Reviving Isadora: Staging Works by the Mother of Modern Dance

Research Unplugged was more than just a conversation on Wednesday, April 15, when professor Elisha Clark Halpin spoke about the life and legacy of influential choreographer Isadora Duncan, interspersed with several short dances performed by students of the Penn State dance program.

black and white photo of woman in long white dress
Wikimedia Commons

Isadora Duncan

Halpin, assistant professor and head of Penn State's dance program, described some of Duncan's main influences, notably her art-appreciative mother, Greek philosophy and art, and the works of Walt Whitman and Friedrich Nietzsche. The audience also learned intriguing facts about Duncan's unconventional life and precocious childhood. Duncan started her first dance school at age five, explained Halpin, noting that Isadora recruited other children in the neighborhood and taught them how to sway their arms properly.

Duncan went on to become famous for her style of natural dance and focus on the free movements of the body. Halpin's dance students gracefully demonstrated some original Duncan dances for the Research Unplugged audience. The dancers were dressed in Duncan fashion, barefoot and free to move, and some even wearing the loose Greek-style tunics that Duncan preferred.

Halpin credited Duncan's original dancers, nicknamed the "Isadorables" and The Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation for spreading Duncan's style of natural dance to the world.

Last Updated April 20, 2009