I can’t resist calling attention to this 1927 New Yorker article on Isadora Duncan written while she was still alive. It came to me in a David Remnick newsletter with the theme “Bohemians.” If only I had asked my mother, who would have been 28 years old, what she and her mother thought of Isadora then. Janet Flanner wrote:
A Paris couturier recently said woman’s modern freedom in dress is largely due to Isadora. She was the first artist to appear uncinctured, barefooted and free. She arrived like a glorious bounding Minerva in the midst of a cautious corseted decade. The clergy, hearing of (though supposedly without ever seeing) her bare calf, denounced it as violently as if it had been golden…
She has had friends. What she needed was an entire government. She had checkbooks. Her scope called for a national treasury. It is not for nothing that she is hailed by her first name only as queens have been, were they great Catherines or Marie Antoinettes.
As you read it, listen to Chopin and Strauss, then watch one of the videos. Or look at ‘The Revolutionary,” (to Scriabin, 1923) where she used gravity (movement with weight) to foment both a political and an aesthetic revolution.
Imagine watching Isadora dance in chiffon gauze while you, like my grandmother, are laced in a corset.