Isadora Duncan International Symposium 2017
Session Descriptions

Storytelling and Duncan

Patricia Adams, Kelli Edwards, Sandra Zarotney-Keldsen, Irene Lutts

Practical Workshop/Class 

What are the stories that we associate with Isadora’s dances and what are the stories we create for ourselves in order to interpret the dances? Patricia Adams will lead us through an exploration of various dances from the repertoire (which may include The Mother, The Oriental or Gypsy Mazurka, and Narcissus) focusing on the use of the solar plexus, hands, and feet, and the intention behind the movement. Discussions and coaching will focus on the use of imagery in the performer’s mind to make the gesture more specific, for example, feeling the weight and movement of the water in the Narcissus.  It’s how the dancer imbues those movement details with personal meaning that conveys the story.  Duncan’s dances are in danger of being lost without reinterpretation of the stories that the dances tell. Because of advances in dance technique and audience sophistication, it is vital that dancers performing Duncan’s work today have a firm understanding of the stories behind the dances and a willingness to explore the humanity behind the gestures.   While the dances must be supported by a deep understanding of Duncan’s technique, it’s the intention behind the movement that bridges the gap between audience and performer. 


Inspired by Duncan; New and Reimagined Works

Patricia Adams, Kelli Edwards, Sandra Zarotney-Keldsen, Irene Lutts

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 

Dances by Isadora - Boston will present and discuss four pieces that fall under the categories of new work inspired by Duncan and reinterpretations of Duncan’s work. We will present a reinterpretation of The Seagull, inspired by last year’s symposium workshop taught by Beth Jucovy. The image of a flock of seagulls from that workshop prompted us to explore this dance as a group piece for a performance in Vermont. For the same performance, Kelli Edwards choreographed a new Duncan inspired piece for the Brahms Opus 39, using the previously unchoreographed No. 9. For a gala event of the Boston Dance Alliance, we were invited to create a moving tableau in the style of Duncan. We were inspired by Duncan’s use of classical and renaissance art to inform her movement imagery, therefore we took images from artists including Titian, Rubens, and Raphael, and ancient Greek vases, and framed them with the use of a long piece of white silk.  Finally we will present a video from a performance of a new piece also choreographed by Kelli Edwards called Serenade for String Bikini. Serenade is a contemporary piece inspired by themes in Duncan’s work regarding feminism, sensuality, and the body –ideas which are still potently relevant today. This piece brings together the radical notions in dance of both Duncan and the Judson Church in both theme and choreographic choices.  


Dancing with the Elements

Thea Keats Beaulieu

Practical Workshop/Class 


In this workshop you will learn the qualities and movements for each element: Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.  These elements are based on the principle of Aruyvedic Medicine and the works of Dr. Randolph Stone.  These elements are around us and their qualities live as energies within us. You will learn to experience your feelings as physical sensations and become softer so that each element can be your friend.  The goal of these exercises is to help you to become more flexible, so you can flow from one element to another. We will learn the music for different elements and experience movement metaphors, from the repertoire of Isadora Duncan. These movements are for movers of all levels and for anyone who wants to have an experience of the elements other than through an intellectual understanding.  Moving is like breathing, essential to life. The more we move, the happier and healthier we are. The more flexible we are, the more we can 'go with the flow', and move with all of life's challenges, the easier our life becomes.


Dancing the Soul

Alice Bloch

Practical Workshop/Class 


The word “soul” is ubiquitous in Isadora’s writings and surely motivates her choreography.  But what does it mean to dance from one’s soul, both for the dancer and for the audience.  This lecture/workshop begins with a presentation on sacred dance in world cultures.  It includes the Jewish concept, “The Soul of the Soul,” and the Sh’ma, the ubiquity of spiritualist practices in the late 19th century, and how Isadora’s Irish Catholic heritage may have influenced her movement and philosophy.  Then individual participants articulate their definitions of soul in three words and/or drawings, and three movements.  They share their definitions with the group.   In the mode of the Offering Walk, participants take their individual movements into space, gradually forming affinity groups.  Each small group improvises on the theme: “The Soul’s Journey.”  From their improvisation they create a short movement phrase to share with the group.  We discuss how soul consciousness can enhance our experience, teaching, and performance of Duncan dance, and how we may be using it in our current practice.  We conclude with an improvisation inspired by archetypal Duncan movements such as breathing from the solar plexus, wave forms, giving and calling gestures, and the Universe.


Preserving Plastique: an Exploration of Noyes Rhythm and Duncan Dance

Meg Brooker

Practical Workshop/Class 

Duncan dance features a unique quality of movement, distinct from other modern dance techniques and contemporary practices. While we situate Duncan’s performance legacy within the genre of modern dance, in her time, this was not yet the language used to categorize her movement. Duncan hesitated to call herself a dancer, preferring descriptions like “expressionist of beauty.” Other terms used to describe the quality of Duncan’s movement include rhythmic and plastique.  In this workshop, we will explore the qualities of heightened awareness, listening, and responsiveness to music and imagery that are essential characteristics of Duncan’s art. How do we teach, practice, develop, and preserve these rhythmic, plastique qualities of Duncan dance? As part of our exploration, we will experience exercises developed by Duncan contemporaries Florence Fleming Noyes and Constantine Stanislavski. We will examine the relationships between intention, impulse, and image, remembering that Duncan’s artistic goal was a unified vision of performance featuring music, movement, and poetry. It is through these expressive qualities that Duncan’s work was related to the most innovative performance practices of her day. In a contemporary context, this quality of expression retains a distinction. How can we continue to explore and transmit this unique aspect of Duncan dance?



Meg Brooker

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 



Choreography by: Meg Brooker

Music: Chasse Neige, Transcendental Etude No. 12 by Franz Liszt

Originally choreographed as a solo in Isadora Duncan technique, Birches premiered as part of Hot September Flurries in Austin, Texas, in 2007. In 2015, Meg created a trio version for the premiere of Dancestry. The movement is inspired by Meg's travels to Russia and by the Robert Frost poem “Birches.”  In this piece, Meg is working within Duncan technique to create her own, original movement vocabulary. The dance features gesture evocative of the peeling trunks of birch trees and recalling the stark beauty of these trees in the nighttime snow. 


Dance Educators Dialogue - Duncan Principles in Practice

Meg Brooker, Catherine Gallant, Frederick Curry, Janaea Lyn McAlee

Panel/Working Roundtable 


Facilitated by current members of the Isadora Duncan Archive Committee, this session is open to everyone who uses or seeks to incorporate the breadth of Duncan’s philosophy, pedagogy, legacy, history, technique and repertory in a classroom setting. Participants will dialogue about their pedagogical practices in a range of educational contexts and brainstorm ways the Archive can be used as a supplemental educational tool. The Archive Committee seeks to gain insight from current Duncan dance educators to assist the committee with developing materials and resources to assist dance educators in all settings. 


