Museum of Motherhood

Inspiring Women – Isadora Duncon (1878-1927)

donated by Corbis- Bettmann

Isadora is known as the mother of  “modern dance,” founding the “New System” of interpretive dance, blending together poetry, music and the rhythms of nature.  She did not believe in the formality of conventional ballet and gave birth to a more free form of dance, dancing barefoot and in simple Greek apparel. Her fans recognized her for her passionate dancing and she ultimately proved to be the most famous dancer of her time.

In 1895 Isadora and her family moved east to pursue her professional dancing career. She opened In New York as a fairy with August Daly’s company in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She was also funded by wealthy New Yorkers to give private appearances. In 1898 she expanded her dancing career by traveling to London on a cattle boat with her mother, her sister Elizabeth and brother, Raymond. Her first professional European performance was at the Lyceum theater in London on February 22, 1900. She turned down substantial dancing offers to join Loie Fuller’s touring company and toured Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Berlin. She studied for one year in Greece where she purchased Kopanos Hill outside of Athens to construct an elaborate dancing stage. Her performances were based on interpretations of classical music including Strauss’ Blue Danube, Chopin’s Funeral March, Tchaikovsky’s Symphonie Pathetique and Wagnerian works.

Later in her life she opened a dancing school in Moscow where the Russian government promised to provide her with room and board and a schoolroom. However, after the school was built the government did not support her. To support herself, she returned to the stage unsuccessfully in America and then toured Europe once more. She died in Europe.

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