Слободкина Ольга
My dear Lori (Through the Eyes of the Translator)

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  • © Copyright Слободкина Ольга (slowboat@mail.ru)
  • Обновлено: 30/03/2009. 108k. Статистика.
  • Очерк: Публицистика
  • Аннотация:
    Published in the newsletter of Isadora Dance Organization, January, 2006

      My Dear Lori
      by Olga Slobodkina-von Bromssen
       As we embraced in our final good-by Lori said:
       - Olga, it was such a treat.
       - You brought me back to life, Lori, - I answered.
       That's how we parted in front of the Rossiya Hotel when the July night was switching on its stars in the Moscow sky and Lori Bellilove and Co were leaving for New York.
       We had met only ten days before, but that short period of time brought new meanings into my life.
       How did it begin? I heard the voice of a freind on my answering machine. It sounded quite hysterical. "Slobodkina. Where are you? Show up. It's urgent." The voice belonged to Zoya Shubina, my fellow artist. We both exhibited in Brussels in 2003 alongside with 20 other Russian artists at the Center for Science and Culture in the Russian Consulate "Russian Art. XXIst century". I knew Zoya was also dancing for the "Free Dance Studio" at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
       I called back to find out that I was needed as a translator for the Isadora Duncan Dance Festival. Lori Bellilove. Fist performance - in the House of Music. Tomorrow.
       I was just beginning to recover from a legament injury of my left arm - the accident had locked me at home for at least four months. My arm still hurt like hell, but I decided to take the challenge.
       I met Lori and her company in front of the House of Music the next morning and fell in love almost immediately - with Lori, with free dance, with Isadora Duncan Dance school and method and with Isadora herself - her talent and life. Lori was smiling, Lori was beaming, Lori was giving energy to everyone she met starting with the administrator and ending up with the lighting operator. The company was great too - lovely amiable girls filled up the dressing rooms, the rehearsing area and the stage with the joy of life, nice smells, smiles and, of course, dance. They rehearsed barefoot, the way Isadora did, including a beautiful 11-year old blond long-haired girl who did a solo in one of the dances.
       Journalists flooded the area around the stage and between the stage and the dressing rooms. And Lori had time and love for everybody and everything. She was never irritated for a second, never raised her voice whatever kind of people she had to work with - nice or not quite nice.
       After translating Lori's instructions to the lighting operator I asked her: "Do you think he can manage all this? How will he know it's the middle of the piece, the end of the piece without seeing it at least once?"
       She smiled radiating friendliness and said: "He's a professional. He will manage." I thought it would be a disaster. But it wasn't. It worked out great.
       That night, the first performance of Lori & Co, was the opening of the Festival and all the culture TV journalists seemed to be there. They were interviewing on the stage, during the warming up, in the dressing rooms while Lori and the other dancers were putting the final touches of their make-up on their faces.
       And then - the performance. I watched from the wings helping the stage manager and holding my breath while the joyful dancers wearing color tunics were doing miracles on the stage. The images changed quickly - from the Furies to the Blessed Spirits, from the Revolutionary to a fairy in the Lime Mazurka. They were doing Isadora pieces, using Isadora choreography and actually introducing the free plastic dance to contemporary Russian audiences.
       After that opening night, which was a huge success, we parted like old friends. Lori and the girls went to sleep to the hotel - jetlagged, but happy. Indeed, there were 9 more happy days in store for all of us.
       The second performance was at the New Theatre Center in Strastnoi Boulevard, which I knew very well for I had staged my art photo solo show there in the foye in November 2003 when Michael Nyman's opera "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat" was palying. That day was also my birthday.
       And again Lori impressed me with her sunny nature. She could really make the world go round and round her - despite all the difficulties. Sometimes when the situation seemed to be desparate because of the organization she just laughed and made things happen. I felt I was ready to do anything for her and she was always grateful.
       The second performance was even a greater success. The stage was more intimate and the theatre smaller. The audience caught the beautiful energy at once and soon after the beginning the whole place was already wading in the joy and mystery of life.
      I did not only love the performance, I loved every minute spent with Lori and her dancers whether it be a rehearsal, a dinner at the Ukranian restaurant "Korchma", a meeting with a 105 year-old student of Isadora herself named Lyalya (Olga Nikolayevna) or an excursion to the Sergei Yesenin Museum.
       I told Lori about Nadezhda Volpin, a poet and a translator and one of Yesenin's women who had a son by him. Volpin was a contemporary of the 20th c. and died in 2003 at the age of 103 years old. I wrote about her in 1995 to The Moscow Tribune, an English-language newspaper in Moscow. Lori read my story and loved it.
       I learnt a lot from her about Isadora - her life and method as well as her relationship with Yesenin.
       The Gala Performance was coming, but before that Lori gave a master class, which I did not only translate, but also participated in, despite my injured arm. That class was a real wonder. From the very first moments I felt almost as if I were in the church during the Divine Lithurgy when you feel the Eternal Flows going through you. Not a single movement was empty or in vain. Lori was filling everyone with the beautiful energy of life.
       - Do you know what you're doing? - I asked her afterwards.
       - Of course, - she said. - I have cultivated it inside myself.
       - I wanted to die after my injury and you've filled me with the beauty of life, - I confessed.
       - So, I am here for a reason, - Lori replied with a smile of a saint. - The whole business of life is all about energy.
       Very true.
       My dear Lori. I just can't begin to tell you how much I love. You did not only bring me back to life, but filled me with some new meanings of life.
       "You never know what new doors may open for you", said Meg Brooker, one of Lori's dancers when we were watching the Gala Performance at the Chaikovsky Music Hall where Lori did her solo "Revolutionary". Meg was also filmimg. Lori was the real Star of the Gala Night.
       After the Gala when Lori could hardly carry all the flowers given to her we met a real student of Isadora - Olga Nikolayevna - a real living student of Duncan, aged 105. Despite her old age she looked great, her eyes sparkling. And she was elegant wearing jewelry of the times of the Russian tsars. "All the movements are inside me", she said showing us some steps.
       I tried to find out how old she was, but she answered evasively that she was quite old, around 90. "She's been celebrating her 90th jubilee for the last 15 years", a Russian choreographer told me later. And she called herself Lyalya, a very girlish name, not Olga Nikolayaevna.
       "I still feel a woman, you know", she confessed, her eyes glittering.
       Is it the Isadora magic that makes people so happy? I was intrigued.
       The festival is over, but I still feel connected to Lori. I sent her some questions by way of an interview since we had no time to do it on the dictophone during her stay in Moscow. This is all great, of course, but the mystery remains and the more I learn about Isadora and her impact on her students the more intrigued I am.
       Of course, Lori is not Isadora. Lori is Lori. But the Magic is there anyway and Lori makes the world around her a colorful fest. So I can only repeat: "My dear Lori. I just cant's begin to tell you how much I love you and I hope this is only the beginning..."
       Oct.14, 2005
      And -
      the Endless Sunset
      hovers over the town.
      At first -
      in oil
      washed on the palette,
      the pastel Sun
      goes down the spires of roofs
      wave in the stripes of silk
      from the tunics
      of Isadora Duncan dancers.
       July 3, 2005
       The Art of Isadora Duncan Lori Belilove & Company Resident Performing Company of the lsadora Duncan Dance Foundation Program Wednesday June 29th, 2005, Dances from the Repertory of Isadora Duncan (1878-1927). The program will look at the persona of Isadora Duncan as a revolutionary who inspired the world through dance.
      Hope Chopin Nocturne Op 9 #2
      Hayley Brasher and Lori Belilove
      The Early Years (c.1900- 1908)
      Moment Musical Schubert Moment Musical #6
      Cherlyn Smith
      Narcissus Chopin Waltz Op. 64 #2
      Beth Disharoon
      Ballspiel Chopin Waltz Op. 70 #1
      Michelle Concha
      Line Mazurka Chopin Mazurka Op. 33 #3
      Hayley Brasher
      Minute Waltz Chopin Waltz Op. 64 #1
      Karen Dantzler
      Water Study Schubert Waltz D. 844 #12
      Lori Belilove
      Bacchanal C. W. Gluck from the Opera Don Juan
      The Company
      The Many Faces of Love (ca.1912) Brahms Waltzes Op. 39 #1, 2, 4, 7,11,13,14,15
      Greeting, Scarf Gypsy, Spanish Gypsy, Flames of the Heart, Rose Petals
      Lori Belilove
      Death and the Maiden (ca.1915) Chopin Mazurka Op.33 #4
      Cherlyn Smith
      Les Funerailles (exerpt) (ca.1914) Franz Lizst
      Lori Belilove
      Dances Inspired by Greek Mythology (ca. 1900-1908)
      Dance of the Furies 'R W. Gluck from the opera Orpheus
      Lori Belilove with Beth Disharoon, Karen Dantzler
      Dance of the Blessed Spirits C. W. Gluck from the opera Orpheus
      The Company
      Bach Gavottes I & II (ca. 1900) J. S. Bach Gavottes
      Hayley Rose Chopin Suite Preludes.
      Etudes, Mazurkas (1912-1918)
      The Company
      Prelude to a New Beginning Chopin Prelude Op 28 #7
      Michelle Concha, Meg Brooker, Cherlyn Smith
      Trio Waltz Chopin Waltz Op. 70 #3
      Michelle Concha, Meg Brooker, Cherlyn Smith
      Butterfly Etude Chopin Etude Op. 25 #9
      Karen Dantzler
      Slow Mazurka Chopin Mazurka Op. 17 #4
      Michelle Concha, Meg Brooker, Cherlyn Smith, Karen Dantzler
      Orientale Chopin Mazurka Op. 86 #2
      Cherlyn Smith
      Valse Brilliante (ca. 1918) Chopin Waltz Op. 34 #1 in A flat
      Michelle Concha, Karen Dantzler, Beth Disharoon, Margaret Brooker Impressions of Revolutionary Russia (1921-1924)
      Mother Scriabin Etude Op. 2 #1
      Lori Belilove
      Revolutionary Scriabin Etude Op. 8 #12
      Lori Belilove
      Marche Heroique (ca. 1915) Tchaikovsky Symphony No 6, 'B minor Op. 74, The Pathetique, Third Movement
      The Company
      International Conference
      The conference is one part of a larger event, the 5th International Festival of Authentic Music and Theatre Art, "Moskovskoe Deistvo 2005 /Moscow Action 2005/ ", which will lake place between 29 June and 10 July, 2005. The conference will be held on 7 and 8 July 2005 in Moscow in the Library and Foundation of Russian Diaspora (N. Radischevskaia St., 2. Metro station "Taganskaia" on the Circular Line).
