By Ann Daly
This cultural learn of contemporary dance icon Isadora Duncan is the 1st to put her in the concept, politics and paintings of her time. Duncan's dancing earned her overseas reputation and prompted generations of yank women and girls, but the romantic fantasy that surrounds her has left a few questions unanswered: What did her audiences see on degree, and the way did they reply? What desires and fears of theirs did she play out? Why, briefly, was once Duncan's dancing so compelling? First released in 1995 and now again in print, performed into Dance unearths Duncan enmeshed in social and cultural currents of her time ? the moralism of the innovative period, the creative radicalism of prewar Greenwich Village, the xenophobia of the Twenties, her organization with feminism and her racial thought of "Americanness."
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Extra resources for Done into Dance: Isadora Duncan in America
My analysis shifts across the literal and the metaphorical bodies, for where, and how, does a line separate them? As new as Duncan's dancing body was, it was forged out of existing discourses and practices, which she either seized or rejected, according to her artistic needs and desire for cultural legitimacy. She very carefully framed the dancing body (chapter 2) as a moral practice, reconstructing and privileging it as the nexus of science, nature, art, and metaphysics. As for her technique and performance practices, she offered to her audiences the illusion of spontaneous freedom, where there was actually conscious craft and, indeed, considerable labor.
In the aftermath of the Red Scare, to be an idealistic "revolutionary" was no longer tenable. Where Americans once had seen freedom in Duncan's dancing body, now they saw sedition. " PROLOGUE: DONE INTO 2)<2/2C£ Duncan found herself, for the first time, out of step with her native culture. T h e twenties proved to be the twilight of an American goddess—a social Utopian at a time of Red-bashing, a voluptuary in the age of the flapper, a neoromantic in the first flush of modernism, an individualist in an era of mass culture.
Yet at the same time, they had great affection for the masses. " Not members of any organized religion, Whitman and Duncan still participated in a pantheistic religion of the self and created an art of intensely personal expression. They consciously birthed a new art form, free, they wanted us to believe, of any artificial European precedents. 35 Raised as a Californian, whose typically heroic sense of self seemed induced by the landscape's wide-open spaces,36 Duncan conceived of "America" in the mythic terms of the frontier and its pioneers—as spacious and youthful, ambitious and heroic.