Duncan Dance and (Poetic) Language

Hannah Brooks-Motl, Ingrid Becker

Lecture Demonstration 

In a 1927 New Yorker profile of Isadora Duncan, Janet Flanner described a “summer program” Duncan held in her studio: Jean Cocteau “French poet… accompanied her dancing with his spoken verse.” We know how important music is to Duncan technique; what might it mean to dance to language? How can we bridge, as Isadora did, the sounds of language and the movements of dance? Language was always important to Duncan’s art. Her extensive use of discursive techniques to frame her dance sets her apart from other modern dance pioneers. She wrote essays, manifestos, speeches, and philosophized her dance. And modernist poets—Cocteau but also Gertrude Stein, Carl Sandburg, and others—were inspired by her movement, stretching their writing practices to accommodate the creative fluid expression of embodied thought Duncan captured.  This lecture-demonstration will seek bridges between voice and gesture, writing and moving, and language as an embodied act. Our own experiences choreographing Stein’s poem-portrait of Duncan, “Orta or One Dancing,” will lead into discussion and exploration of the rhythms across—and play between—reading, listening, saying, and dancing. 


Ode to Isadora

Ashley Ann Burton

Video Showing


Ashley Ann Burton Toronto, Canada (BFA, BE.d, MA)

Dance Artist, Researcher and Choreographer

Ode to Isadora, a full-length choreographic work, aims to transmit Isadora Duncan's natural dance philosophy as a pedagogical and compositional method to enhance individual expressivity and performance engagement. Through a combination of historical and embodied Duncan research done in Athens, Greece and New York City, I have develop a methodology whereby Duncan's dance philosophy becomes a tool for accessing the expressive dancing body.  Ode to Isadora premieres in Toronto, Canada on February 15th-17th, 2017 at York University. The live performance will be professionally documented. The choreography investigates Duncan's ideologies of light, freedom of spirit and pure joy by embracing the natural dancing body. It is my goal through this research to re-ignite the absent presence of Isadora Duncan in Canada. 


Duncan Dance, Why Does It Feel So D@m# Good? /  A look at the core principles of movement initiation from the solar plexus and breath through the lens of Laban Movement Analysis, Kestenberg Movement Profile and other dance therapy theory.

Marie Carstens

Practical Workshop/Class 

“Why does Duncan dance feel so good? What is happening that we often feel transported, transformed when dancing in this way?”

This presentation aims to answer these questions using dance/movement therapy framework, movement analysis language and more specifically early developmental movement.  This workshop presentation bridges Duncan Dance with the movement analysis work of Judith Kestenberg, M.D., and “father” of movement analysis Rudolf Laban as well as dance therapy theory. One foundation of dance/movement therapy is that as humans we exist as an integrated body/mind in a constant bi-lateral or, reciprocal relationship; a change in body produces a change in mind, and vice versa.  This basic premise offers a vehicle for understanding how transformation might occur in dance or any movement practice. However, what is specifically transformative to Duncan Dance as a technique? To answer this we look more closely at the relationship between Laban’s system of analysis, Body, Shape, Effort and Space, and even more directly to Kestenberg’s concepts of Shape-Flow and Tension-Flow.   These concepts focus us on patterns of breath and neuro-muscular tension that serve as a substrate for the rich texture of mature Effort and Shape, an earmark of Duncan dance. Participants will experience subtle variations in movement aspiring toward more qualitative freedom and fullness.  This workshop will examine the nuances of how breath and tension activate the solar plexus, the genesis of all movement, and from this, move more fully into Duncan work that employs Laban’s concept of Space Harmony bridging our inner impulses to outward expression. 


Dancing the Spirit of Music

 Ann Elise Cogley

Practical Workshop/Class 

Isadora’s young pupils possessed “a spiritual power and grace” not “born from the physical frame, or created from the brain.” She accomplished this, she writes, by simply telling the children to “Listen to the music with your soul.” Throughout every aspect of her classes Mignon Garland repeatedly admonished, “listen to the music.” This is how she encouraged our deeply felt, personal expression even while dancing within a group. In today’s world of constant aural bombardment, our habits of listening need refinement. Throughout this standard Duncan class we will practice listening in ways that turn our practice into a musical experience as well as a physical one. We will use recorded music from different eras and artists to increase our musical repertoire and to find what works best. Finally, we will perform a Duncan heritage Chopin dance to a variety of pianists to learn how deep listening transforms our interpretation physically. By coming back again and again to the spirit of music in every aspect of our work, our dance will grow more nuanced, lyrical and rapturous!


Bringing Duncan to the Masses: Neo Burlesque and Duncan dance

Christina Cornell-Pape

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion

In this informal showing and discussion, we will be demonstrating examples of Duncan-style choreography as part of the neo-burlesque movement.  Duncan dance is used as a beautiful and graceful dance style,  It can also be used as a clear way to convey emotion and meaning through body language in the story telling of neo-burlesque performances.  Not only can Duncan dance concepts be used to improve the teaching of neo-burlesque movements, but Duncan dance vocabulary translates onto the modern day bar-room stage to reach a diverse and modern audience.  From fan dancing to acts involving in-depth story-telling and character development, Duncan dance expresses physicality and emotional context in a unique and heartfelt way.  The vulnerability and the emotional context conveyed in the Duncan style movements can be identified and understood by completely sober and even tipsy audiences in theaters, burlesque stages, and bar rooms from coast to coast.  Duncan techniques can be brought forward to bridge Isadora’s independence and beauty in the political and story-heavy climate of the neo-burlesque genre.  I, perhaps with some assistance from other burlesque performers, will present a sample of newly choreographed dances, which rely heavy upon the Duncan technique.  We will then discuss the dances, their format, the compelling attributes about the numbers.   We will talk about the reasons that the Duncan technique and vocabulary bridge both time and what would initially assume to be vastly different dance types and techniques to audience delight.  


Revival of the sacred dance in a free form in the way of Isadora & Raymond Duncan

Fabienne Courmont

Practical Workshop/Class

As Raymond Duncan said “Dance can be a means of absorbing the harmonious movements of the Universe and sowing them to the public.” In the Dance of Being©, the "technique" is the life perpetual movement, participating to all forms of nature. When energy moves freely within us, we are in harmony with the Universe. In this workshop, we will unify body, soul and spirit. In the continuity of the research of Isadora and Raymond Duncan, drawing inspiration from ancient Greek art and Nô Theater we will then come into contact with sacred geometric shapes, the essence of dance, eternal, timeless, sacred.


