To The Great God Pan
There is only one piece of film that shows Isadora Duncan dancing. It is four seconds long, the very end of a performance, and it is followed by eight seconds in which Duncan accepts applause. This small celluloid footprint – light-struck in the manner of Eugène Atget – contains quite a bit of information. It is an afternoon recital, early in the 20th century, and it takes place en plein air, trees in the background, like so much of the painting of the day. Duncan enters the frame turning, her arms positioned in an upward reach not unlike ballet’s codified fourth position, but more naturally placed. ... Because of her thrown back upper body it seems as if she is running, but she is actually slow and steady, offering herself to something so large she doesn’t need to move fast. The dance over, she stands simply and acknowledges her audience with a Christ-like proffering of her palms. In fact, her classical garb is as much that of the sandalled shepherd of men as it is a barefoot goddess of Greek mythology. ‘I have come,’ she once said, ‘to bring about a great renaissance of religion through the dance, to bring the knowledge of the beauty and holiness of the human body through its expression of movements.’ Thus spake Isadora.[more inside]
Between 1959 to 1970, late English film director Ken Russell (The Who's Tommy and Women in Love) created art documentaries for the BBC, many of them unusual adaptations of artists' lives. The documentaries included The Debussy Film, Dante's Inferno, Isadora, Song of Summer, and Always on Sunday. Bonus: Ken Russell in Conversation and Ken Russell at Work. Previously.
The USPS issued new stamps commemorating four American dancers, including Isadora Duncan, for Dance Day last week. A group of Duncan dancers gave an impromptu performance at Dupont Circle In DC in honor of the event. The 135 anniversary of Duncan's birth and the 85th anniversary of her death are both being commemorated this year. Although Isadora has been called the Mother of Modern Dance, she is often remembered for her unconventional life and death as much as her art. [more inside]