The Voice of Russia

The focus of our story is on the great American dancer Isadora Duncan. The life
of this woman held much promise from an early age. "A child's character is
determined long before he is born," Isadora wrote in her autobiographical notes.
"Right before I arrived into this world, my mother was living through a personal
tragedy.  She could eat nothing but oysters which she drank down with ice-cold
champagne.  Each time people ask me when exactly I started dancing, I say, "In my
mother's womb." Possibly because of the oysters and champagne:" 

Isadora's childhood was anything but happy. Her father Joseph Duncan went
bankrupt and abandoned the family even before she was born leaving his wife and
four kids with virtually nothing to live on: Sent to school at the age of five,
Isadora felt lonely and alienated from her more successful classmates. At 13 she
dropped out to focus entirely on music and dance. Five years later Isadora came
to Chicago, all set to conquer the big city, and  almost married one of her fans,
a the 45-year-old redhead Pole Ivan Miroski. The problem was that Ivan was also
poor and married to boot. The failed romance gave start to a string of equally
bungled love affairs which plagued Isadora almost to her deathbed.   

This woman was never completely, unconditionally happy, but she was a unique
dancer. Her first performances were at parties where she was offered as an exotic
after-meal just to spice up the evening.  Isadora shocked her audiences dancing
barefoot which was highly unusual back in those days. She always looked up to the
great Russian ballerinas Matilda Kshesinskaya and Anna Pavlova. With Pavlova they
later became good friends sincerely admiring each other's talent. Her financial
situation considerably improved by her tours, Duncan in 1903 took her family on a
pilgrimage to Greece. Wishing to be more than just travelers admiring the
country's ancient culture, they decided to make their own contribution by
building a temple on Mt. Kapanos. Isadora also handpicked ten boys to provide
choral accompaniment to her performances.  

Isadora's talent now appreciated everywhere, she was enjoying the attention of
her many male admirers. The first was Oscar Bereji, a Hungarian actor.
Passionately in love with Isadora, he eventually opted for a stage career though.
After a brief fling with Henrik Tode, a writer, Isadora met Gordon Crag, a
talented theater producer. Soon after their daughter, Didra, was born, but things
didn't go any further and the two broke up.   

In late 1907 Isadora gave several performances in St. Petersburg where she became
good friends with Konstantin Stanislavski, the man who had a more profound effect
on the acting art than anyone else in the 20th century.  Even though she was
never short of male attention, Isadora felt very lonely. It was then that she met
her "Lohengrin", an American heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune. Paris
Eugene Singer was a very wealthy man and could afford to shower his love with
expensive gifts and loving care too.  Soon afterwards, their son, Patrick, was
born. In January 1913 Isadora went on a tour of several Russian cities. It was
about that time that she started having nightmares, hearing funeral music or
being overwhelmed by dark premonitions of imminent death. One day she had a
terrible vision of two tiny coffins standing amid the snowdrifts.  She only felt
better when she met her kids and took them to Paris.  Singer was happy to meet
his son and Didra. Shortly after the children were given to the care of a maid
and sent out to Versailles.  On the way the engine suddenly stalled. The driver
stepped out of the car to fix it but, all of a sudden, the engine started again.
The heavy vehicle rolled into the Seine River drowning the children.  Much to
everyone's surprise Isadora did not cry and, instead, tried to ease the pain her
loved ones felt shattered by the tragedy. Much as they admired her cool though,
Isadora's relatives were getting increasingly worried about her mental state.
Isadora fell ill. She never managed to get over that terrible loss: 

In 1921 the Soviet authorities invited Isadora to open a dance school in Moscow. 
She agreed but plagued by financial problems, she had to decide whether to leave
the school and go back to Europe or to earn money by going on tour.  Then she got
another reason to stay put. She met the young but already famous poet Sergey

She was a 43-year-old plumped out woman with a shortcut of dyed hair; he was 27
years old, athletic and blond. A few days after their first meeting, Yesenin
moved in with Duncan. Eager as she was to love and be loved, Isadora was only
married once. Her marriage to Yesenin looked pretty strange if for no other
reason than being forced to communicate with her spouse with the help of an
interpreter.  Hating to be looked upon only as the husband of the great Isadora.
Yesenin became given to recurrent fits of anger that were ruining their marriage.
A year later the two broke up.  

Isadora's last love was the young Russian pianist Viktor Sedov. Both loved music
and talking about Russia.  Because Viktor was almost twice her junior, Isadora
was always jealous of her young beau.  

Isadora Duncan died as dramatically as she had lived.  She wore scarves which
were long enough to trail behind her. On September 19, 1927, during a promenade
in France, her scarf became entangled in the rear wheel of her convertible car.
When the car started moving, she was strangled. Isadora Duncan was buried in Pere
Lachaise cemetery in Paris:  
Copyright c 2005 The Voice of Russia


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