Sunday, April 14, 2013

Isadora Duncan

This morning I almost pulled an Isadora Duncan.
My super long scarf snagged on the baby gate at the top of the stairs as I was descending, D2 in my arms. I managed to execute a feline twist and not tumble to my death, merely sliding a couple of steps and pulling an arm out of the socket. Although I bet Isadora could slide on her ass a lot more gracefully than I did.
D2 wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a fun or a scary experience, and was generally confused about the whole thing.

The upshot of it all is that now I get to tell people that I almost pulled an Isadora Duncan and see who gets the reference.

The only reason I know about her is that she was sort of part of the cultural background of growing up in Soviet Union, by virtue of being a wife to Sergey Yesenin (famous Russian poet). I remember a humorous poem poking fun at somebody's affected peasant style of writing, which referenced Mme. Isadora (Yesenin was known for the romantic down-to-earth, rural style of poetry).
Also, the lady sure could create drama, even in death: she became almost decapitated when a long scarf she was wearing became tangled in the spokes of a car she was riding.

She should really be more famous for what she did, which was dancing. She is credited with helping usher in the new, more natural style of dancing, countering the rigid rules of traditional ballet. She toured all over Europe and the Americas, even starting a school in Moscow (that part did not work out, when the USSR government decided it was not going to concentrate on the arts).

I did not realize until I got older and decided to look up information on her just how tragic and full of drama Duncan's entire life was. She had two children who were killed in a car accident. The car they were riding in with their nanny stalled, and the driver got out to start it again (remember, this were the 1910's), forgetting to set the hand brake. The car rolled into the river, killing everyone inside. I cannot even imagine the grief and shock she must have felt to hear of the accident.
Isadora tried to have another child, but the baby only lived a couple of hours and was never even named.
Her relationships were kind of messy and dramatic, and towards the end of her life she was as famous for her dancing as she was for financial woes. I guess back in the 1920's there was no celebrity cellulite obsession and the public had to contend itself with gossip of lovers and money troubles.

Some years back, I did a stupid and asked my friend, who is European born-and-raised, and a dancer by profession whether she knew about Isadora Duncan. She gave me a look like, "Um, DUH." I deserved that, I guess.
It's probably like asking an artist if they know who Michelangelo is. Though if you ask D1, he might tell you that he's one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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