      7 July, Thursday 10.00-14.00
      Pioneers of Free Dance
      Gedeon Dienes (Budapest). The early days of modem dance in Hungary.
      Turid Nokleberg Schjonsby (Trondheim).
      Steiner s Eurhythmy: theoretical aspects of eurhythmic practice.
      Margrethe Solstad (Oslo). Pedagogical and therapeutic aspects of eurhythmy.
      Monika Koch (UK) An introduction into the early period of European Expressive Dance (known in the Weimar Republic as Ausdruckstanz) through the work of Rudolf Laban.
      G.G. Lakhuti (Moscow). Isadora Duncan and free dance in the works by Russian painters. Successors: Modern Dance
      Barbara Hay ley (New Orleans). Development of distinctive choreography. Reflections of the early dancers of Alwin Nikolais' Playhouse Dance Co.: 1948 to I960.
      Marika Hedemyr (Gotheborg). Modern dance in Sweden: three strands. 15.00-18.00 Contemporary Developments
      Dee Reynolds (Manchester). Performing and viewing innovative choreographies: the example of Merce Cunningham.
      Daniel Lepkoff {New York). Physical dialogues -movement as an interaction with the environment. Plastic Art Schools in Russia (Section I)
      E.Ia. Surits (Moscow). Inna Chernetskaia and her school of plastic art. Inessa Kulagina (Moscow). Alekseeva's Art Gymnastics. Dance for Therapy and Education
      Aida Ailamazian (Moscow). The contact with music as a means of personal transformation.
      Irina Biriukova (Moscow). Dance-and-movement therapy: its theory and practice.
      8 July, Friday 10.00-14.00
      Plastic Art Schools in Russia (Section II)
      E.K. Romanova (Moscow). Dalcroze's eurhythmies in Russia.
      V.N. Riazanova (Moscow). The studio "Look, Here Is Music!" of Emma Fisch. Historical Dance
      T. V. Rybkina (Tula). Intonation in the plastic arts: analysing baroque dance music. Canon and Improvisation in Traditional Dance
      Svetlana Ryzhakova (Moscow). Canon and improvisation in the classic Indian dance in the XX century: the problem of balance.
      E.N. Shapinskaia (Moscow). Improvisation and canon: is freedom and creativity possible in the traditional art.
      15.00-18.00 Classical Ballet and Free Dance
      Natalia Zvenigorodskaia (Moscow). Modem dance and classical dance: two faces of authenticity.
      Nadezhda Shuvalova (Moscow). Comparing training in classical choreography and in the musical movement.
      Philosophy of Free Dance
      V.M. Rozin (Moscow). Prolegomena to the philosophy of free dance.
      I.M. Bykhovskaia (Moscow). Philosophy of the body and modern dance.
      L.B. Freivert (Tula). Archetypes of dance and design-objects.
      Irina Sirotkina (Moscow). Natural and artificial in free dance.
       Organising Committee: A. Ailamazian, N. Fedunina, V. Rozin, I. Sirotkina, E. Surits.
       Contacts: Inna Sirotkina, phone: 8-916 462 27 92 isirofomail.ru and Natalia Fedunina, phone: +7095 978 36 53, feduninfoorc.ru
      P.S. This Festival called "The Moscow Action" was not only remarkable because it celebrated the 100th anniversary of Duncan, but also because it was organized by the Russian followers of the Duncan school, for examle, "The Free Dance Studio" at the Academy of Sciences. An exhibition and a Conference were set up in "The Russians Abroad Center" in Moscow (the exhibition's curator was Zoya Shubina). Lori, Meg and me went there on one of the days between the performances. We met daughters of the artists who used to portray Duncan dancers during the Silver Age of arts in Russia (1900s-1930s) as well as daughters of some of the Duncan students in Moscow.
      Here is the decsription of these remarkable displays.
       Exhibitions staged during the Festival showed unique art works and historical pieces. These displays on Isadora Duncan and her students taken from the archives tell us about the history of free dance in Russia.
       1. Matvey Alexeyevich Dobrov (1877-1958)
      Graphic works: 1909-1913. The artist visited the concerts of Isadora in Paris at the beginning of 1909, made sketches from nature, which he later used for a series of graphic works (etchings, aquatint). He gave one of them (color aquatint 1911) to Iradora herself in 1912.
       This exhibition includes 18 graphic works 1909-1911. They show the dancing Isadora:'The Scythian Dance', 'Iphigenia' etc.
       The works belong to the artist's granddaughter S.V. Zotova
       2. Nikolay Mikhailovich Chernyshov (1885-1973), People's artist of the Russian Federation.
       Young Dancers of the Moscow School of Isadora Duncan (drawings of 1924-1925). In the 1920s the artist visited Isadora Duncan's concerts and her studios in Moscow. He made his sketches and drawings during the classes at school in Prechistenka Street. He used those later to create his paintings and graphic works in his studio. Part of his works covers the revolutionary theme ("The Song of the Revolution", "We are Young Guards of Workers and Peasants")
       Description of the display
       The display includes 1 painting and 15 graphic works dating back to 1924-1925. They portray the young dancing Duncan dancers of Duncan's Moscow School. The works are the property of the artist's family.
       3. History of the Musical Movement
       From the archives of S.D. Rudneva (1890-1989) and the 'Heptacor' studio. The display was prepared together with the Central Moscow archive-museum of private collections and is all about the founder of the "Heptacor" studio Stefanida Dmirtiyevna Rudneva. The display includes photos of Rudneva, Isadora Duncan, archive documents on the history of the studio and photos showing the followers of "Heptacor" - "Look, It's Music!" studio led by Emma Fish and contemporary studios of the musical movement "Heptacor" and "Isadora".
       The exhibition includes archive (1905) and contemporary photos displayed in 10 archive stands.
       4. Moscow School and Studio of Isadora Duncan
      The documents and photos belong to G.G. Lakhuti and are in his private possession. The display tells the dramatic story of the unique school of Isadora Duncan dance founded by the great dancer herself in Moscow in 1921 to be later transformed into the Duncan Studio, which existed until its liquidation in 1949. The displayed photos show the work of the Moscow School and the Duncan Studio as well as their participants.
       5. From Century To Century
      The History of the Artistic Movement Studio at the Central House of Scientists (The Russian Academy of Sciences). To the 115th Anniversary of L.N. Alexeyeva.
      The display includes photos of the Duncan dancer of the beginning of the XX century Ella Rabenek and her students including Ludmila Nikolayevna Alexeyeva (1890-1964), creator of her own method of teaching the free dance. The photos of Alexeyeva's students and archive documents tell us about the history of the art movement studio and its contemporary work led by I.E. Kulagina.
       The display includes 15 archive photos of Ella Rabenek (the student of Elizabeth Duncan) and her students (1910-1911), photos of L. Alexeyeva (who was a student of Rabenek), Alexeyeva's School students of 1950 and contemporary photos of Alexeyeva's school.
       6. Zoya Shubina.
      "Free Dance For Ever". The display includes 7 paintings and 10 graphical works of 2000-2005.
      Zoya Shubina is a member of the Moscow Union of Artists and the Internationl Federation of Artists of the UNESCO. The artist of the Duncan Dance Festival in Moscow, the curator of the exhibitions.
       Arts & Weekend
       Art, music & theatre
      Print article | Email article
      Lori Belilove & Co, Isadora Duncan Foundation, New York
       By Hilary Ostlere
      Published: January 18 2006 02:00 | Last updated: January 18 2006 02:00
      The iconic figure of Isadora Duncan is still revered in Russia. Moscow audiences thrilled to "free dance" (as Russians incorrectly call it) when the Belilove troupe, dedicated to performing Duncan's dances as authentically as possible - and incidentally abiding by her strict disciplinary rules of movement - celebrated the 100th anniversary of Isadora's first Moscow performance in l905.
      In a programme marking the success of the tour, Belilove, a life-long Duncan scholar, presented a group of dancers in Duncan's solo and ensemble pieces. The mistaken idea of overweight ladies wafting about in chiffon draperies, an unfortunate legacy of Duncan's misinterpreted impact on American dance, is completely negated by the expertise and sincerity of these dancers. Belilove, slender, dark-haired and with aquiline features, does not physically resemble Isadora, yet when she dances and mimes The Mother to a Scriabin 'F?tude she convincingly suggests the tenderness Duncan must have brought to it.
      With her red hair and womanly figure Cherlyn Smith, an associate artistic company director, particularly evoked Duncan's presence in the 1916 Death and the Maiden set to a Chopin mazurka, portraying a soul fraught with longing, apprehension and eventual doom. Meg Brooker's breath of spring dance to Chopin's Prelude Op 28 no 7 projected the spontaneity and freshness necessary for this joyous Prelude to a New Beginning.
      On a more sombre note, Varshovianka, to a Russian folk song sung by the Red Army Chorus, featured the group as comrades in arms, each surrendering the flag from one fallen patriot to another. Belilove explains that Duncan believed that in Russia she was "participating in a free and heroic society", until she discovered the Soviet regime was anything but. Even so her legacy was established there through her pupil Irma Duncan and others.
      A stunningly simple duo entitled Hope brought 11-year-old Hayley Brasher from despondency to optimism with Belilove's radiant, gentle encouragement in this piece to a Chopin nocturne. With Mathew Ward's piano accompaniment, the evening demonstrated the value of preserving the memory of Isadora Duncan in the most appropriate way: through her dances.
       Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2006. "FT" and "Financial Times" are trademarks of the Financial Times. Privacy policy | Terms | Advertising | Corporate
      Yesenin's Lover Recalls Past
       by Olga Slobodkina-von Bromssen
       Special to The Moscow Tribune
       Looking at the monument to Sergei Yesenin that soars above Tverskoi boulevard, one might think the poet belongs to a long-distant past, that his era, the Silver Age - the first quarter of the 20th century - is over and done with. However, the gap between the 1920s and 1990s is no longer than the span of a human life, and some of those who were close to Yesenin's glory and tragedy are still alive.
      Nadezhda Davydovna Volpin, a translator of poetry and fiction and herself a poet, was "Sergei's warmest affection," in the words of Alexander Sakharov, Yesenin's publisher and friend. Now 95 years old, Volpin is a sunny soul radiating friendliness and kindness. She treasures all the moments of her romance with Yesenin and recalls with her clear memory his personality against the background of the roaring 1920s.
      "Sergei's poetry was absolutely sincere, in total accord with his inner life," Volpin said. "He never lied to himself in his poetry. It was his second ego, something even more important to him than life itself."