Dance Performance The Dance of the Godesses

Fabienne Courmont

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 

This dance is an approach of the mystery of the sacred feminine. In my body temple, in connection with Gaïa and the fundamental movement of the wave, I will dance the qualities of movement and energy of Aphrodite and Athena.

An Overview: Soul, Legacy & Duncan Threads in Peru’s Dance History

Jacqueline Crousillat F

Research Paper/Lecture 


The presentation examines Duncan’s legacy, as that associated to ‘solar plexus’ self-discovery. In doing so, it elaborates on the following related areas: (i) history of dance in Peru, (ii) personal experience, and (iii) Duncan’s influence in the evolution of Peruvian art dance. Jacqueline’s work is based on her dance and photography experience with a focus on ‘solar plexus’ to bridge into a photography that aims, through experiment, to find and record the tangible and intangible peak moments of man’s unique dance. Her method includes: activation of ‘solar plexus’ to movement, to performance, ending with discovery of personal dance from self-expression, play, joy and soul. In parallel, the presenter’s search and analysis traces Duncan threads of indirect and direct influence relating to Peru’s art dance, including possible links with Peruvian modern dancer Helba Huara (1905-1986). The presentation will mention the importance of Duncan’s work in reference to today’s technologically driven era, where often dance becomes movement for movement’s sake, choreographed to counts, robotic and soulless in nature. Duncan’s philosophy is again at the fore: a call of hope aimed at the preservation of soul and humanity.The presentation will be supported by photographs, video clips and personal experiences to elicit techniques and approaches to the ‘solar plexus’ in the creation of personal authenticity in art dance.


Maria-Theresa: Appealing to our Creative Intelligence

Maria del Rosario Villasana

Practical Workshop/Class 

"Follow Me!" is our invitation to the dance, a call to which we joyfully and enthusiastically respond.  Dancing with and for Maria-Theresa was a revelation and invitation to be authentic and creative, to infuse dance with fresh vigor and passion! Join me in an exploration of Maria-Theresa’s legacy and contributions to the Art of Isadora Duncan Dance.  "The dance is the most natural and beautiful aid to the development of the growing child in its constant movement, and only that education is right which includes the dance... "-- Isadora Duncan


Discovering the Male Duncan Dancer

John Faiello 

Practical Workshop/Class 

The lesson plan for my ninety (90) minute Master Class will encompass seventy (70) minutes of exercises and the remaining of choreography. The first twenty-five minutes will be a warm-up, some of which is loosely structured and some of which is definitively choreographed. Next a ten (10) minute barre followed by practice of various basic rhythms, walking, running, skipping, leaping and the like. I will deliver the examination of the androgyny, ambidexterity, per se, referencing gender perception, blurring the misrepresented gender barrier line that any Duncan dancer encounters. What it is not; is the hyper-masculinizing of any movement, dance or theme! It is not a deconstruction of technique or chorography. A detraction of the feminine affect, invites an exploration of the frame-work, scaffolding, structure of the movements in technique practice and in the dances. Any and all exercises, choreography and music selections are authentic direct lineage teachings from The Isadora Duncan Heritage Society under the direction of Mignon Garland and the San Francisco Duncan Dancers circa 1986 - 1989.

Resurgence: Solo spirit to group strength 

Catherine Gallant, Loretta Thomas

 Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 


How does a dance exist after it has been performed? What happens to a dance when it becomes “lost”? The Allegretto section from Isadora Duncan's work to Beethoven's Symphony No.7 Op. 92, was performed in 1979 when Maria Theresa Duncan presented a group reconstruction of this work with her Heritage Company. Originally Duncan performed three movements of the symphony as a solo and was accompanied by a full orchestra. She performed the work between the years 1904-1909 in the US, France and the Netherlands. Dances by Isadora will present their 2016 reconstruction of Allegretto (choreography, Catherine Gallant). This work bridges the ephemeral divide of time and movement knowledge as it honors Duncan’s spirit through our own interpretation. This dance is an important representation of Duncan's musical intelligence and marks her primary foray into abstraction as a catalyst for her dance making process. Critics of the time were outraged at her choice to dance to Beethoven and called it a “sacrilege”. This reconstruction, or more aptly, “reimagining” project, is a significant historical and educational undertaking and reanimates the work by enlivening the extant elements from the Maria Theresa lineage and expanding the choreography of the Allegretto section into a group works. Along with our deep understanding of the technique and repertoire of Duncan we have used the beauty and power of the music to support and guide the choreography. It is both Duncan’s dance and our dance. Audience feedback and discussion immediately follows the presentation.


Making Connections to Dance History: Sharing the Legacy of Isadora Duncan in dance education K-12 using the DEL Model         

Catherine Gallant

Practical Workshop/Class 

This workshop explores age appropriate ways for dance educators to share material from Isadora Duncan’s legacy using the DEL model. Participants will explore the concept of dance legacy through technique, improvisation, repertory and dance-making. The interactive workshop focuses on Duncan's Dance of the Furies providing access to historic repertoire and offering ways to effectively share it with students of all ages in a variety of educational settings, including public school, afterschool, private studios and community centers.  The DEL (Dance Education Laboratory) model encourages teachers and students to look at dance using a spirit of inquiry and exploration through the language of LMA (Laban Movement Analysis). This introductory experience of investigation and analysis, creates a bridge between the original 1911 creation of Duncan and the contemporary concerns of students’ lives, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of dance history in a social and historical context. The Dance of the Furies (part C.W. Gluck’s 1758 opera based on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice), provides strong curricular connections to music, visual arts and literacy among the layers of history that filter through the dancing. The development of the workshop includes participants working collaboratively in small groups to create their own work using the DEL movement sentence structure and the movement characteristics emphasized in

Duncan’s original choreography. Time will be allowed at the end of the session for participants to reflect, through discussion and written response, on the role of dance history in K-12 dance education.


Mignon Garland (1908-1999) Premier Second Generation Duncan Dancer—a recollection by her son. 

