesenin (Russian poet), Paris Singer (member of a wealthy family), and other names from women and men; she was bisexual. 

Deidre and Patrick bore the last name Duncan, but Isadora chose to raise them alone, just like her mother did when she divorced Joseph Duncan. 

What she created  

Modern dancing has a little more than one hundred years of existence. Isadora is considered the creator of this style, but there were other pioneers like Loie Füller (who used fabrics and lights as tools of expression), Doris Humphrey and Ruth Saint Denis. 

The aim was precise: break the ballet.  

Break all the standards of expression, movement, music, and restrictive clothes. The ballet was rigid, always aspiring to fly, with uncomfortable shoes and with classical music.  

On the other hand, the modern dance went to the floor and worked with the body’s weight, with gravity (Isadora did not dabble in the “Falling and recovering” technique of Doris Humphrey). Still, she tried to express as much as possible, in an individual way and express the ideals of the 20th century too. 

This kind of dance is not married to a music genre; it could even be danced in complete silence and with no shoes. It could be danced with huge, dramatic fabric such as wings, a cute dress, or a togue.  

The Essence of the Style  

The first important fact is that Isadora´s art mimicked the sea, and when she thought of the sea, she thought of freedom. 

She said that she has danced since she was in her mother’s belly and that because of an existence crisis, the woman only fed herself with oysters and champagne, the meal of Aphrodite, or that is what she wrote in her book. There is no doubt that she liked to romanticize her life. 

The inspiration for her dance style was the classic era, the Romans and the Greeks, Aphrodite, Athena, and Olympus. Although she was interested in the traditional forms and used robes, Isadora didn’t follow any movement structure. Yes, she utilised some postures of ballet, but what she did was completely new. Everybody could see it.  

Isadora danced with the chest, expanding her shoulder girdle to the sky, facing up, moving her hands like she is imploring to the gods that blessed her with grace. Furthermore, her feet used to move so fast, it seemed like she was floating.   

She liked to dance barefoot, another transgression to classical dancing that always used uncomfortable feet.  

Some dancers tried to imitate her style, and even continue nowadays. But art is not just a perfect technique; it happens inside the artist. And what she had in her mind, what she really felt when she moved, is unmatched. 

Exists just a video of thirty seconds where it is possible to appreciate how special she was doing “her thing”, it still inspires people, even to write some verses: 

Devotion to bare feet. 

A Greek statue. 

Thorax, thymus, solar plexus. 

Facing up  

And talking with the gods: 

“Aphrodite, is that you?” 

I can hear the Olympus. 

Endless wave movement, 

Nobody can believe her momentum. 

They had dreamed of her, 

of possessing her, 

and she gave them a taste 

and then she leaves. 

She always leaves.

Giuliana Urban


Duncan, Isadora. (1938). “Mi vida”. Editorial Losada S.A.  

Badás, Manu. (6 de marzo, 2021). “Qué es la danza moderna”. ReBaila.