      In "How Sergei Yesenin Lived", published in 1992 in Chelyabinsk, Volpin describes the diverse and multiple life in 1920s artistic circles that were the background for her complicated relationship with Yesenin. Her part of the book, "Rendezvous With a Friend," is full of love and suffering.
      In Volpin's notes, Yesenin's image is a far cry from the conventional concept of what kind of person the poet was in life. "Today he is being depicted as a sugar plum," says Volpin. "That's not what he was."
      Their relationship began in 1920 when Volpin was 20 and Yesenin 25. Already an acclaimed poet, Yesenin was a prominent member of the imagist school of poetry. Volpin, who spoke English, French and German, was just starting out as a poet and was a member of the Union of Poets.
      Their relationship was difficult. Yesenin, a ready participant in the sexual revolution of the 1920s, had three children by two different women. Volpin was an innocent young girl. Yesenin was a spiritual bankrupt. Volpin was full of hope for the future.
      On May 12, 1924, Volpin had Yesenin's son and put an end to their staggering romance. By that time, Yesenin's love life was a complete tangle. He had married the American dancer Isadora Duncan in 1923 in a brief and stormy relationship - Duncan spoke no Russian and Yesenin no English - and had also been involved in a relationship with the wife of a Cheka (a predecessor to the KGB) agent.
      This mess, together with his constant drinking, only strengthened Yesenin's ennui. Volpin wanted to put an end to her relationship with Yesenin by having a son.
      Their last rendezvous took place 16 months before Yesenin's death. Many who were friends of both consider their break to be Yesenin's fault, but Volpin insists it was totally her decision and mourns it. "I loved Sergei with a big love," she said.
      Describing the psychological condition of her beloved, Volpin says, "I was always worried about Sergei. It felt as if he were walking a tightrope with his eyes closed and might fall at any moment if someone hailed him." Volpin added, tears coming to her eyes, "He had always been carrying a suicide inside himself since we first met."
      Yesenin, alone and with no home or noone to rely on, settled a score with life, committing suicide on Dec. 27, 1925 after writing his last poem with his own blood: "In this life there's nothing new in dying. But living, of course, is no newer."
      Volpin carried on, bringing up her son and translating many great poets and novelists into Russian, including Ovidius, Hugo, Goethe, and Byron.
      Volpin's son, Alexander Yesenin-Volpin, a well-known mathematician, was a human rights supporter and one of the organisers of the silent strike in the 1970s at the Pushkin monument in Moscow, after which he was persecuted and forced to immigrate to the United States in 1972. He currently lives in Boston, doing research in mathematical logic and writing poetry.
      Although a line in the epigraph to her book reads, "the bitter bread of recollections," Nadezhda Volpin leaves the impression of a woman who has dealt with and overcome the past.
      The only problem seeming to worry her currently is that none of her poetry has yet been published, with the exception of a couple of poems in her book of memoirs about Yesenin. Hopefully, the new times in Russia will enable poetry-lovers to get acquainted with Volpin's work, but in the meantime they will have to content themselves with poems by her lover of long ago.
      "Yesenin was a true Russian," Volpin said, her grey-blue eyes smiling. "And not a 19th or 20th-century Russian, but an eighth-century Russian, a primordial Russian."
      Nov.9,1995, The Moscow Tribune.
       Here is my e-mail interview with Lori in September 2005.
       O.S.What brought you to dance? Tell me more about "destiny", your trip to Greece and your life story (in terms of dance).
       L.B. When I look back and see the big picture of my life and its destiny, I know that I was destined to be a dancer- and in particular - of Isadora Duncan Dancing. I was born healthy and free to pursue my imagination. My stars lead me to the flow and power of Isadora's art. I feel at times like a transmitter or vehicle for the flow of her power - but, of course, I actually know this is all my own power and artistry. Isadora has been a catalyst for me to be free and alive in my person in my life - and all that passes on to my dancing. I was an artist before time and before I knew anything about Isadora. I was a wild child, born into the right family. I was nurtured and supported. And when I wasn't, which did happen, I found my own way. I fought my own battles and conquered all obstacles, so I could dance and build this Foundation and Company and School.
       O.S.If dance, then why Isadora Duncan Dance?
       L.B. Isadora's work is extraordinary. First her ideas make sense, the notion that we must feel before we move and integrate our spirit and mind with our movements physically is the only intelligent dance art form. When I understood the concepts of her training methods I was sure she was brilliant. Exercising the body without this integration is deadly for the art of dance. There is no learning going on and the result is mindless, souless dancing. So, I felt I found something in her work I could relate to and I have followed with a passion ever since. Yes, I have done many other styles of dance, including Ballet, but always with Isadora's principles in mind.
       Isadora's work, as an art form, is the most beautiful dance I have ever seen, when done with integrity and passion. Unfortunately, I am not interested in Duncan Dancing when people are using the name of Isadora to show themselves off, and get people to come to the theater! Ha! When trained in the technique and done fully, from the heart, the work is timeless and the choreographies are jewels of human expression and musicality.
       O.S.What is dance to you? Tell me more about this "energy business", which is what life (and dance) is all about and I'll write about my impressions of your master-calss.
       L.B. Whew! I think I have covered it, the above - well, some anyway.The energy? Well, I know we had a conversation about it, but I don't have a thread on it now. In the master class I was opening the students bodies and bringing them closer to their heart center and a first lesson. Then when we played with the music and the jumps I was giving them a chance to experience the full feeling of dancing in the Duncan Style. That is all the first part of a lesson. I could have taught for hours. We were just getting started. I hope I can return and even build something meaningful for the lives of the dancers in Moscow who are pursuing the beauty and joy found in Duncan Dancing! I want them to be able to express more deeply felt things stirring in their souls. And they can do it, they just need the guidance.
       Lots of love to you, too.
       Hopefully this will be inspiring for you?! Write on!
       The Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation
       141 W. 26th Street, 3rd floor
       New York, NY 10001-6800
       (212) 691-5040
       FAX (212) 627-0774
       Interview with Lori Belilove June 11, 2003.
       Conducted by Carrie J. Preston
       Carrie Preston (C.P.): How did you get interested in this work?
       Lori Belilove (L.B.): The story goes that I was really a tomboy. I was very athletic, loved the outdoors. I was quite curious about things. I was also supported by my family to do wonderful projects. I was athletic, strong. When I was 5, I was brought to a ballet class and I thought it was the stupidest thing I had ever seen. I thought, "I do not want to be a butterfly, with cute little floppy wings going around the room." I think I was five or six. I waited outside and played with the bugs in the garden and waited for my Mom to come pick me up. And then we went to Greece, went all over Europe, when I was about twelve. We went from London to Athens Greece; we went to many, many countries and we looked in the churches, at the life, and enjoyed the new foods. About three and a half months. And the last part of our trip was in Athens, Greece, and we were told to look up a man named Papa Vassos. And his relationship was that my brother's piano teacher had studied dance with him. Mr. Kanellos lived in an apartment in Athens and we went over for tea...or ouzo or whatever they served. He had been a dancer, artist, and scholar all his life. He trained with Fokine, but before that his inspiration to dance was Isadora. He met her when she went with the whole 'Clan Duncan' to build her temple on the hill of Kopanos in the community of Byron, clad in these togas and everything. And they thought, "Oh, the Greek gods are returning." Vassos was so taken that he went following them around and wanted to learn dance with her. He was very inspired, and she said, "Go back to your Greek roots." So he did a lot of Greek chorodrama and went back to the ancient tragedies. I met him near the end of his life, and he said, "Would you like to come and study with me?" He had a picture of Isadora with a lock of her hair, and it was an amazing visit. My brother remembers him saying, "You're the next Isadora." And I was intrigued in the moment, but there was a part of me that wanted to go home. After three and a half months, we had done a lot of camping, a lot of touring around, excursions, museums, temples. But, I was intrigued and I did pick up Isadora's autobiography when I came home, and I was fascinated by her spirit. And that's what really led me, when I finished high school at sixteen, (I graduated a year early) and I went back to study with him. I studied with him for two and a half years. I got an apartment and lived in Athens when I was seventeen and eighteen years old, and trained with him. We danced in basements and churches. There was really very little modern dance in Greece to speak of. Folk dancing, yes. But traditional dance or training in dance - was nil. We went around to all of the Greek archeological sites and all the museums. My education was so full - not just dance. It was an immersion in classical studies, Greek mythology, the history. He systematically took me through all those books. And it was a wonderful time. And then it was really time for me to go back home and put all this information together for myself.
       C.P.: How long were you there?
       L.B: Two and a half years. After our trip, between ages 12 and 16 I did dance. I got interested in it from Isadora. I was looking for what I felt might be in her dance. I couldn't know her dancing based on the autobiography, but I had an idea. I kept looking for it in all the dance classes I would go to, but I wasn't finding it. I was trying to piece it together but thinking there really wasn't much available, that her work had died. This long journey up to now has led me back to a very different understanding.
       C.P.: What about her autobiography intrigued you?
       L.B.: Something about her vibrancy, her intelligence and her passion to live a full life. Not to censor herself. If she had a creative idea, she went and did it. And I was certainly raised that way so it was kind of like I'd found a kindred spirit. I was not suppressed and she wasn't. I wanted to know desperately what her dancing was. When I read it (the autobiography) I was turned on. Like a lightbulb. And I had to know. I had to know.
       C. P.: What are your goals for Lori Belilove and Company and the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation?
       L. B.: Certainly I've achieved many of the goals I've wanted to from creating new work in the style of Isadora to putting on productions like "Isadora...No Apologies" where I've got the children that are actually trained in Duncan - not borrowed from the ballet school - dancers who really know what they're doing with it performing in the productions. And I am including the original repertory in the production. This is certainly important to me. Those are big goals that I've achieved. I'm quite interested in teams. And so, I'm starting with the children and I'm going to build up this group here in New York. I think this work is really for the youth in many many ways, as much as it is for any age group from 3 to 93! Each decade has its special power and meaning and vitality. If you're 30 it has meaning; if you're 40 it has meaning, and on and on... There could be a dance for each decade. So soulful, so timeless to me, that I want the world to know about it. I want the world to experience it. I want the world to recognize the technical foundations of it as well as the dances, and I want to create artists who can continue in the technique, creatively, teach creatively, and do the dances very well. That is why I've created the certification program, to that end, where I could really monitor and support people who are really serious. And I'm making a lot of headway this year. My dream is really to have the company and be the artistic director and have people graduating from my certification program. And that's where I'm at right now. I'm about to launch into some new work with the company. On a rotating basis, I vary parts of the repertory.
       C.P.: Do you also hope to make interventions in the way Duncan is understood by the larger public?