Victor Garlin

Research Paper/Lecture 

Mignon Garland, who died in 1999, was a second generation Isadora Duncan dancer and teacher whose influence on a generation of students helped shape the West Coast Isadora Duncan Revival. After attending a recital by Anna Duncan in 1926, she began studies with her, where she met Julia Levien and Hortense Kooluris (nee Dolan), who became lifetime collaborators. In 1929, when Irma Duncan's second American tour collapsed because of hostility from the Russian government, Mignon and five other students of Anna were requisitioned by Irma as replacements. These six toured the United States and Cuba with Irma in 1929-30. In 1931-1933 Mignon studied in Moscow at the Isadora Duncan School. Returning to the US, she brought back dances to include in the American Isadora Duncan repertoire. After her divorce in 1943 she returned immediately to the dance world, performing with Julia Levien and Hortense Kooluris in New York. In 1952 Mignon and the five other pupils of Anna Duncan who had performed with Irma in 1929-30 gave a recital in New York at Carnegie Recital Hall. In 1957 Mignon moved to the Bay Area. In 1969, at age 61, she decided to develop a company of dancers and to promote, in San Francisco, the legacy of Isadora Duncan in the city of her birth. Starting with pupils in San Francisco's Neighborhood Arts program, Mignon founded the San Francisco Duncan Dancers, giving annual performances in San Francisco, culminating in a final performance in 1989. In 1973 she founded the Isadora Duncan Heritage Society to promote the legacy of Isadora Duncan in San Francisco. Accomplishments of the Society included the placing of a plaque on the site of Isadora's birth, having Isadora's 100th birthday celebrated in a mayoral proclamation, having the street directly above Isadora's birth site renamed Isadora Duncan Place, and celebrating International Women's Day with a dance recital inside San Francisco City Hall. Mignon Garland's influence lives on through dance activities of many of her pupils. She, along with Julia Levien and Hortense Kooluris have proven to be among the most influential of the second generation Isadora Duncan Dancers.

Turkish Village Theatre and Sacred Dance
Selcuk Goldere



The Turkish Village Theatre subject is my starting point for your conference in which I have researched some interesting rituals about games and ritual patterns about Anatolian dances and theatre. Isadora Duncan's expressionist modern dance theory gives us an opportunity to observe that dance is not only following music but also listening our inner rhythms to express it. Our inner side is very natural and organic than our outside which is very physical. For Isadora Duncan the truth was beauty, and the beauty was truth as I remember. What was about it? The nature was so important for the human being...At first, Isadora was dealing with this problem in her dance, she was looking for the truth in nature such as wind and the sea...The Turkish Theatre has no professional actors and actress in it like professional city theatres. It creates its own performers and it doesn't need a theatre building to show the performance. They are ok with their villagers and with their squares in the village. That is an extraordinary originality for the theatre itself. The position of an actor/director and the situation to give a theatre performance still are different in our villages. Our contemporary theatre is still affected by its approach. I will try to give some connections between Isadora Duncan Sacred Dance and the Turkish Theatre and Dance

Sacred Rituals.

A Duncan Dance Childhood in NYC, 1938-1950

Joanna Harris

Lecture/demonstration with participation

A Duncan Dance Childhood: Studies with Anita Zahn, Kathleen Hinni and others; New York City, 1938-1950. Duncan Dance, sometimes called 'natural dance' and 'creative dance' in the early years was my basic dance education. This “Duncan Dance,” training, so called by my teachers, included studies in music, theater and performance as well as methodology for training teachers. Thus, we learned many children's games and songs, probably from the Elizabeth Duncan tradition. I would like to share those as well as insights gained after my many years of teaching and dancing.


Isadora and the Oresteia: Time and Story in Duncan and Aeschylus

Rachel Herzog

Research Paper/Lecture 

For Isadora Duncan, the imagined space of the classical world was itself a kind of bridge. Inspiration from Greek art and literature helped her construct an imaginative bridge from the dance of the present to that of the future, even while she rhetorically employed the symbols of the classical past to gain entrance into a cultural milieu which revered these as signs of high culture. Duncan’s work was reciprocally engaged with that of classical scholars of her time, such as Jane Ellen Harrison, who introduced a conception of the ritual and mystic as essential to the study of the Greeks. Over the past century, the academic discipline of classics and the artistic world of Duncan practitioners have grown ever more distant, even while Duncan dancers continue to draw inspiration from mythology and classics has turned ever more attention towards reception, adaptation, and performance as methods of engagement with antiquity. This paper hopes to take a step towards bridging the gap between classicists and Duncan practitioners by exploring the sophistication of Duncan’s adaptations of Greek tragedy, and demonstrating how a classicist’s tools of philological close-reading can enrich our understanding of the repertory. As a case study, I will present a reading of pivotal odes from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and Eumenides against selections from Duncan’s Gluck works, including “Air Gai-Lento-Air Gai” and “Dance of the Furies,” arguing that Aeschylus’ innovative approach to storytelling, temporality, and choral expression influenced Duncan’s own structural and expressive experimentation.



Marion Hollerung, Astrid Schleusener

Practical Workshop/Class 

Our teaching at the Elizabeth Duncan Schule is based on 20 body exercises (`Körperübungen`), for each of them the musician of the school, Max Merz, has composed a simple melody which is supporting the respective movement. For us, the most important exercise is the “wave”, and some other movements referring to movements of the nature prepare bodies (and souls) for dancing. For physiological reasons, we had to alter or abolish some exercises because we cannot teach in the same way at 100 years before-we know more about the functions of the body. Duncan dance is timeless because of its natural way of moving. In a lecture demonstration first we would show the original `Körper- Übungen` with the original music, then we would work intensively with our new exercises which are based on the original movements. Our pianist also changed parts of the original music corresponding to the changed movements. In the 2nd part we would prepare for improvisation: Every movement should follow the music, “we dance the music” as Elizabeth Duncan said. The music is the beginning of our emotions, finding adequate inner pictures caused by music. The dancer translates music into his/her body speech. For us this aspect is modern and timeless (“The Dance of the Future”). To express not just the melody, but also the content of the music and to create an awareness for its structure, we are first analysing it. Music in Duncan dance is almost always “classical” music, but in some of it you can also find modern elements (Robert Schumann for example). How do these modern elements change our movements and expression? How to work with modern pieces, for example with music of Arvo Pärt? These are interesting challenges we like to share with you. 

Prelude # 12 Night Ride

MaryBeth Hraniotis

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 

Isadora’s prelude #12 Night Ride set to the music of Chopin is a rarely seen choreographic gem shining brightly at middle ground among 24 Preludes which are part of the movement language and legacy that Isadora left to her adopted daughter, Maria Theresa Duncan directly. Each dance is poised to follow one after another in a moving tableau, yet all can stand individually as complete works, giving the viewer a glimpse into her imaginal oeuvre.The Preludes traverse Duncan’s sentient imaginal body resplendent with emotive gestural language and in particular remind us that she did create a dance primer for us to follow, successfully codifying her technique. Duncan’s influence has been integrated into classic dance techniques but nowhere more clearly is it seen than in Night Ride as the embodiment of the wild “Soul Nature in Motion” made manifest; and whose moving compass most directly points towards contemporary Modern dance. This fast paced, non stop tour de force reveals Duncan in her raw elemental state; uniquely powerful and intensely intellectual. She traverses the movement vocabulary of Modernism bridging time & techniques seamlessly. The dance choreography within this particular prelude is as if Duncan catapults herself into the 21st century as witnessed by rarely seen verticality in rotation, quick shifts of weight, large bounding gestures while crossing spacial fields, incorporating the “gaze” as import to this mythic realm; willing the audience to take a Night Ride. This dance stands on its own as the expression of her genius. 


