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Just finished reading Peter Kurth’s biography on Isadora Duncan and I can’t believe I have gotten this far in my dance career without it. Like most dancers I have studied Duncan technique, which involves nature movements such as walking, swaying and running, but I have never known the woman underneath the shear tunic.
Kurth shows readers that there is more to Isadora Duncan’s legacy than just dance. Yes, she was a pioneer of modern dance, but she was also a mother, daughter, sister, lover, teacher, head of household, writer, revolutionary and, many people believe, the first feminist.
Exhaustively researched, this book follows Duncan from her birth in San Francesco in 1877 to her tragic death in 1927 and all the trials and joys she encountered along the way. What makes this book different from other Duncan biographies and even her autobiography is that it isn’t entirely about her. He includes stories and interviews from those closest to Duncan (Augustin Duncan, brother) (Mary Desti, friend) as well as writers, poets, artists, critics and theater enthusiasts who have had the honor of meeting her or seeing her perform. A recurring theme in the book is that everyone says Duncan changed their lives in some way with her dancing. And I am sure she would be pleased, but not surprised, to know that her dancing continues to change lives.
Thank you Peter Kurth for allowing me to know the woman and the dancer.