       L.B.: I figure by doing what I do well, I'm doing my job. I certainly like to speak to diverse groups. I was out in a very difficult part of New Jersey, where a white person is in the minority, and I went to a performing arts high school out there in New Jersey. They have a large dance program with modern dance and support for modern dance. This work can stimulate people outside the mainstream and cut across social and economic boundaries way beyond the world of America and Europe that Isadora revolved in. The white middle class America is very interesting to me. Whether I can get some sponsorship through Oprah or someone who likes to support such things on a larger scale, we'll see, but we can teach and expose people who would not necessarily be exposed because they don't go to the Lincoln Center, they don't go to the Duke Theater, they don't go to modern dance generally. Which is one of the reasons I made Isadora...no apologies because I wanted the theater-going public, people who like to be entertained, to discover Isadora. I focused on that goal and it really came to pass.
       C.P.: In my own research, I'm struck by how Isadora's life is sensationalized and her dance ignored. Everyone has heard of Isadora, but no one knows what her movement was like or what her artistic goals were. At the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts, I found an article by Lincoln Kirstein claiming that there is no such thing as Duncan choreography it was just spontaneous. Why do you think there is this sensationalization of the life and disregard for her dance?
       L.B.: Because she was so big, sort of like Madonna - Madonna's fabulous voice is somewhat dismissed by a whole body of people. You can understand it like that. Because Madonna put on that corseted bra and pranced around on MTV, a whole class of people dismissed her. So Isadora, because she had children out of wedlock and stuff like that, there was a whole class of people who dismissed her. And artistically, when she was near the end of her life and at her heaviest times, there were people who misunderstood her work. She did not have a youthful, fully trained, impeccable company to say here is my work - and here I am living my life. So she is amazing for breaking through that. So right then and there you've got this dismissal going on, yet it broadened our concept, through her efforts, of what dance was. And then you get things like that proverb: If you speak you can sing; if you can walk you can dance. It was because of Isadora that we can read those kinds of things and go, "Yeah." It allowed so many more artists, modern dancers in particular, but artists more generally to embrace so many more things. And particularly for women. Women of that era felt they could be somebody. I'm corseted; I'm married, but I'm still somebody.
       C.P.: How do you understand Isadora's relationship to the late 19th century woman's movement?
       L.B.: She was not a suffragette. She was certainly a feminist, but she didn't want to put down men or put aside men. And she did not want to be masculine. She felt that the world owed her a piece. She demanded it and she got her piece. And she didn't know what some of the whining was about. Because she certainly was not a whiner. She saw the suffragettes as whiners a little bit. But more to the point, she found her way to live her own life and make her claims and her points. I think she was glad for them honking the horn on many issues. But she had bigger issues. Well, she certainly did purport many of the same ones from child labor to marriage. But, she was in a Bohemian world where [the vote] was not such an issue. She did not circulate in a lower middle class, if not low class, circumstance where [the vote] was an intolerable issue.
       C.P.: Would you say she saw other issues rather than the vote as being more significant at that time?
       L.B. I don't think she cared to be - and I'm putting words in her mouth - dangerous territory - I'm doing some supposing, but I don't think she just wanted to be an equal to men. She wanted to be a woman. That is a big distinction I think. She cared about the issues that the suffragettes were working on, but she was already way ahead of them.
       C: What is the relationship between creation and procreation or childbirth for Isadora?
       L.B.: When she found sex, she found it incredibly creative. When she got involved with a man, it was a creative combustion. Of course the first one was Gordan Craig (sic). They would be together and then he would go off and write a new design and she had an idea for a new dance and boom-da-boom it kept flowering out of their togetherness. He is her first real, serious sexual encounter. And then Paris Singer, the only reason she would have been interested in him was because he was so interested in her work and built a school for her and the children. And when she had children, she said, "This is it. My god. I can give birth and bring new life into the world and it is just the way I feel when I bring a new dance in. So she started to relate the two. She was interested in generativity. Older people didn't understand her work the way the children did and would. So she said, I'm going to go to the young generations, the youngest I can find, because then there is the possibility of truly understanding and being free to understand.
       C.P.: Do you believe that Isadora created a specifically woman's art form?
       L.B.: No. I've had many men dance in the style. I know that people think that, but I don't. In fact, my first teacher was a man, and two of the better teachers I've ever had have been men. I'm not interested in that part of the Isadora technique that some people fall into which is an overly feminine expression. I also don't think that is the wave of the future for Isadora's dance.
       C.P.: I was so stunned when we introduced ourselves to the other dancers in the Intensive, how many dancer reacted emotionally and said, "I feel like my body was meant to move this way." And Cherlyn brought up that wonderful point that places in our body are finally moving. What is it about this movement that makes us think, "Oh, all my life I've been waiting to move like this?"
       L.B.: I think it is very natural and healthful for the human body. There was a time in the history of the human being when the heart centers were more open. Over the years, with the wars and that part of human nature which wars with another, we lost the openness of the heart area and the actual chest area and the solar plexus, expanding and lifting and letting us move from a more intuitive, heartfelt place. I wonder what would have happened if George Bush had had that kind of thing. There is some article that was written asking, "When did he get religion? When did he get the idea that he could do the peacemaking negotiations that he's doing right now." But, Isadora herself said, "The Revolution is already here." [pointing to her chest] And from the 60's on we've been looking for how we're going to handle certain things and how things are going to be different. We're way overboard. We're killing Mother Earth and we've got more things than we know what to do with. And our kids are getting fat, and we have all these woes. And we're looking for something that will bring us back some intuitive way of living. Guidance, intuitive guidance, spiritual guidance. And Isadora, without going into religious doctrine, brought natural spirituality to people. And they were thirsty for that more than anything. At the same time, in America, we can't actually have independence and freedom. I go to Brazil, and when we do the group running sequence in the studio, they won't go unless the whole group is right there. In America, one will go off, and if the don't know where the others are, they will go off on their own. And they'll say, "Oh, I missed the group. Oh well." But in Brazil, are you kidding, they are into teamwork, the group. Stay together. The won't dare until they all go together. Cultural thing there.
       C.P.: There is a dichotomy about Isadora's work that has me puzzled. Julia began the class today talking about how you have something internal to yourself that you bring to the choreography. What is the relation between the solos and group dances, the individual and the collective in her work?
       L.B.: It is actually very simple. Whether you are alone or you are in a group, you are unto yourself. Even in a solo, you are dancing with others. There are other forces - invisible, imagined. She said, "I never once danced a solo." So she was bringing her uniqueness into the space of her dancing whether she was with a group or not. And she was resisting this human thing: we dress alike, there are these fashions and fads, and we do things alike. We raise our kids the way somebody told us to for a while and then we raise them another way - with the bottle, without the bottle. There are these fads and fashions that we, as human beings, we will follow one another. I've answered your question, basically, about the solo and the group. But the individualism you bring to the group. Now when you work in the company - Julia was in a dance we call "The Line Mazurka" and she said, "We all did it a little bit differently." When I see the Isadorables, all named as Duncan dancers, they all have something different, something poetic in their expressions. Now, here you see (shows photograph): they both have their palms up and they're making a gesture toward this kneeling figure but in a slightly different way. You could say that it is basically the same gesture. But, maybe my eye, I don't know what, but I'm interested in something a little bit more. Call it the gist. You could say that Julia was saying that the gist is more important than the precision. Whereas in the corps de ballet, they are going to scream at you for the precision, and maybe one will have the gist, but typically they don't know how to bring it out of them. Every once in a while, they will notice someone having a lot more gist and vibrancy and they won't know quite what to do with the dancer. Most dance training doesn't know how to teach that vibrancy, that "it." Many dancers can do the step and maybe achieve the line with academic precision but I wouldn't call that dancing.
       C.P.: I've read so many reviews of her solo performances where the audience is just stunned, reacted so strongly to her, her presence onstage was so powerful. And then I've read reviews that criticize her monopolization of the stage. Of course, she was the first to dance alone on a legitimate stage for an entire evening. What was so stunning about just having one body onstage that some people said this is bosh, she's monopolizing the stage, and others reacted so powerfully to that single body on the stage, thought it was so beautiful?
       L.B.: Oh, because she was all alone and they said, "Who does she think she is?" Well, some people really understood that she wasn't dancing a solo even when she was alone. They got the depth of her universality, her humanity. She felt that she was an instrument, that she was one of everyone. When I reached a point like that, I thought, "Wow, I'll keep doing this." Because it is so pleasurable. Before then, the ego and the me, me, me and the I, I, I, and the nervousness is what suppresses such a breakthrough. She believed that when you are a performer, a dancer, a singer, an actor, you are an instrument for some huge power that is coming through you. She felt like she rediscovered the dance and it was passing through her and she was giving it back out again for the greater good of humanity. It was not getting stuck in her. She certainly wanted recognition for what she did, because she wasn't stupid and she didn't want to be railroaded to the point where everybody was imitating her. She really understood her power and her authenticity. She wasn't stupid in that way. She talked about it in the flowery terms of Art. She always used the term, Art. What is Art? And she used it in a way we might think of as "Authentic" as opposed to "Commercial stuff" or "Allah" or "Interpretive." Not someone who is practicing dance but not really feeling it. It is true art when the dancer really feels it. She wanted to teach people that, but then she would go and watch people imitate her and she would say, "Oh, what have I done, they are imitating me. They are looking little greek-ees, greekitis.' She would be upset with herself, with what she started.
       C.P.: So in her solos, you see her passing through that idea of the single individual into the idea that I'm always dancing with another and as another.
       L.B.: When she found the Greek chorus, as Julia mentioned, she found abstraction as well. And that is in The Art of the Dance, the notion that she was not the protagonist. She was the Greek chorus responding to these horrible events going on. So, she didn't have to be the me, me, me. She did not have to be the Media, or the Niobe, or the Eurydice who has lost her love. She was the essence of the relationship, lost love. This huge abstraction started the whole modern era, from clothing to dance production.
       C.P.: And yet, she writes a lot about self-expression and you said she was so horrified when she saw people mimicking her. How do you think she defines the self, or the ego?
       L.B.: You know, Freud was just coming up then. We bang around these words all the time, but she didn't use the word "ego" ever. There was something going on with the self. She would say to children, "Listen to the music. Do you not feel your inner self awakening." In a sense, what she was saying was, "Don't listen to that monkey chatter of who has the prettiest dress on." She was hoping to go one layer in to that soulful essence of yourself. Which would make the group of children be harmonious with each other instead of competitive and superficial. She was allowing the children to go one step deeper. She raised a whole new generation of dancers and thinking about how you could dance.
       C.P.: So a self without that competitive nature we attach to the selfish. Is this a sacred self?
       L.B.: Yes. That is a nice word.