Enhancing Healthy Neurobiological Development for Children: Modern Applications of Isadora's Myth Stories

Dicki Johnson Macy

Practical Workshop/Class 


“Free animals when placed under false restriction, lose the power to move in harmony with nature and adopt movement which is expressive of this restriction.”  Isadora Duncan’s statement has such relevance today: We are a culture that now models and passes on, for and to our children, expression and social engagement that has become truncated and superficial. As we relate to one another through technical devises and utilize social media to communicate, we increasingly truncate our gestural language. Co-regulation, which is necessary for healthy relationship building in neurobiological development, requires body, breath and gaze: Co-regulation requests reciprocity; Digital connection is  never reciprocal.

Those of us launched as children in schools of Duncan Dance understand certain components of Isadora’s work, that she may not have been articulated as such. 1) Formulaically her etudes include the following which give them a deep and three dimensional social emotional quality: 1) form (the architecture and physical steps), 2) feeling (the emotional intention of the steps), and 3) gaze (how it is that dancer interacts with the physical or social environment).  The face to heart connection is bidirectional, and a core neural component of social engagement present at birth. Digital relationships are promoting acute disconnection. What we bring to children, through the embodied myths and archetypal stories Isadora danced, is a reconnection to the natural world, to our unconscious imagery, and to each other. This workshop will illustrate through lecture, film and experience, how I adapt myth themes for children’s classes. Children experience the  reciprocity and harmony in relationship building through Duncan’s work which are not sanctioned by our extraverted society.  


Perceptions of Beauty

Beth Jucovy

Practical Workshop/Class 

Isadora had much in common with transcendentalists. According to Emerson, "all human beings are called to a profound communion with nature in their search for the "oversoul"... Artists are the ones to fulfill this search by giving new forms to beauty in nature". 'Beauty', for Duncan was a state of being in harmony with self, nature and the cosmos. She accentuated the connection between the body and soul. Another contextual factor was the narrow view of what an American woman could be. Duncan used the female body uniquely; she transformed the audiences’ assessment of the physical female body into beauty and artistry rather than sexuality. Today, we are again questioning the meaning of "beauty" and the relevance of beauty in art. We are also again examining women's roles and meanings of gender. In this workshop we will experience a process of finding beauty as seen through the viewpoint of Isadora. Through suggestions, visualizations, music and movement we will experience the profundity of nature and our connection to it and to the "oversoul", which is so much a part of Isadora's art. We will explore Duncan's nuances of beauty through various pieces of her repertory. We will also explore current perceptions of beauty: we will brainstorm definitions and discuss its role and importance in art. Is there a resurgence of Isadora's beliefs regarding beauty and spirituality? How does science fit in? Are there gender differences in how beauty is expressed? Individuals will explore their own perceptions through improvisation and art-making. 


Despair, Hope and Victory

Beth Jucovy, Adrienne Ramm 

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 

"I believe that in each life there is a spiritual line, an upward curve, and all that adheres to and strengthens this line is our real life - the rest is but as

chaff falling from us as our souls progress. Such a spiritual line is my Art" Isaodora's dramatic life was filled with joy and passion but also with tragedy, disillusion and despair. Her art was her lifeline. Her art expressed timelessness, eternity, truths beyond the confines of time and space. Several of her later works start in states of despair, in the midst of life's tragedies. Through her art, she is resurrected and she ressurrects, through her art she expresses eternity. This holds for personal experience as well as regarding worldly affairs. She felt we must fight for all that is noble; her vehicle was of course, her art.  "Ideals incarnate... Dyonisus, Christ, Buddha, and the force of the present epoch is Lenin. Yes I am a revolutionist. All true artists are revolutionists. ... I have watched the poor starved bodies, their weak backs and shrunken limbs. Yet I see in these downtrodden ones, the promise of America, Wake up in time!" Adrienne Ramm and I propose a showing of Isadora duets and solos works that exemplify this timeless theme so central to Isadora's work, including some lesser seen repertory. We will use live music and discuss with viewers the present relevancy of this worldview


Building on the essence of Duncan dance technique throughout time - practical workshop/class with Barbara Kane

Barbara Kane

Practical Workshop/Class 

In this workshop, Barbara would like to share the method of teaching that she learned from Lillian Rosenberg (pupil of Irma Duncan) and which Barbara has enlarged via barre, centre and movement studies incorporating some aspects of Russian Musical Movement. We will also learn a small section of Lillian Rosenberg's choreography to a Bach Rondo.


Duncan Dance and The Alexander Technique 

Dawn Karlovsky

Practical Workshop/Class 

The more I study and research the works and philosophies of Isadora Duncan, the more I become stunned to discover the strong correlation between Duncan and F. M. Alexander, father of somatics and originator of the Alexander Technique.  Both were born in the late 1800’s, and both were forward-thinking individuals who did not follow the mainstream thoughts and views of their time.   Instead, their visions for the future elevated human potential.   As Duncan revolutionized the “dance of the future‚” F. M. Alexander revolutionized the study of human reaction.  The work of Duncan and Alexander focuses on the use of the "Self", a term they both use in their writings to describe their shared perspective of “psycho-physical‚” the inseparable unity of being of mind, body (and spirit). The bridge of time and technique is evident with and between these two individuals whose revolutionary concepts were challenged at the turn of the 20th century, but whose enduring commitment to their work influenced dancers and artists and somatic practitioners throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. This workshop will be an introduction to the concepts and practice of the Alexander Technique with direct application to dance.  The studies will emphasize conscious attention and awareness of the whole self while experimenting with simple movement patterns. We will discuss and practice how to recognize unnecessary tension in our selves that may be interfering with the efficiency and effectiveness of our movements.  Discover “the highest intelligence in the freest body!” (Duncan)


Isadora Duncan in the 21st Century: Capturing the Art and Soul of the Dancer's Legacy

