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Isadora: A Sensational Life Paperback – 6 Feb 2003
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Peter Kurth's biography is exhaustive - a long, loving tribute to a woman whose spirit still lives in legend. (THE TIMES)
The best biography yet of an astonishing woman, brimming with juicy snippets. (SUNDAY TIMES)
[A] sympathetic and enjoyable biography. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
There is never a dull moment in Peter Kurth's action-packed biography ... Kurth has done her proud with his excellent biography. (DAILY MAIL)
* The first major biography of the greatest pioneer of modern dance ISADORA unshrouds the mystery behind this passionate artist and tells the most accurate account of her life yet.See all Product description
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Complete with stunning photographs, complimented with a beautiful cover, this is a book to treasure. She brought ancient Greek dancing to life with her energy, skill and expressive dancing that was so full of energy and emotions, making one feel as if they were watching something of myth or legend right in front of their very eyes. It also delves into her personal life, loves and the Duncan school in Grunewald that was such a significant part of her life as she traveled between Greece and Berlin. When she then journeyed to America her story really comes alive, in those moments on stage that will always be remembered. Her constant exploring from France to Vienna and England kept a restless soul at peace, as she continued to raise a family and support her husband whilst retaining that deep seated love for dance. Her second school in Bellevue was a turning point in her career, as she takes on the role of a mothering teacher who guides the next generation forwards with love and the knowledge of her craft. Performances such as La Marseillaise spring to mind, as you think of this iconic figure within dance history, who was a pioneer that established the first foundation blocks.
Just exceptionally brilliant and unforgettable this fantastic biography is one that all dance lovers (both Greek, classical ballet and modern dance) lovers will cherish.
This is a sober and well documented account, which givesjustice to the dancer's extraordinary life. Detailed, but well paced it isa real page turner. Recommended.
Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) was born in San Francisco. Her mother struggled to raise her four children when their father deserted them. Isadora began to dance as a child, but not in the accepted form: she always despised ballet and what she saw as tortured, unnatural movements. No film exists of her dancing, and very few photographs. The author struggles to convey the expressive, free-form dance, not just interpreting music but bringing its emotion to life, which held spell-bound thousands of people while not at all impressing others. She danced bare-foot and -legged under filmy Grecian-style drapes at a time when 'nice' women didn't show so much as an ankle, but it is not good enough to say, as one national newspaper recently did, that it was this titillation that packed in the audiences.
At 18, with $25 in her pocket, she moved east and joined Augustin Daly's prestigious stage company, but by the time she was 21 she was established in New York, appearing in concerts and private salons. In 1899, she set out for Europe, where she became hugely successful, travelling widely, including into Russia. There, the classical ballet had fallen upon hard times and Isadora's regime-free style captivated artists, dancers, and musicians. She took lovers as and when she liked, had some disastrous affairs, two children (both drowned with their nurse in the Seine when the car they were in rolled into the water); drank too much, got very fat, earned enormous sums and lost them, gathered up children and set up dance schools for them - run by her sister - and generally careered chaotically all over North and South America and Europe, to wild applause and quite a lot of moral condemnation.
Isadora talked non-stop about dance, about her beliefs, of how the whole world must learn to dance. Interestingly, adult women who attempted to copy her, thinking that her graceful movements must be easy because Isadora made them look easy, soon found that this was not so. (She was also widely copied by professional performers; one such was the ill-fated Mata Hari). She controlled every muscle in her face and body, just as she could control vast audiences while apparently barely moving more than a finger at a time, against a plain background of blue curtains.
So Isadora is a puzzle: the author has produced an excellent, very interesting and definitive biography, filled with her own quotations, without ever quite capturing her basic essence. Probably no one could. Isadora was unique. Highly recommended.
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