Isadora Duncan – Mother of Modern Dance

Day 130 of Colourisation Project – September 14

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

87 years ago on this day, September 14, 1927, Angela Isadora Duncan, the Mother of Modern Dance died in the most horrific of circumstances in Nice, France. Duncan a passenger in a convertible sports car, broke her neck and died instantly when her long flowing silk scarf became entangled around the open-spoked wheel and rear axle of the car.

Moments earlier as the car took off, she reportedly shouted to her friends, “Adieu, mes amis, je vais a la gloire!” — “Goodbye my friends, I go to glory!”

On news of her death, Gertrude Stein is claimed to have said, “Affectations can be dangerous.”

Tragically Duncan’s two small children also lost their lives to an automobile accident when the car they were riding in plunged over a bridge and into the Seine in Paris in 1913.

Isadora Duncan

Dover St Studios – Isadora Duncan c 1909 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Born in 1877 in San Francisco, Isadora Duncan was an American pioneer of dance but moved to Europe in her early 20s where she became renowned as a free-spirited dancer. A self-styled revolutionary she exerted great influence over the dance movement not only in America but throughout Europe and Russia as well. Although she was exiled from the United States for her pro-Soviet sympathies she performed to great acclaim throughout Europe, creating a sensation everywhere she performed. During her last United States tour in 1922–23; Duncan waved a red scarf and bared her breast on stage in Boston, proclaiming, “This is red! So am I!”

Duncan was trailblazer who formulated her own philosophy of The Dance of the Future which was modeled after the ancient Greeks. She came to be referred to as the ‘Mother of Modern Dance.’

Eschewing the rigidity of ballet, she championed the notion of free-spiritedness, inspired by the music of classical composers and the high ideals of ancient Greece: beauty, philosophy, and humanity. Her performances celebrated independence, self-expression and were improvisational and emotional. In her own words, ‘they were choreographed to rediscover the beautiful, rhythmical motions of the human body.’ Duncan always danced barefoot, with loose hair and free flowing togas and scarves.

Determined to dance her own dance, off stage she lived accordingly; flouting traditional mores and morality and defying social custom. Duncan did not believe in marriage.  A feminist and a champion in the struggle for women‘s rights, she was also bisexual and an advocate of free love.

Her autobiography, My Life, was published the same year of her death and has gone on to become a critically acclaimed work.

In 1987, she was inducted into the National Museum of Dance’s Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame.


“The dance of the future will have to become again a high religious art as it was with the Greeks. For art which is not religious is not art, is mere merchandise.”   Isadora Duncan

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Dance, Photography, Women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Isadora Duncan – Mother of Modern Dance

  1. Pingback: Natalie Clifford Barney – Left Bank Lover | Random Phoughts

  2. Pingback: Gertrude Stein is Gertrude Stein is… | Random Phoughts

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