Andrea Mantell Seidel

 Lecture/Power Point/Discussion 


This lecture/power point/discussion, based on chapters in my book, Isadora Duncan in the 21st Century: Capturing the Art and Soul of the Dancer’s Legacy, will address aspects of the conference theme related to some of the undervalued elements of Duncan’s work in 21st century practices.  Reinvented 21st century Duncan dance, while deemed an “old technique,” may bring a fresh, new perspective to the art of teaching and performing. By accessing the deeper layers of the psyche through dramatic play, visualization, and mind/body/spirit connection, practitioners’ lives may be positively impacted both inside and outside the studio. Secondly, Duncan’s discovery of spontaneous movement not as a profession or art but as an innate universal biological function has been largely undervalued not only in artistic communities but also among the general public. This concept, along with her emphasis on movement as a “complete conception of life,” an embodiment of the “highest ideals of humanity,” and as deeply rooted in nature and the natural body can be of broader service to the health and welfare of society and the environment, reminding us to cherish nature rather than exploit it. Duncan’s ideals also can serve as a catalyst for ethical and social change and spiritual transformation.  In summary, this session will address how Isadora’s great vision is still potently relevant for this increasingly fragmented, disconnected, and relativistic age of “metamodernism,” as inspiration to envision not only a harmoniously integrated dancer of the future, but also more broadly, a humanity with an elevated soul, consciousness, and intellect. Stephanie Bastos, long-time dancer with Seidel’s company, the Isadora Duncan Dance Ensemble, who lost her leg in a tragic car accident, and continued to dance with the company with a prosthetic leg a year later, will participate in the discussion. Stephanie will share her personal story as to how Duncan dance became a tool for self-empowerment, courage, and summoning the will to learn to dance again.


Body/Mindfulness:  A 21st Century Movement Practice Integrating Duncan Technique, Somatic Practices, and Sacred Ritual Practices

Andrea Mantell Seidel

 Practical Workshop/Class 


This movement workshop draws on the presenter’s life-long explorations and study of sacred dance rituals in world cultures and the “religion of the body” of Isadora Duncan, as well as her background in yoga and somatics. The workshop seeks to create a “bridge” between some of Duncan’s basic principles and technique with contemporary mindfulness techniques, somatics, and transformative healing and spiritual practices.  The workshop incorporates key Duncan principles including the use of the breath and activation of the solar plexus or heart center;  the “universe” exercise; natural, organic “wave motions;” and arcing patterns of motion integrated with body/mind centering principles, meditative exercises, creative imagery and visualizations, movement improvisation, and  practices adapted from a variety of sacred rituals throughout the world. The class structure will begin with a brief talk explaining some of the basic principles incorporated in the exercises and then progress to some simple warm-up exercises, creative visualizations and a guided meditation on the floor, and then movement through space. These strategies can help to ignite what Isadora called “the motor in the soul,” and to promote a mind/body integration. Additional goals of the workshop are to promote personal transformation, activate radiant, organic energy and the “light” body;  and help reconnect participants to the heart and soul of the “Self.”  The class is designed for both dancers and non-dancers of all backgrounds and age ranges. 


Mindful Dancing: Duncan Dance as a Moving Meditation - A Workshop for Dance Educators

Janaea Lyn McAlee

Practical Workshop/Class 


In this workshop participants will experience and analyze how Duncan's philosophy of dance pedagogy, the structure of a Duncan dance class, its movement techniques and choreographic approaches can all be adapted and applied to teaching any type of dance or movement class to heighten mindfulness and deepen one’s sense of self and community.  Mindfulness and meditation are old/new concepts that are becoming increasingly popular in many contexts, including education, to increase awareness and sustain focus in our twenty-first century digital age. As a practice, mindfulness promotes enhanced and concurrent awareness of one’s body, mind, emotions and spirit in each moment in conjunction with a heightened connection to others and the world we share. This is often accomplished using key tools of breath phrasing, natural imagery and sound/music. While the study of any form of dance requires a level of awareness and focus, Duncan’s philosophy and dance form is rooted in the concepts that encourage and promote mindful moving and can serve as a touchstone for enhancing all types of dance education for learners and teachers alike. These include intention as movement initiator; breath as the physical expression; nature and music as sources of inspiration; an integrated sense of self as a requisite for authentic dance interpretation; and communal connection valued above that of soloist. 


The Narcissus Project

Janaea Lyn McAlee

Practical Workshop/Class 

The use of Greek mythology to reflect and comment on human behavior throughout history has been an inspiration to many artists and Isadora Duncan was no exception. Her solo choreography on the myth of Narcissus to the music of Chopin is well known to Duncan dancers as a solo which depicts the dangers of all consuming love of self. In this age of “selfies” I thought it would be a wonderful to revisit this work as it was choreographed in 1903, but to do so as a contemporary statement of our times as an open performance event. The premise is to present/perform this dance by anyone who knows it, in any version, in a space with everyone facing in different directions but dancing simultaneously. The choreographic power of lots of dancers all spinning and staring at their hands and ignoring each other instantly makes this dance relevant to our 21st century zeitgeist. The dance will be taught/reviewed in the workshop beforehand so any interested dancers can learn the choreography in order to participate. The “flash mob” style performance event will take place independent of the class.


Remembering Mignon Garland’s Pedagogy

Janaea Lyn McAlee

Panel Discussion with Moderator 


This panel will provide an opportunity for former students/dancers to share and reflect upon Mignon’s approach to teaching the Duncan work, and to explore its evolution throughout the decades of 1970-1990. Mignon Garland was a student of Anna and Irma Duncan, a member of the American Isadora Duncan Dancers, and studied at the Russian Duncan school. She began teaching Duncan Dance in San Francisco in 1971 when the Women’s Liberation Movement was blossoming and Isadora Duncan was rediscovered as an inspirational model of freedom and artistry by a new generation of dancers. Mignon’s first West Coast performance was in Berkeley (with Hortense Kooluris) at a women’s conference sponsored by the National Organization for Women. In 1973, she created the Isadora Duncan Heritage Society and the San Francisco Duncan Dancers, who performed throughout the Bay Area until 1991.


The Three Graces: Classical form, Femininity and Unity

Melinda McGee

Practical Workshop/Class 


The Three Graces, a study in classical form, femininity, and movement.  Throughout the ages, images of three linked women have been iconic visions of womanhood.  One of the first Duncan dances I learned was “The Three Graces,” set to a Schubert Waltz.  On the surface this is a very simple dance; on further study, this is a dance of complex nuance, musicality and emotional depth.   I always felt that something was missing from the dance until we were coached by Elena Terentieva in Moscow in the early 1990s.   I will share what I learned to provide more depth and richness to a quintessential Duncan dance.  Understanding this dance at a deep level, lays a necessary foundation to build the other repertory on. Today’s trained dancers can easily learn the steps but they don’t understand the subtle musicality or grasp the nuance and sophistication of ensemble work.  The Three Graces are “one” being not “three” soloists.   I will attempt to bridge the divide between steps and spirit for those who are open to learn or re-learn this beautiful dance. In addition, I will present a slide show of images of the Three Graces over the centuries and discuss the significance of this theme in art and in the Duncan work.


