Isadora Duncan

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  • Topic: Isadora Duncan, Dance
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan was a famous dancer who brought a new kind of dance to the world. She danced out the feelings from deep in her heart. Unlike other dancers in the late nineteenth century, Isadora Duncan danced with flowing motion. She was not a ballerina, and did not like to watch ballet dancers, with their stiff bodies and unnatural pointe shoes. At first she was not liked, but as time went on, Isadora Duncan became a dance revolutionist people all over the world will never forget.

Angela Isadora Duncan was born, one of four, on May 26,1877 in San Francisco, California. Her mother, Dora Duncan, was a piano teacher, and her father, Joseph Duncan was a banker, journalist, and poet. Her parents were both well educated, charming, and an altogether happy couple. However, their marriage fell apart soon after Isadora's birth.

After the divorce, Dora was left with little money to support her four children; Augastin, Raymond, Elizabeth, and Isadora. She gave her music lessons, but still was not bringing in enough money to keep living in the same house. The family began moving from one apartment to another, learning to leave each one a day before the bills came around.

Isadora started school at the age of five. In the late nineteenth century, students were expected to sit still during school, memorizing and reciting their lessons. To Isadora this was "irritating and meaningless." She hated school. She said later in her autobiography that her real education came on the nights when Isadora and her siblings would dance to her mother's music and learn about what they were interested in -- literature and music.

Isadora was told as a child that she would have to learn to depend on herself to get what she needed in life. So as Isadora grew older, she began to understand her family's financial condition and was eager to help. She and her sister Elizabeth began baby-sitting to help the family. To keep their charges busy, they taught them how to dance. The dance lessons were mostly just telling them to wave their arms in the air, but it kept them busy and raised money for the family.

In those days, when dancing was first popular, "nice" women wore clothing from chin to toe, not showing any skin. However, new kinds of dance were surfacing that allowed the "nicest" women to take of their corsets and not have to pretend to have a perfect figure. More and more women began dancing, inspiring Isadora to help her family by working as a dance instructor. She knew how to dance from all the practice she got from dancing at home to their mother's piano music, but she had not yet taken any dancing lessons. Her mother saved up enough money for her to participate in a small dance school, but Isadora disliked her teacher. He made her dance in pointe shoes, which Isadora found painful, ugly, and unnatural. In ballet, everything has a specific step or a traditional pose. Ballerinas dance with stiff bodies, without freedom of movement. This went against the way Isadora liked to dance. She quit her schooling after three lessons. Although her own dance lessons had not gone well, she quit her academic schooling, and started her business. Her neighbors had noticed her gracefulness and began sending their children to be her students. Pretty soon, word got around and Isadora was teaching some of the wealthy girls of San Francisco. Her classes eventually grew so large that Isadora found that her own dance lessons had indeed been unnecessary.

One day, when Isadora was sixteen, her father came back to their apartment with good news. He felt badly about leaving his family with practically nothing, when he had plenty of money to himself. He bought the family a giant mansion with a tennis court, dancing rooms, a barn and a windmill. Then he left, never to be seen by his family again. Elizabeth and Isadora started a dance school and Raymond and Augastin made...
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