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92Y to Unveil "Excercizes for the Dance," A Handwritten Isadora Duncan Manuscript

92Y to Unveil "Excercizes for the Dance," A Handwritten Isadora Duncan Manuscript

Published on October 21, 2019
Photo credit: The London Observer

92Y Harkness Dance Center and Lori Belilove, Artistic Director of The Isadora Duncan Dance Company, announce the premiere unveiling of Excercizes for the Dance, a revelatory rare manuscript—written in Duncan’s hand— that sheds light on a key stage in Duncan’s career through sketches, diagrams and text. History books have claimed Isadora's work died with her, that her choreographies were not transmittable, and that her technique and style were un-teachable. However, in this brief 16-page notebook, Duncan lays out the five balletic positions and talks about leg extensions, torso bending and folding, and explains the foundations of her skips, waltzes, and turns.

The Duncan Foundation acquired the manuscript at the prompting of Peter Kurth, Duncan's definitive biographer, who urged IDDF director, Lori Belilove and board of directors to reclaim this seminal document, linking the historical facts with her first-known explanations of her dance technique.

Comments Lori Belilove, “This manuscript shatters misconceptions about Duncan’s technique and artistry, and I’m thrilled to be unveiling it at the 92nd Street Y, which has played a crucial role in the world of modern dance for decades.”

Goddess of the 21st Century: Transmission of Isadora Duncan solos with Sara Mearns, Lori Belilove and Cameron Grant.

The Excercizes unveiling is part of 92Y’s Harkness Presents program Goddess of the 21st Century: Transmission of Isadora Duncan Solos featuring dancers Lori Belilove and Sara Mearns performing Duncan solos with pianist Cameron Grant accompanying. Belilove  will demonstrate and talk through aspects of Duncan’s technique as described in the manuscript and will show many pages from the notebook featuring Duncan’s text and sketches transcribed from her longhand.  

The manuscript was originally written for Stella Campbell, circa 1902. Campbell was the daughter of Mrs. Patrick Campbell (1865-1940) a famous English actress well known for her brilliant portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, a role created for her by George Bernard Shaw. Campbell saw the 24-year-old Isadora and brother Raymond Duncan dancing in Kensington Gardens and, charmed by their grace and beauty, introduced Duncan to her London society circle and hired Isadora to teach her 18-year-old daughter Stella.


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