The Temple of Wings

Margaretta Mitchell

Lecture/Video Screening  


Photographer Margaretta K. Mitchell screens Dance for Life, featuring images capturing the dance legacy of Isadora Duncan at The Temple of Wings, and lectures about the history of The Temple of Wings as a space for Duncan dance. The Temple of Wings was built between 1911-1915 by Florence Treadwell Boyton, a childhood friend of Isadora Duncan. Boyton taught Duncan dance at the Temple, and her daughter carried on the Duncan tradition until her death in 1983. Mitchell spent over twenty years photographing dancers at The Temple of Wings, and in 2001 she collaborated with Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony on a performed version of her images. Mitchell’s work has been supported by a number of grants, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Polaroid Foundation.


Screening: Movement From the Soul

Margaretta K. Mitchell, Lori Belilove

Video Showing & Lecture 


In the effort to bridge time, and shed light on the past, Margaretta K. Mitchell, with insights from Lori Belilove, will present excerpts from the film Isadora Duncan: Movement From the Soul. Belilove was a consultant and leading dancer in the award-winning PBS documentary, which also features performances by Madeline Lytton. Mitchell was also a consultant and the film’s photographer. Production anecdotes and a Q&A will follow the screening. Isadora Duncan: Movement From the Soul, produced and directed by Dayna Goldfine and Daniel Geller c 1989, features Lori Belilove, with narration by Julie Harris. Duncan’s life, illustrated by rare archival photographs, newspaper clippings and historical footage, provides the backdrop for her dances. Twelve choreographies are staged including Water Study, Narcissus, Gypsy Mazurka, Mother, Revolutionary, Marche Heroique and Dance of the Furies.  Additional performers include Duncan dancer Madeline Lytton and members of the Oakland Ballet, who join Lori Belilove in two group dances.


The Elisabeth Duncan Line - searching of the Essence of Dancing over 100 years

Birgit Pittig

Practical Workshop/Class 

The sister of Isadora Duncan, Elisabeth, translated together with Isadora 'the observation of all movement in nature' into movements for the Duncan scholars. She created exercises to teach "the movements of clouds in the wind, the branches of a tree trembling in a storm, the flight of of a bird, leaves falling in the autumn…" To practise in this manner, a lithe body must be able to comprehend the melodies of creation and to express them. 

We will get to know this original body exercises from the beginning of the Duncan School in Berlin and will search for the beauty of simple movements like to stay and to walk in a uninhibited natural way to let the movement happen 'as if it could not have been any other way'. What is the essence of the technique to transform this awareness of body and mind into our present time and contemporary dancing?


Duncan: An early post-modern? 

Julia Pond

Practical Workshop/Class 

In this workshop, I will draw connections between Duncan technique and post-modern somatic work. Duncan technique is often misunderstood as merely improvisation (especially in the UK) or taught as closely related to early moderns like Duncan and Graham. In my own research and choreography, I believe there is a strong link with post-modern work which uses a physical point of initiation and relies on energy flow and a quality of sensing-into rather than muscling. I will also bring up the question that perhaps what the Duncan technique has to offer today is a bridge between this post-modern work and a human-centered, heartfelt expressiveness which has been rather out of fashion for the last 30 years or so. 

Inspiring the Young: Duncan's Influence in the School Setting

Laura Pravitz

Practical Workshop/Class 

For the past several years I have been creating Duncan-inspired moving stories for young children.  Begun as a project at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the stories found their way to a Reggio Emilia arts integrated public charter school.  Classes draw on the curricular frameworks to create moving stories that are “done into dance”.  This year I have worked with groups of K-1 students on themes of seasonal changes and adaptation.  Children explore the structure (body), and essence(or in Duncan’s parlance, the “will”) of that which is danced.  What is it to be the fawn waking up under the evergreen boughs, lifting long legs high to move through the deep snow?  Put to an enchanting piece of music, it is no longer pretend.  We are there in the woods.  We are the fawn, and mother is still asleep.  What will the day bring? I see my task as two-fold: To fulfill my role as movement educator while also sewing classes with a thread of magic, mystery, and suspended reality.  Duncan principles and motifs combine with Bartenieff Fundamentals, developmental movement patterns, and my lens as a Laban Movement Analyst to bring children more deeply into their bodies and their movement. Through film and discussion, I will share my methods and experiences in the schools and at the museum.  The role of the music and the power of performance will be addressed.  I will also speak about aspects of integrating within the school day and community.  Participants will be taken through an experience where Duncan’s philosophy draws forth the moving spirit, and we become that which we imagine.     


Présentation of the lineage Lisa Duncan, Madeleine Lytton et Odile Pyros

Francoise Rageau

Practical Workshop/Class 

Elisabeth Milker, who later became Lisa Duncan, was born in December 1898. She was not yet 6 years old when she entered the first school founded by Isadora Duncan in Grünewald (Germany). Since that time his whole life was devoted to dance. Lisa Duncan created her own dance school in Paris in the period between two wars, first to the Comédies des Champs-Elysées, then to the Palais (Avenue de Versailles) and finally settles rue des Sablons in a large studio with lodging. Madeleine Lytton (1921–2015) and Odile Pyros (1921–2012) are both students of Lisa Duncan, Madeleine from the age of six and Odile at the age of 11. They learned about the choreographic repertoire of Isadora and Lisa Duncan and, for a decade, participated in performances organized by Lisa Duncan in both France and abroad. In the 1950s, Madeleine Lytton and Odile Pyros also created their school to promote, transmit and develop the legacy of Isadora and Lisa Duncan. My presentation will focus on how Madeleine Lytton and Odile Pyros passed on to their students the legacy of Isadora Duncan, both in their own perception of this dance, their own exercises and in the repertory sent by Lisa Duncan.


Exploring the Architecture of Time through Isadora’s Choreography

Adrienne Ramm

Practical Workshop/Class 


Through learning excerpts from the three Scriabin etudes: The Mother, the Crossing, and the Revolutionary, we will explore the element of time and how it’s linked to the inherent experience of transformation within each dance. We will focus on movements from each dance which express Isadora’s relationship to time, and thus will allow participants to experience their own relationship to time - whether it be reflecting on the past, confronting obstacles in the present, or discovering the eternity of one single moment.  Each etude portrays time through a unique spatial pattern. In the Mother etude, the dancer moves along a diagonal and experiences time chronologically, from the past at upstage right, to the present when center stage, towards the future at downstage left. The Crossing travels along a straight horizontal plane where the dancer is stuck in a freezing of time, witnessing the trauma of one moment over and over, finally finding the inner power to move time forward. The Revolutionary moves directly straight forward from center stage, breaking free from all limitations, challenging destiny in the now. Each dance is supremely present with us in todays time. The intense emotional themes expressed in these etudes are timeless and ever more important in 2017 as they were in Isadora’s time. Through the architecture of the choreography of the three etudes, we will find the empowerment and freedom that always exists in the present moment to change destiny and break through any limitations of time.