       C.P.: How do you think she understood the sacred? You mentioned that it isn't religion.
       L.B.: It's not dogmatic. It's not theological. There was a movement going around about coincidences not really being coincidences. Destiny and karma. She did consult with psychics. She felt herself psychic. She turned circumstance, situations, into revelations of the natural order of things. And she was aware of the conveyor belt of the destiny she was on. She'd say, "I don't know what I'm going to do." And she would turn a corner and there would be a friend. It was meant to be. It was karma. Her whole life wrapped like that. She recognized that and allowed that to happen. She did not believe that there was a god to worship who was going to punish or reward.
       C.P.: I remember a story in her autobiography: I think it was a German impresario who wants to get her on the vaudeville stage, the music hall. And she says, "My dance is for the church, my dance is sacred."
       L.B.: She was trying to make that huge distinction between entertainment and higher art. Rodin's "Gates of Hell" is not beautiful. But it is certainly of the human condition, very powerfully expressed. She was interested in going there.
       C.P.: Julia said today that this dance is based on gesture, that is the core choreographic component. What is the relation between gesture and meaning in Isadora's choreography, or between gesture, movement, and meaning.
       L.B.: Whether it is really executed or not, gestures are thoughts manifested into motion. Thought in motion. Visual thought. And that creates the meaning. As for someone like Merce Cunningham, claiming that his dances have no meaning: In some ways that is just bullshit. I think what he's saying is that they can have a different meaning for everyone. And Isadora did that too. That is what created the modernism in Isadora. She said look at this, feel this. I feel it this way, but you are free to feel it another way. Whereas your story ballets, they are forcing you to feel it one particular way.
       C.P.: Can you summarize what you think Isadora's goals in dance were?
       L.B.: She was aware that there were people for the theater and people who would just have dance for life. She did make a distinction. We [Lori Belilove and Company] do too. Even though, we are nit-picking at you at the technical level about the expression. That is, you see it and you keep seeing it and pretty soon you get it. Maybe we'll tell you to just call the world. But, she wasn't so concerned with making money. When she saw the automation starting and the industrial age coming, [she thought] that one must dance, do that repetition and then break it free. God, what do we think we are? Are we just supposed to replicate machines? Or are we supposed to bring machines and that is the great glory of our brains? Beauty, aesthetic beauty, that was very important to her. Nature, and all that. She danced angry poems and less angry poems. And here again, you have Rodin's "Gates of Hell" concept. It's not just that it's beautiful. It is that it's authentic. And intellectual dance: it is enacted physically and it is felt. Isadora wanted to drag us out of the hum drum ways of looking at dance: what it could say, how it would feed us and nurture us. I don't know if she would say that, but I think she felt it. You can hear it through her writings. I think she felt hammered down and misunderstood and lost sometimes. But, she never beat up what she had. Where some women do. They might trash their designs. At her lowest moments, she never touched her past achievement.
       C.P.: Is there anything else you would like to add?
       L.B.: Your depth of this material and your writing interests me. I'm coming to a point in my life where I'm more aware of the contribution I'm making to the longevity of it and maybe I'm not the one to speak about it. I think Cherlyn could say a lot about what she has seen. Having seen and experienced a lot with Julia, I often think, oh my God, I was meant to do this. Because I see when Julia teaches something, there might be a better way. I had to find a better way, because I was dieing. We were all dieing - leaping, kicking, no stretching. Her technical knowledge goes right to the dancing, another source of innate information. I went about trying to find another way to explain it.
       C.P.: How to use technique to get to the dancing?
       L.B.: Yes. And how to break it down in whatever ways needed to be. Going from yoga or floor bar. The keys, to help break down an overly trained dancer.
       C.P.: Do you think Isadora, herself, worked with technique?
       L.B.: No, I think she didn't. Her movement was utterly musical. It wasn't just a turn for a turn's sake or a leap for a leap's sake. It was art from the get go. Every dance has a line and an intent. She really studied art. She asked why the S-curve in the Greek sculptures were so comfortable for us to look at. What's going on here?
       C.P.: This has been very helpful to me. And I've enjoyed the Intensive very much. I'm too heady and so Isadora lifts me, like you say, she lifts me out of that intellectual mire. What really draws me to her is her intelligence combined with her ability to lift out of intellect and into spirit. In my dissertation work, I'm looking at how women resist the secular impulse and try to incorporate the sacred and specifically the sacred self. That is why I'm so interested in the solo and the self. The figures that I'm looking at weren't standard feminists. And I loved what you said, that Isadora had gone past the feminists.
       L.B.: You're going to be a great spokesman.
       C.P.: You're a great spokesman. There is a lot of poor writing about dance. That is one of the interventions I want to make. Dance can be written about. You don't have the sculpture to analyze, but that is part of its power. It is ephemeral and it teaches us about time and change.
      Why Lori Belilove now?
      -contemporary approach, shifting famous beautiful art form forward into the 21st century, new perspective-Duncan teachers were old, Julia Levien was 60 when she taught Lori how to leap-LB took her energetic, youthful body to bring the Duncan dance back to life-Lori embodies qualities of many of the Isadorables: lightness, weight, drama, lyricism (Peter Kurth says all the lyricism and lightness and the weight)
      -LB's story-how she found Duncan as a young Berkeley girl rockin' to the Beatles
      -Inspiration: how Lori was inspired by Duncan and how Lori's story is inspiring
      -LB as young girl running wild and free in the woods, surrounded by creativity and arts-always involved in craft projects: painting, sculpting, sewing-and strongly connected to both art and to nature with a whole menagerie of pets
      -LB's approach to Duncan dance is not stodgy and old-break through misunderstanding of Duncan dancing as technique-less: Isadora's manuscript-exercises for training the body
      -Choice: LB made a decision in life to choose to study all she could of Duncan-what inspired LB to want Duncan dance in her life?
       *connected on level of art and on level of nature-physically active and spent lots of time outdoors, exposed to some dance, but connected to 'joie de vive' of Duncan, revolutionary idealism (Graham was too angst-driven and LB wanted aesthetic of beauty, appreciation of life)
       *LB not forced into early dance training (which can be at odds with freedom of expression) but made the choice to seek out the training-she decided to be the best dancer she could be and do Duncan-blessed to have the talent and facility to be fully trained, LB made a choice to embody the Duncan work-was blessed to have the talent, aptitude, musicality, body to train as a professional dancer-BA in dance from Mills College, came to NYC and cross trained in a number of dance disciplines including Humphrey technique and ballet (careful to avoid abusive ballet training), floor barre, yoga (one of first to explore yoga as training for the dancer's body), body work, also sought out musical training of Dalcroze-idea of choice is reflected in the Duncan dance movement (use of the eyes, look-then go)
       *LB was a natural free spirit loved the beauty of the outdoors, lots of art, painting, sculpture crafts in childhood
       *As a young person in Berkeley, LB understood that the world needed to change-discovering Isadora's work gave her the license to find her own sense of self, to express herself and expand her talents-LB born with a natural optimism, a bouyancy- in LB's nature to rebound and she was/is 'replinished by Isadora's work' both while dancing it and also teaching it-as a teacher she is feeding a thirst, a raw and tender need
      -Two aspects of continuing the Duncan legacy:
       *dance for life aspect (movement for all people, philosophy of connection to art and nature)
       *professional dancer aspect-do you need training? Yes, need some training for the body-even Isadora had students in her school train physically-Lori one of the first dancers to cross train with yoga, running, weight lifting, body therapy but used Isadora's wisdom to avoid abusive training
      -How has LB sustained the vitality and longevity of her career?
      *Natural optimism, sees more good than bad, bouyancy, in her nature to rebound-also evident on the level of metaphor in her dancing-Lori is continuing to inspire audiences and dancers alike
      *Sense of where discipline is and where art is within discipline: in studying Isaodra's life, Lori noticed that Isadora never really took for herself, never seemed to feel that she deserved her success - LB wrote an early article on 'Isadora and Zen Buddhism' and LB balances her talent with common sense and an appropriate sense of entitlement-she completely embodies the dance and she teaches others to do the same
      Isadora: ripples in the water
      By Giv Lahuti, Moscow
       June, 2005
       (Translated from Russian)
      The great dancer Isadora Duncan always liked Russia and the Russians. And the relation to her in Russia was very special. As early as before the Revolution of 1917 she made four very successful visits to that country - in 1904, 1905, 1908 and 1913, exerting a tremendous impact on the public. A great mutual friendship connected her with a number of representatives of Russian culture including Konstantin Stanislavsky, Sergei Diaghilev, Alexander Benois, Lev Bakst, Sergei Konionkov, Matilda Kshessinskaia and Anna Pavlova. Maksimilian Voloshin and Alexander Benois, Andrei Belyi and Alexander Blok, Sergei Soloviov and Nina Petrovskaia, Valerian Svetlov and Alexander Koiransky, Anatoly Lunarcharsky and Maxim Gorky wrote about her. The latter, not being a "devotee" of her art and of choreographic art in general, still wrote as follows: "This is a famous lady glorified by thousands of aesthetes of Europe, by delicate connoisseurs of plastic dance... Her genuine body burns us by the fire of glory." In 1908 Stanislavsky wrote to Isadora Duncan: "You have shaken my principles - I am trying to find in my art what you are creating in yours. That is beauty, simple as nature".
      The main thing in the art of the dancer - the freedom of movements of the liberated human body - was well understood by such Russian ballet-masters as Mikhail Fokine and Alexander Gorsky. This freedom of the movements was also perceived by the outstanding soloists of Russian classical ballet whose dance acquired greater freedom after Isadora Duncan's guest performances. All this, - not to speak of the dramatic story of her love affair and marriage with Sergei Esenin, their journey in Europe and America and later divorce, - brought Isadora's name close to all cultural people in Russia. This is what Boris Pasternak wrote about Esenin:'Like Tzarevich Ivan on the Gray Wolf, he flew over the ocean and caught Isadora Duncan as the Fire-Bird by the tail'. Postcards with pictures of Isadora were widely dispersed over the country, and admission to a performance of hers was regarded as a rare chance. The author of these lines remembers since his childhood a story told by his mother, one of the oldest Moscow writers, Cecilia Banu, about how at the age of 13 she was lucky enough to win, only one of several hundred contenders, the only ticket given out for her school in a lottery in 1924 in Kiev. She recalls:
      "I admit that my first impressions of the famous newcomer were not all too favorable: dyed hair, a waist and gait far from airiness differed from what I had earlier imagined. But all this was forgotten and disappeared with the first movements of the barefoot dancer. Her success reached the top when she danced the polka, announced to have been her favorite dance since childhood. A graceful joyous girl appeared before us, and the joy she was radiating was embraced by the whole overcrowded hall.
