Duncan, Isadora

Duncan, Isadora ĭzˌədôrˈə dŭngˈkən [key], 1878–1927, American dancer, b. San Francisco. She had little success in the United States when she first created dances based on Greek classical art. But in Budapest (1903), Berlin (1904), and later in London and New York City (1908), she triumphed. An innovator, pioneer, and liberator of expressive movement, she was inspired by the drama of ancient Greece. She danced barefoot to music that was often not written to be danced. Her costume, a revealing adaptation of the Greek tunic, was complemented by several colored scarves draped from her shoulders. Through her many tours, her schools in Berlin, Paris, Moscow, and London, and her daring and dynamic personality, she greatly influenced the development of modern dance. She was briefly (1922–23) married to the Russian poet Sergei Yesenin. In 1927 she gave her last concert in Paris; she died when her scarf caught in the wheel of her car while she was motoring at Nice.

See her autobiography (1927, repr. 1966) and The Art of The Dance, ed. by S. Cheney (1928, repr. 1970); biographies by I. Duncan (1958), W. Terry (1964), V. Seroff (1971), F. Blair (1987), and P. Kurth (2001).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Dance: Biographies