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Edward's Untimely Death Series: Entry #8

isadora04.jpg The American dancer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) based her expressive dance style on her vision of dances of the ancient Greeks. She laid the groundwork for the modern dance movement of the 20th century.

Born in San Francisco in 1878, she made her professional debut in Chicago in 1899, and subsequently toured Europe and the U.S., establishing dance schools in Berlin (1904), Paris (1914), and in Moscow (1921). When she first introduced her style of dancing – characterized by free, flowing movements expressing inner emotion, inspired by waves, wind, birds, and insects, and wearing a tunic with her feet, arms, and legs bare – she was met with strong opposition, especially from the established ballet community.

An advocate of free love, Duncan had a daughter by the British stage designer Edward Gordon Craig and a son by American sewing machine heir Paris Singer (1892?-1953). Both of her children were killed in an automobile accident in 1913. She married Russian poet Sergey Yesenin (1895-1925) in 1922, but separated within a year. In the 1920s she had a passionate affair with poet Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968).

Duncan’s dramatic death occurred in Nice, France on the evening of September 14, 1927. Returning to her hotel, she entered an open car wearing an “immense iridescent silk scarf around her neck and streaming in long folds, part of which was swathed about her body with part trailing behind” (New York Times obituary). Driving away, neither Duncan nor the driver realized that the long fringe had gotten wrapped in the spokes of the rear tire, and as the car reached full speed, she was dragged out of the car and slammed onto the cobblestone roadway, strangled and dying instantly.

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