       This joy accompanied me home. Next morning at school I again felt it when sharing my impressions with the crowd of my colleagues who were surrounding me." I also remember the stories about Isadora told by a personal acquaintance of hers, Ivy Walterovna Litvinova or Ivy Low, widow of the Russian diplomat Maxim Litvinov, an English lady whom I had the honor to be acquainted with in the 60-ies and who by her eccentric character resembled Isadora. In 1921 she was delegated by the Soviet government to meet the honorable guest and she stood at the pier of Reval harbour meeting the steamship Baltanic on 19 July 1921 with Isadora on board. This is what she wrote to Isadora on 26 December 1921 about her impressions of her performance: "Dearest, Most Glorious Creature!
      Your Slavonic March was something no one can ever forget. Seeing you I lived a hundred years of agony and slavery, but came out into the sunlight at last. But I am still trembling...
      I have never even dreamt of such a human, living relation between artist and audience. Now you have really given the Moscow proletariat something for their very own. It was a lovely public - all soldiers and women with handkerchiefs on their heads.
      Good-bye, my infinitely beautiful one.
      Yours always, Ivy Litvinoff."
      In the spring of 1921, during a tour in London, after negotiations with the Soviet trade representative in Great Britain, L.B.Krasin, and after the exchange of notes with the folk commissar of enlightenment A. V. Lunacharsky, Isadora Duncan made an important decision to go to Soviet Russia. Because she had been promised a state dance school free of charge, full financial and moral support of the new communist power. In vain a number of friends and acquaintances tried to dissuade her from taking this step, in vain they read and told her about the atrocities of the Bolshevists, this was Isadora's answer: "Well, if this is all true, then I must go!" At her concert in Paris she declared: "I will go to Russia with the Bolshevists. I know nothing about their politics. I am not a politician. But I will say to the leaders: 'Give me your children, and I will teach them to dance like gods or... assassinate me. They will give me my school or they will assassinate me. For if I do not have my school, I would far rather be killed. It would be much better..."
      And thus in July 1921 Isadora arrived by the steamship Baltanic from London to Reval (now Tallin), went on by train via Petrograd to Moscow. She was accompanied by her true beloved pupil and adopted daughter Irma - the other pupils decided in the last moment not to go with her into the fearful land of the Bolshevists - and the French housemaid Jean. They had to feel right away the difficult consequences of the civil war that had recently ended and of the devastation: to spend the night in the Moscow hotel Savoy with huge rats in the room, to eat suspiciously looking soup and black bread. And she had to collide with inevitable Russian bureaucracy. There were many difficulties with the accommodation and in the search for convenient premises for the school. For a certain time Isadora even stayed in a village hut on the Sparrow Hills, in the neighbourhood of commissar Nikolai Podvoisky's family. Nevertheless she coped with all inconveniences and difficulties, which was made easier by contacts with former good friends, like Stanislavsky, Lunacharsky, Konionkov.
      Eventually an accommodation for the school was found; a beautiful building at 20 Prechistenka. The authorities made great efforts to create a material foundation and a large staff - teachers, secretaries, servants, cleaners, girl-typists, cooks etc. Ilya Ilyich Schneider became the administrative manager, expert and lover of ballet, experienced journalist, displaying organizing qualities. He became Isadora's private secretary from the first days of her stay. Lunacharsky gave her permanent support and help. Soon the school turned into an exemplary educational institution where conditions had been created for the pupils to obtain an excellent training.
      We quote an original announcement from the Moscow dailies of 1925 when Isadora had already left Moscow.
      "Isadora Duncan School headed by Irma Duncan.
      Moscow, 20 Prechistenka.
      Open for children of 4 to 12 with full board.
      The programme of the school:
      1. General education (full course of the workers' school I and II degrees).
      2. Foreign languages: French, English (daily according to the Berlitz method)
      3. Arts: Dance (as element of education). Music. Singing. Painting, Design.
      4. Gymnastics
      5. Manual works
      6. Household and cooking
      7. Moving games
      8. Children's club
      9. Excursions
      A physician is constantly staying in the school. Library, ambulance, pharmacy, sewing workshop, laundry, bathroom, kitchen, etc. The school spends the summer on a real estate near Moscow. For the conditions of admission consult the manager of the school I. I. Schneider. Permanent registration for evening courses for adults."
      I dare say such program would an honour to any present school in Russia! Naturally there were difficulties. There was no auditorium for spectators, nor was there a stage for rehearsals to show the works and there were even no premises large enough for the classes. The food was scarce, and there were problems with heating which threatened the normal way of teaching and even the health of the pupils.
      Nevertheless the school did exist and was widely popular. The number of those asking for admission was invariably high. Isadora and Irma led the auditions. At the beginning there were three boys among the selected children but later only girls remained. 'Isadora Duncan's state school' opened in mid-October 1921 and the children already took part in the festive spectacle on the stage of the Bolshoi performing Isadora's recently created dance "International" on 7 November. The concert attended by the leaders of the state, scored great success, and Lenin himself greeted Isadora from his box by having sent flowers to her and to Irma.
      Isadora stayed in Russia for three years, sharing all the inconveniences involved. Her dream was to raise the number of her pupils up to a thousand (half of them were meant to be boys) but the dream never came true, and this was not her fault.
      Unfortunately, the government of that time, having given her a warm welcome, later failed to meet its obligations and cast the school, so to say, to the mercy of fate in the conditions of the "New Economic Policy", that is, without means for paying for heating, lighting, the services of the staff and so on. This compelled Isadora to undertake unwillingly permanent difficult and often painful tours in Russia and also in Europe and in America. The tours in destroyed Russia produced practically no income while the authorities permanently required performances for the functionaries and workers free of charge.
      Meanwhile in West Europe and particularly in America the people could not forgive her enthusiastic belief in the Russian experiment. By the way, this belief came gradually to be cooled down after direct contacts with several aspects of the regime, with such organisations as the Cheka.
      Here is what Isadora wrote from Yekaterinburg to Irma in Moscow while on a tour in the summer of 1924 with the pianist Mark Meichick and her impresario Boris Zinoviev, from a place where the family of emperor Nikolai II had brutally been executed.
       'The tourn'\e is one calamity after another, for although I dance to a large public of communists and workmen, no one has money to buy tickets... and they cordially detest me... You have no idea what a living nightmare is until you see this town. Perhaps the killing here of a certain family in a cellar has cast a sort of Edgar Allen Poe gloom over the place - or perhaps it was always like that ... When you go in the streets the gitan yells 'Prava' or 'Lieva' ('to the right' and 'to the left') and points his gun at you. No one seems to have any sense of humour whatever.
       The head of the communists said: 'How could Meichick play such disgusting music as Liszt or Wagner!...' Another said: 'I did not at all understand the 'International'!...'
       Our two performances were a four noire* and, as usual, we are stranded and don't know where to go. There is no restaurant here, only 'common eating-houses' and no coiffeurs. The only remaining fossil of that name, while burning my hair off with trembling fingers, assured me there was not one dama left here - they shot'em All.
       We saw the house and the cellar where they shot a certain family. Its psychosis seems to pervade the atmosphere. You can't imagine anything more fearful.
       Meichick takes a box of veronal an hour and is sunk in an "Ewigen schlaf"**
       Darling (Zinoviev) rushes from one bureau to another in search of "dingy"*** only to learn that they don't like me at all, and don't approve of me. In fact this town is as near hell as anything I have ever met... We arrived Vyatka without a kopeck. This is a village with awful hotel. Bed-bugs, mice and other agreements... It is too awful. I haven't a bottle of eau-de-cologne, no soap, nor toothpaste since a month. The beds are made of boards and populated. The stains and pistol shots in the mirror. C'est tr'[s amusant****. My Hair is quite white from lack of henna shampoo and I feel extremely kaput. The red curtains, on account of being packed wet, are quite grey with mildew and all falling to pieces; impossible to use them.
       With love to the children and love to you, sterbende***** Isadora ___________________
      * Failure (French)
      ** Eternal sleep (German)
      *** Money (Russian)
      **** This is very amusingly (French).
      ***** Dying (German)
      Yes, Isadora had to put up with many undeserved offences in Russia. The Philistines mocked at her, called 'Dun'ka-communistka'. ('Dun'ka' is the vulgar Russian woman's name; 'communistka' - the woman-communist').
      While touring the Caucasus in 1923 in Kislovodsk she had a sharp conflict with the local organisations of the Cheka; they insisted on excluding from her programme Tchaikovsky's 'Slavonic March' because it contained the tune of the old Russian hymn 'God, Save the Tzar'. Isadora refused to comply with their requirement but in a demonstrative manner turned to the public and performed her dance unaltered. Then the Cheka people searched her hotel room, arrested her secretary I.I. Schneider, yet she managed to tear him out of the hands of the Cheka by a personal intervention with Lev Trotsky who happened to spend his holidays in Kislovodsk. On this occasion Isadora did not fail to pelt the Cheka leader with all abuses known to her in Russian. Irrespective of this Isadora lived an intensive creative life in Russia. She attended theatre performances, concerts, the workshops and studios of painters and sculptor, children's homes, received in her premises actors, artists, poets invariably treating them to her last reserves of food. She maintained friendly relations with Lunacharsky, Stanislavsky, Konionkov and many other representatives of Russian culture.
      In Moscow Isadora met a young poet Sergei Esenin, and the love at first sight broke out between them. Through Esenin she became acquainted with a number of literary people, from 'imaginist' poets to Maxim Gorky. In order to carry out her hottest desire, namely to take her admired friend out of Russia into Europe and America, Isadora had to overcome her disgust with the 'bourgeois institution of marriage'. On 2 May 1922 a civil marriage between the poet Sergei Esenin and the dancer Isadora Duncan was concluded in the Khamovniky registry office - the first and last official marriage in her life. Irma attended the ceremony. A photograph made on that very day has been preserved. On 10 May the married couple set on their journey to visit Germany, France, Italy and America. This was to last one year and three months. When they returned to Moscow in August 1923, they separated.
      After their separation and the death of the poet Isadora always spoke well of him. Her touching letters and the American and French newspapers about Esenin are examples of high nobility. She never legalized their divorce. After his death the works of Esenin began to be edited in unprecedented number of copies in Russia, and the royalties for them only in the first year reached a huge sum of 300 000 francs. In the autumn of 1926 the Moscow court assigned all this sum to Isadora as Esenin's legal widow and heiress-at-law. Lunacharsky himself informed Isadora about this in France. But Isadora, being herself in a very difficult financial situation, however, refused all the money as well as all future incomes without any further considerations in favour of Esenin's mother and sister!
