Isadora Duncan 1877 - 1927 PDF Print E-mail


Isadora Duncan 1877 - 1927

1877 – Birth of Isadora Duncan in San Francisco, last of 4 children. Her father Joseph Charles Duncan (1819–1898), was a banker, mining engineer and connoisseur of the arts, and her mother Mary Isadora Gray (1849–1922), the daughter of Thomas Gray, a California state senator.
1880 – Her parents divorce. Her mother moves to Oakland with the children where she teaches piano and music.
1890-95 – Isadora teaches dance to small children.
1895-98 – Brief stay in Chicago where she joins the dance company of Augustin Daily. Tours in England in 1897, leaves company in 1898. Death of her father in 1898.
1899 – The Duncan family moves to London. Isadora dances in high society drawing rooms and discovers Greek antiquities in British Museum.
1900 – Joins with her mother her brother Raymond in Paris. Visits Louvre, discovers Rodin in Paris World’s Fair and discovers fellow American veil dancer Loie Fuller and the Japanese dancer Sada Yacco. Attends performances of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauride and Orpheus.
1901 – Gives private recitals accompanied by her mother on the piano in apartment on avenue de Villiers. Her guests include sculptors Rodin and Bourdelle, the politician Clemenceau, artists Besnard, Carrière and Forain, writers Mirbeau, Bataille, the composer Fauré and the aristocratic poetess Anna de Noailles. Her performance in the salon of Mme de Saint-Marceaux launches her in Paris high society. It is attended by playwright Sardou, hostess Madeleine Lemaire, architect Girault, writer Jean Lorrain and Anna de Noailles among others. Ravel plays the piano. She also performs in the homes of the countess Greffulhe, Madeleine Lemaire, the duchesse d’Uzès and at home of fellow American Winaretta Singer, princesse de Polignac where she creates Dances-Idylles or “Dances Inspired by Greek Art”.
1902 – Joins Loie Fuller in Berlin but resist her amorous advances. Proceeds to tour Central Europe with triumphant performances in Budapest and Munich.
1903 – Performs to mixed reception at Sarah Bernhardt theater in Paris. Attends banquet in honor of Rodin. Leaves with family for Greece where enthused she buys a property near Athens on Mount Hymettus where she hope to build her residence “Kopranos”, a project that will never be realized. Performs before the Greek royal family a dance inspired by Aeschylus’ Suppliants with 10 Greek children who accompany her on tour to Vienna, Munich and Berlin. 
1904 – Invited by Cosima Wagner she performs at the Bayreuth festival. Presents a “Beethoven Evening” at the Trocadéro theatre in Paris. Beginning of her liaison with English theater director Edward Gordon Craig in Berlin. Founds in Grunewald her first “Free Dance School” for 20 children. First performance in St Petersburg before ballet professionals, Diaghilev, Pavlova, Fokine, Petipa and Bakst.
1905 – European tour and first performance in Berlin with her Dance school pupils. 
1906 – European tour. Birth of her daughter Deidre (by Craig) in Holland. Winter in Florence with Craig who is preparing a production of Ibsen’s Rosmersholm. He publishes Six Studies in Movement lithographs illustrating Isadora’s dance movements.
1907 – European tour ending in Moscow. End of liaison with Craig.
1908 – Meets theater director Stanislavski in St Petersburg. Closes the dance school in Grunewald. First American tour: New York, Boston, Washington (performance attended by president Theodore Roosevelt).  Back in Paris, settles in studio 
purchased from painter Gervex in Neuilly.
1909 – Beginning of liaison with Paris Singer heir to the sewing machine fortune. Presents “danses artistiques” and Iphigenia in Aulide by Gluck, directed by Lugné-Poë at the Gaité theater in Paris. First performance of Diaghilev’s ballets russes in Paris. Isadora and Singer organize a reception in their honor at the Trianon Palace hotel in Versailles. Bourdelle sketches Isadora and uses his drawings as inspiration for his sculpted reliefs for the new theatre des Champs-Elysées. Performs in New York 
at the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall.
1910 – Birth of her son Paul (by Singer) in the Riviera. Publication of two albums on her dancing illustrated by Dunoyer de Segonzac and Jean-Paul Lafitte.
1911 – Presents Gluck’s Orpheus and Iphigenia, Schubert’s Waltzes, Suite by Bach and Bacchanale of Tannhäuser by Wagner  
at Châtelet theater in Paris. Her sister Elisabeth opens dance school in Darmstadt under the patronage of Duke and Duchess of Hesse. Publication of album Isadora Duncan, Daughter of Prometheus illustrated by Bourdelle.
1912 – Performs in Rome and privately in “Bacchus Feast” organized by couturier Paul Poiret and in the garden of Mme de Saint-Marceaux for her son’s wedding.
1913 – Russian tour. Performs with 6 children from Darmstadt school at Trocadéro and and Châtelet theatres. Accidental drowning of her 2 children in the Seine. A desperate Isadora accompanies her brother Raymond to Albania where he is helping out victims of the Balkan wars. Singer buys her the Grand Hotel de Bellevue in Meudon to install her dance school, the Dionysion.


1914 – Inauguration of the Meudon school. Benefit performance with her pupils at Châtelet theater. Gives birth to baby who dies soon after in August. At declaration of war the school is transformed into military hospital. Isadora leaves for New York with her pupils (the Isadorables) and founds dance company Dionysion. Performs at Carnegie Hall.
1915 – Dances Marseillaise at Metropolitan Opera. Returns to Europe with her pupils. 
1916 – Gives benefit performances for war victims in Paris, tours in South America with her brother Augustin. End of liason with Paris Singer.
1917 – Adopts her pupils Theresa, Lisa, Margot, Irma, Erika and Anna. Tours the USA ending in her hometown, San Francisco. Back in France meets pianist Walter Rummel with whom she works on new choreographies based on 
Liszt and Chopin.
1919 – Sells Meudon school to French state, settles in apartment with dance studio on rue de la Pompe.
1920 – Performs at Trocadéro and Champs-Elysées theaters. Trip to Greece with Isadorables, Rummel and American photographer Edward Steichen in the hope of founding a new school.
1921 – Performs at Champs-Elysées theater. End of liaison with Walter Rummel, the Isadorables split, only Irma will follow Isadora to Moscow where she has been invited by new Soviet regime to found a school.  Is given the old palace of the dancer Balachova and 50 students are recruited. They perform at the Bolshoi theater in November.
1921-24 – Elisabeth Duncan’s German school moves repeatedly from Darmstadt to Hagen and then Potsdam and finally Salzburg.
1922 – Death of Isadora’s mother in Paris. Isadora marries young Russian poet Sergei Essenin. Leaves Russia with him. Irma stays behind to direct dance school. Tours in the USA. A speech supporting the Russian Soviet regime leads to cancellation of her performances in Boston.
1923 – End of a disastrous American tour in Brooklyn. Returns to Europe with Essenin and performs in Paris and Moscow. Leaves Essenin in Russia and returns alone to Paris.
1924 – Death of Lenin. Isadora creates two commemorative dances in his honor: Revolutionary Hymn and Funerary Song for Revolutionary Heroes. Tours in Ukraine, in Germany and performs at Bolshoi.
1925 – Lives between Paris and Nice. Creates a dance based on Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus. Suicide of Sergei Essenin.
1926 – Financial difficulties lead her to sell the Neuilly house and begin writing her autobiography.
1927 – Performs in Mogador theater in Paris. Dies accidentally in Nice, her long scarf caught in moving wheel of convertible car on September 14. Cremated and buried in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Posthumous publication of My Life.

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