      Isadora's conduct under all the difficult circumstances of her relations with Esenin was characterized by loyalty, forbearance, and magnanimous love' - wrote Irma, who was the witness of the whole romance. While Isadora travelled abroad with Esenin, Irma took care of the small pupils in Moscow working unselfishly for 8-9 hours a day teaching them plastic dance and even gymnastics. She managed to master the daily Russian language though now and then she made funny mistakes but was perhaps the first to laugh at them heartily. She had a marvellous figure, a great sense of humour coupled with German discipline and accuracy, and she herself was an excellent dancer.
      In Moscow Irma found her first love and married. Her husband became Ilya Ilyich Schneider (1891-1980), a very interesting and many-sided personality whose romantic relation to Irma greatly contributed his having a good command of the German language. In his young days he was a friend of the poet and singer Alexander Vertinsky and also the poets Sergei Esenin and Vladimir Mayakovsky. Schneider was a handsome Don Juan and had innumerable wives and girl-friends, including known ballet-dancers Maria d'Arto, Yekaterina Geltser, Viktorina Kriger, Irma Duncan, and later, until an old age, young pupils of the School and dancers of the Duncan Studio. During all her trips Isadora maintained permanent correspondence with Irma. This is what she wrote from Tashkent on 10 July 1924:
      'Courage; it's a long way, but light is ahead. My art was the flower of an epoch, but that epoch is dead and Europe is the past. These red tunicked kids are the future. So it is fine to work for them. Plough the ground, sow the seed and prepare for the next generation that will express the new world. What else is there to do? ... Love to the children. All my love to you. You are my only disciple and with you I see the Future. It is there - and we will dance the Ninth Symphony yet. With love - Isadora.'
      In her farewell performance in New York in 1934 Irma Duncan's last dance was the 'Ode to Joy' from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
      The serious shortcomings of the means for the maintenance of the school and the utter impossibility of earning in Russia compelled Isadora to sign a contract with a German impresario and go to Europe. By this time she had acquired Soviet citizenship which she preserved until her death. Irma stayed in Moscow where she continued to direct the school. Wherever Isadora went in Russia she invariably collected children around herself and gave them dance lessons. This took place in Narva, in Baku, in Mozhaisk and in Moscow. In the capital during the summer of 1924 the best pupils of the school led by Isadora and Irma taught dances and movements in the Red Stadion (now this spot is occupied by the Building exhibition on the Frunze embankment) with about 500 children of workers, boys and girls (called then "young Trotskyists"!). Isadora arranged for them seven dances to revolutionary songs. She also composed a few dances to music by Skriabin and two mourning dances in honour of Lenin.
      For her farewell performance at the beginning of September 1924, in the Kamernyi Theatre, she arranged a series of dances which were inspired by the struggle for Freedom in various other countries of the world. She herself began the programme by miming an Irish song which Irma sang off-stage: "The Wearin' o' the Green'. This was followed by the girls dancing a glorified version of the Irish jig and reel combined. The French Revolution episode followed this, and Isadora gave her blood-stirring representation of the Marseillaise, the words of which were sung off-stage by a singer from the Moscow Opera. She danced, then, with all the girls, a thrilling Carmagnole. Then came the stirring R'Skoczi March portraying the Hungarian revolt. Isadora soon left Russia for good. To judge from her constant correspondence with Irma, she intended to return until the last day, should there arise any hope of help to the school from the state or should she herself be able to earn sufficient money. But none of these happened: in Moscow the government did not help the school as before and most impresarios of Europe refused to have anything to do with Isadora now considered to be a 'red dancer'.
      Finding herself in Berlin, she has quickly realized the situation. 'Berlin is simply fearful. Better to sell matches on the streets of Moscow. Here is no spirit: everything congested with patriotismus and fatherland. It is awful.' She moved to France where she spent the last three years of her life, mostly in Paris and in Nice. Here, too, she had serious financial difficulties, and only the success of her book 'My Life' helped her financial affairs. Her tragic death in September 1927 put an end to her plans and hopes.
      Isadora always use to say, that three years she spent in Russia were indeed, in spite of all the adversities, the most happy piece of her life.
      This is what Isadora wrote to Irma from Berlin in October 1924:
      'This Europe is quite impossible. I am homesick for the soldiers singing and the children singing and the marching forward Rabochy Narod! (working people.) This old world is dead as a door nail. The children here look like Muffins compared to the Russians. I am not, perhaps, competent to explain what has happened there, but here nothing has happened, and the people are just simply stopped. Something must happen before they become alive again. At present here all is dead.'
      But she had not also special hopes for Moscow:
      'Unless the Soviet Gov't will help, I think it is about hopeless for the school in Moscow. But you know, being a bit prophetic, I sensed as much when I was last there.'
      The news of Isadora's tragic death reached her school while on tour in Donbass. After this loss Irma continued to direct the school for two years on Prechistenka and to teach the children, which accompanied her on the tours all over Russia and the Far East, including even China. The performances were invariably successful. Here is a report in a newspaper: 'Fifteen young students displayed a new, happy art. Irma Duncan's dance, as light as air, carries the spectators into a clear, joyful kingdom, streamed like sunbeams from the stage. Irma Duncan herself is an excellent artist. Her temperament lends her dance particular liveliness.' Similar enthusiastic declarations were glorious.
      In 1929, when the signs of toughening of the Soviet regime began to be observed more distinctly, Irma nevertheless managed, together with an American impresario Sol Hurok, old admirer of Isadora's art, to organize a tour in America with the best 11 pupils of the School. This tour went on for almost one year and a half with exceptional success. By that time Irma had divorced Schneider who preferred the young Maria Borisova, future star of the Duncan Studio whose career unfortunately did not last long.
      Eventually the authorities in Moscow started to insist categorically on the returning of the touring group. Borovsky, the soviet consul in Washington, contacted the chief dancers without Irma's knowledge menacing them with reprisals on their families in Moscow in case they failed to come home. Irma succeeded in persuading the girls to stay by promising them splendid careers in the West, even by withholding their luggage, but unsuccessfully.
      To her horror she read in an American newspaper that immediately after their return to Moscow the pupils supposedly were put to the repressions. She could not check-up these reports, and connection with them was interrupted for many years. Returning to Moscow, where the School as before did not obtain any state support, Irma considered it impossible. She wrote about this with a heavy heart in her later memoires.
      In New York Irma started from nought, gathering young pupils and showing outstanding courage, persistence, will-power and efficiency, she opened a Duncan Dance School. She should fundamentally be credited with the fact that plastic dance has survived in the United States until this very day and that Duncan Dance Schools actually function in New York, Boston and San Francisco.
      In 1934, after her marriage with the lawyer Sherman Rogers, Irma abandoned the stage but went on teaching and came to be seriously engaged in painting. Her life in America in general proved to be successful. She lived long and happy years in her cosy white-and-blue house among the green hills in Longway, upstate New York. She herself had painted and decorated her house, which was always open to friends whom she treated to self-cooked meals. She stayed true to her adopted mother by writing and publishing three books about her and by turning over the rich material collected over many years about Isadora to the Duncan Collection at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts.
      The prophetical gift did not betray Isadora. Elena Vladimirovna Terentieva, a member of the group having toured America, told me that upon their return they were received in Moscow with utter indifference. By that time the school had been ousted from Prechistenka, in fact had stopped functioning. With heroic efforts Schneider managed to collect the best pupils of Isadora and Irma and organized a studio Concert of Duncan Dance. In spite of not having any permanent premises for rehearing, with infinite tours through Russia (they were let go abroad no more, except some short-term tours to such territories as Eastern Poland before the second world war, or the Soviet Occupation Zone of Germany after the war), the Duncan Studio, suffering more and more suspicious treatment from the authorities still existed and even worked successfully. Several dancers of the new generation were collected by Schneider who engaged eminent choreographers to compose new dances. In the thirties and forties a number of Russian choreographers did pay tribute to Isadora's art. We find among these such outstanding names as Lev Lukin, artistic manager of the Studio for a number of years, Vladimir Burmeister and Leonid Yakobson.
      Let me say a few words about the famous choreographer Kasian Goleizovsky, which may surprise the readers. The famous soviet film 'Circus' directed by Grigory Alexandrov shown in the thirties tells of an American artist Marion Dixon coming to the USSR excellently impersonated by the film star Liubov Orlova. But only a few people would guess that the figure of Marion and the whole story of her romance with the handsome Russian boy Martynov had been written by the scene writers (the famous writers Ilf and Petrov) under the influence of Isadora Duncan's life and arrival in Soviet Russia and of her romance with Sergei Esenin! Hardly anybody would remember that the 'apo-theosis' of the film with the splendid ballet in the arena of the circus after the flight of the heroes into the 'stratosphere', impersonated by the 'girls' of the Moscow music hall, was staged namely by Kasian Goleizovsky. Unfortunately his name as well as the names of the scene writers Ilf and Petrov were eventually omitted - by reasons alien to art - from the list of participants.
      After the war Kasian Goleizovsky, living difficult times, was invited once to work with the Duncan Studio where he started to compose dances but could not finish. The Duncan studio preserved the living continuity of the art of its great founder and her favourite disciple for almost thirty years and became the brilliant phenomenon in artistic life of Moscow and throughout Russia.
      At the beginning of 1949 the Studio gave two concerts in the prestigious Tchaikovsky Concert-hall of Moscow. Though the concerts scored great success, this was already the end. After the well-known resolutions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the program speeches of A. Zhdanov, after the campaign against 'cosmopolitism' and the 'kow-towing to the corrupt bourgeois West', the next coil of reprisals came untwisted, this time against Soviet culture as a whole. In the press have appeared the inspired gangster reviews, such as the article by A.Anisimov in the newspaper 'Sovetskoye Iskusstvo' ('Soviet Art') on 19 March 1949 in which the author wrote:
       "The influence of the cosmopolitans without kith or kin - hostile to the Soviet people and alien to the Soviet stage, - the shameless kow-towing to 'foreigners' will have to be eradicated. The activity of the Duncan Studio propagandizing a sick and decadent art which had been brought to our country from America, essentially far from the foundations of realistic national art, will have to be re-examined.'
       What was said was soon done. Eradicate! And within two months the Duncan Studio was liquidated, thus sharing the fate of Meyerhold Theatre, of Tairov's Chamber Theatre and the Jewish Theatre of Mikhoels which had enthusiastically been acclaimed in 1935 by Gordon Craig, Isadora's friend and father of her first child. The head of the Studio, I.I.Schneider, did not avoid the fate of many representatives of culture of those days. He was arrested between the two last concerts of the Studio and sentenced to ten years in Gulag of which he served six. When rehabilitated he came back to Moscow only in 1955.
       This fate was shared by several Russian public figures who had played some part in Isadora's life.
       In 1963, in the heat of the 'Khrushchov's thaw', a group of Isadora and Irma Duncan's former pupils, later the members of the Studio, wrote a letter to E. Furtseva, minister of culture, asking for help in restoring the Duncan Studio in Moscow. And this is the formal reply they got:
      'The art of plastic dancer as artistic school represented by I. Duncan and her followers played a progressive role in the early years of Soviet Power. Since then plastic dance has lost its importance for the Soviet spectator. It would be incorrect to subordinate the training of contemporary dancers to plastic training. The Department of Musical Institutions of the Ministry for Culture of the USSR does not consider it expedient to organize a studio for plastic dances.' By this time the most eminent solo dancers of the Studio, Aleksandra Aksenova was no longer alive. She used to be praised by Sergei Esenin, calling her 'kapel'ka' ('a droplet'), and also Tamara Lobanovskaia, Maria Toropchenova and Doda Ozhegova. Some other solo dancers of the Studio, however, were alive and active, like Maria Borisova, Maria Mysovskaia, Elena Terentieva, Valentina Boye, Yulia Vashentseva, Elizaveta Belova, Tamara Semionova, Vera Golovina. Naturally, refusal like the one quoted above obviously cooled down their desire. Thus the last attempt at saving an unrepeatable unique but, unfortunately, fragile art failed.
      Only in the 90-ies, when interest in plastic dance was reborn, particularly in Isadora's heritage in Russia (in 1993 an international festival and conference were organized in Moscow in honour of I. Duncan), some former pupils and artists of the Studio made more or less successful though separate attempts at passing on their art to contemporary pupils. Actually these pupils were amateur dancers, 'fanatics' of plastic dance, like Carol Pratl (Paris) who had a few lessons with Elena Terentieva in Moscow, or Vera Belozorovich who had the luck to find Maria Mysovskaia. By the way, the latter had earlier studied choreography in one of the Moscow schools and managed to stage a few performances.
      For a few years Lidia Gicheva, member of the last generation in the Studio, held courses of plastic dance in one of the Houses of culture for a group. This, however, was only an exception confirming the rule: Duncan's unique art that survived until 1949 in Moscow, now, maybe, nowhere in the whole world, seems - unfortunately - to have disappeared with the liquidation of the Moscow Studio.
      In 1967 Moscow ballet writer N.P.Roslavleva started a correspondence with Irma Duncan in English. Irma had had no contact with her pupils for some forty years and asked her to find them. Some of them learned that their teacher was alive and expecting letters, yet none of them answered Irma, which is quite natural: the fear was still alive in their hearts. Only eight years later Valentina Boye - a beautiful dancer, former soloist of the Duncan Studio - decided to answer Irma to Santa Barbara where she had settled with her husband and from where V. Boye got soon a happy and touching response:
      "My dear Valia, Thank you so much for your sweet letter. I was so glad to hear from you after all these years. I remember you and all the other pupils of mine from the Moscow School, who danced with me here, in Russia, and China, very well. I have not forgotten either. Oh, how often I have thought of you all and wondered whatever has happened to you during the war and afterwards. You did not tell me anything of your own life. Have you been happy? And are you still dancing or teaching? Do write me again and give me news of yourself and the others who are still alive. It has been such a long time since any of my former dance students have written to me. Not for forty years... I have wonderful memories of my sojourn in Russia and of all of you, dear children who worked with me so seriously and cheerfully. I am sure, dear Valia, that you cried in the lessons no more than once. They were as a whole pretty efficient but painless. I always made a point of maturing my pupils that is why they learned so well.
      Love to you and all the other girls.'
      By this time, however, these 'girls' were over sixty and most of them were grandmothers.
      Irma had time to exchange a few letters with V. Boye and with I. Schneider but she could not deny being hurt - and, let us add, with good reason - because in N. Roslavleva's monography published in 1975 in English in New York about Duncan's Moscow school (which Irma had read with attention) the author almost missed mentioning Irma Duncan, which was by no means accidental but rather the consequence of the ideological trend of those days. Irma Duncan died on 20 September 1978 in Santa Barbara, at the age of 81, which was reported to Moscow by her inconsolable husband. She had devoted eight years - practically all her young years - to enthusiastic creative work with young daughters of Russia who felt touching affection and gratitude to her until the last days of their life.
      Among those known to be living in Moscow today is Elena Fedorovskaia, disciple of Isadora and Irma Duncan, later the dancer of the Duncan Studio of many years until its closing in 1949, as well as Tatiana Tereshko, dancer of the Studio in the 30-ies and 40-ies. Both of them have preserved happy memories and tell very interesting stories about their past.
      In 2000 an international exhibition called 'Plastic Human Being' and a scientific conference were held in Moscow where the author of these lines made a lecture on the topic of the present article.
      In our days there are several studios and groups of plastic dance in the capital of Russia with teachers like Inessa Kulagina, Marina Voskaniants, Valentina Riazanova, Tatiana Kniazeva, Larisa Varenik, Svetlana Mikhailova, Tatiana Trifonova, Olga and Dina Maznevs, Aida Ailamazian and others. These studios are attended by both children and adults. One of the most interesting dancer and choreographer of this trend, Natalia Fiodorova, is now engaged in Brazil.
      The analysis and appraisal of these groups would go far beyond the limits of the present paper. Let me mention, however, that they make every effort within the possibilities to resurrect and preserve the art of Isadora and Irma Duncan, of Ella Rabenek, of Ludmila Alexeyeva, Stefanida Rudneva, Emma Fish and of the other outstanding predecessors.
      Short information about the author
      Lahuti Giv Gasemovich, b.1937 in Moscow, Russia. Member of the Union of Moscow writers and journalists. Specialist of history of culture, especially of literature and music in Russia in XX century.
      Since 1992 he is the author a lot of articles, radiocompositions and air-shows about Isadora Duncan and her life and art. Translated from English into Russian some books and other materials and also took part in several conferences as expert on this topic.
      Lives in Moscow.
       Свободный танец, пришедший в Россию с Айседорой Дункан, позволил в движении, пластике выразить идеи раскрепощения, завладевшие тогда художественной элитой. Революционный дух и новаторство стали плотью этого явления.
       Россия имела в 1910-20 годах XX века одну из самых интересных систем свободного танца в Европе. Тогда танцем интересовались лучшие художники времени: Экстер, Эрдман, Изнар, Дани, Галаджев. Танец рисовали Юткевич и Эйзенштейн. Идеями свободного танца вдохновлялся Михаил Фокин. Среди тех, кто оценил свободный танец, как выразительное средство были Станиславский и Мейерхольд. У лучших фотографов того времени: Сидорова, Свищова-Паолы, Гринберга, Наппельбаума, Власьевского были работы, посвященные искусству движения.
       Была создана уникальная организация, интеллектуальный центр Нового танца - Хореологическая лаборатория при Академии Художественных Наук. Ее вдохновитель, В. Кандинский, мечтал о создании нового синтетического вида искусства. Над этим же работал А. Скрябин - объединяя музыку, свет и пластику.
       Сейчас происходит возврат интереса к идеи синтеза искусств, синфобалету, поиски концепций нового музыкального театра. Способствовать этому возрождению может российский пластический танец, который, несмотря на жесткую российскую реальность, не погиб, а за 100 лет трансформировался и развился в уникальный модерно-классический стиль танца.
       В 2004 году был создан центр свободного танца 'Гептахор', автономная некоммерческая организация, объединившая несколько российских коллективов. Художественной и творческой работе центра помогает обширная теоретическая и исследовательская работа.
       Основные направления работы центра свободного танца 'Гептахор':
       1.творческое: создание и дальнейший прокат музыкально-пластических спектаклей;
       А. Скрябин 'Поэма экстаза' - музыкально-пластическое действо. Премьера - 2005 г, Концертный зал им. П. И. Чайковского.
       К. В. Глюк 'Орфей и Эвридика' - вокально-пластическое действо. Премьера - 2005 г, культурный центр Дом.
       Л. Бетховен '7 симфония' - музыкально-пластическое действо. Проект/ Концерты. Проведение концертов в Москве с 1910 г., в Санкт - Петербурге с 1905 г., в российских регионах, в Брюсселе 1995г., Париже 1994-1997гг., турне по США.
       Коллективы вошедшие в центр 'Гептахор' на протяжении многих лет ведут концертную деятельность.
       Участие и проведение международных фестивалей:
       Фестиваль памяти Стефаниды Рудневой, Санкт-Петербург, 1998;
       Международная конференция 'Человек пластический', Москва, 1999 г;
       Всемирный конгресс Женева, 1999;
       III фестиваль аутентичного музыкально-театрального искусства 'Московское действо' Москва, 2001;
       Фестиваль в память первого выступления А. Дункан Будапешт, 2002;
       V фестиваль аутентичного музыкально-театрального искусства 'Московское действо' Москва, 2005;
       Проект: Будва, 2006 г, Москва, 2007 г, Авиньен, 2008 г.
       2. культурно-просветительское: выставки живописных, графических работ и уникальных фотодокументов с начала ХХ века и до наших дней, из музеев, частных собраний и архивов (нар. худ РСФСР Чернышев, Добров, Свищов-Паоло, Гринберг, Наппельбаум и д.р.), издание фотодокументов, репродукции живописных и графических работ; воспоминаний создателей, участников и свидетелей рождения свободного танца и пластики; каталогов фестивалей, выставок; материалов международных конференций; создание видеоматериалов, телепередач; публикации в СМИ, показ на ТВ.
       3. исследовательское:
       научная работа 'движение как развитие личности', проводится на психологическом факультете МГУ им. М. В. Ломоносова.
       развивающие и коррекционные занятия со взрослыми и детьми
       создание информационной базы о свободном танце, разработка и адаптация уже существующих методик, подготовка кадров.
       Участники проекта - Айламазьян Аида Меликовна кандидат психологических наук, преподаватель, старший научный сотрудник факультета психологии МГУ им. М. В. Ломоносова, основатель центра свободного танца 'Гептахор'; Ганешина Мария Андреевна преподаватель ГИТИСа по вокалу и хормейстер, доцент кафедры вокального искусства; Кулагина Инесса Евдокимовна руководитель Студии художественного движения ЦДУ РАН, научный сотрудник института художественного образования РАО; Шубина Зоя Борисовна художник, член Московского Союза Художников и Международной Федерации Художников ЮНЕСКО;

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  • Обновлено: 30/03/2009. 108k. Статистика.
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