Energy, Breath, and the Solar Plexus

Courtney Ramm, Adrienne Ramm, Eric Belair

Practical Workshop/Class


”Energy, Breath, and the Solar Plexus” is a response to the chaotic, disconnected world of today’s time. A merging of dance, live piano, and sound healing using the ancient gong and other sacred instruments create an experience of deep healing and inner alignment much needed for today’s dancer to express fully. In her time, Isadora discovered dance to be a pathway to the source and truth within, to connect to the eternal self. This workshop has these same goals in mind. Just as Isadora used music to awaken and stir the soul to it’s connection to source, Adrienne Ramm and Eric Belair will combine use of multiple instruments as well as their innate intuitive abilities through their immersion in dance to create a unique dance-sound “journey”. This journey will be an empowering and transformative experience. In 2017, the state of education and dance performance greatly differs from Isadora’s time. Just as Isadora responded to the realities of her time, including the limitations and confinements of dance, “Energy, Breath, and the Solar Plexus” provides a response to the challenges of our time, using Duncan’s timeless principles and technique with the addition of healing, resonating sounds to tune to the cells and enliven the soul. In the workshop, Courtney will guide participants through an hour-long movement class heavily steeped in Duncan technique (to Adrienne’s live music), followed by 30 minutes to lie and down and receive the deep healing resonances of Eric’s ancient instruments infused with Adrienne’s heartfelt melodies.


Theme and Variation: Keeping the Dances Alive

Cheryl Renner, Valerie Durham

Practical Workshop/Class 


There are no museums for dance. Today’s audience views historic dances as they are performed by a new generation of dancers. Duncan dances have been preserved by being handed down from teacher to student for four generations. A dynamic conflict exists between the need to preserve Isadora’s work for modern and future audiences, and a desire to adapt the dances to express the spirit of today’s dancer. Isadora said, “I shall not teach the children to imitate my movements, but to make their own. I shall help them to develop those movements which are natural to them.” (Art of the Dance, p. 61) Does this mean that Isadora did not want her dances preserved for future generations to see? The generations of Duncans who have passed the dances down might disagree. As today’s Duncan dancers and performers, we have a responsibility to remain aware of the origins of the dance, and also to the changes that may have been made to the dance. This workshop will explore two different versions of the dance "The Orientale". The first will be the choreography as it was handed down by Hortense Kooluris, a direct Duncan exponent. The second will be a variation created by a Duncan dancer. Participants will then have an opportunity to explore themes from both versions, and "making the dance their own" through improvisation. The workshop will conclude with a group variation on Isadora's "Classical Duet", as handed down by Madeleine Lytton.


Returning to Motion: A Pedagogic Guide to Inspiring Creativity

Elyssa Dru Rosenberg

Practical Workshop/Class 

Children aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen – at school, at home, in the car – everywhere. In this age of stillness coupled with lack of creative thinking and lack of human interaction, Isadora Duncan’s teachings and choreography give voice and methodology to a form of education that is too often neglected. Even in the dance studio, children are taught to move, but not regularly given the opportunity to express themselves physically, to solve open-ended problems, and to work together with others. As dance classes become more competitive and focused on performance and product rather than process, dance educators are often neglecting a valuable element of dance education.  This workshop will model and explain the regular Isadora Duncan Dance classes taught by Elyssa Dru Rosenberg at Performing Arts Workshop in Encinitas, CA, to students aged eight to 11. In these classes, students are taught Isadora Duncan’s technique and pieces of her choreography; then half the class is devoted to using Isadora’s work as inspiration to guide students as they create their own expressive choreography, work in small groups to create movement phrases, or spontaneously improvise with direction. During the workshop, Symposium attendees will experience an abbreviated version of the class. Attendees will also receive sample lesson plans to use with their own students and see a brief video of the work Rosenberg’s students create. 


Duncan Dance Technique and Concepts with Mary Sano

Mary Sano

Practical Workshop/Class


This workshop/class will introduce the basic teaching methods of Mary Sano, a third generation Duncan Dancer. Originally from Japan, she has dedicated the last thirty-five years of her life to the Duncan tradition, and to the discovery and realization of the true nature of this work. She has also infused her roots in Japanese culture and art forms into her work, and believes the most important thing for the dancer to attain is “muga no kyochi” a spiritual state of perfect selflessness. Sano’s class will focus on the release of tension in the body and mind while creating an awareness of one’s connection with their surroundings/environment. She also emphasizes the importance of musicality, as the pieces Isadora choreographed to are full of beautiful harmony and rhythms. We will listen to and study these compositions along with the choreography, as music is the essence of Isadora’s work and continually guides our movement. Sano’s concept of “Dancing Harmony,” centering on simplicity, sincerity, natural beauty, and a perfectly balanced body and spirit, is inspired by Isadora's essays on dance. During the workshop we will read some of Isadora's words about nature and art, as we feel that these views are as valuable as ever today.  This workshop is for dancers of any level or discipline, and can be enjoyed by non-dancers alike. Sano believes Duncan dance offers a strong grounding base for all artists including musicians and visual artists. Sano’s approach naturally brings out individual expression and brings Isadora’s dance to life in an authentic way.


Lecture/demonstration on Zen Prelude by Chopin

Mary Sano, Eriko Tokaji

Research Paper/Lecture 


This lecture/demonstration is by Duncan dancer Mary Sano and classical pianist Eriko Tokaji. They have been working together over the last 20 years in Tokyo and Tokaji has accompanied Sano at numerous dance recitals in Tokyo, Gifu, and in Paris. First, Sano will demonstrate and discuss her version (passed down by Mignon Garland) of Zen Prelude by Frederic Chopin (Op.28 no.7), then Tokaji will analyze the piece from the view of  a pianist. Sano has learned this version from her mentor Ms. Garland, who was instructed by Anna Duncan. There is a different version of this dance, mostly known by counterparts in New York, whose version Sano thinks was likely passed down by Irma or Theresa Duncan. Sano believes that this dance, while being very simple, is also very deep and philosophical in nature, and would cherish the opportunity to share and exchange different visions of the work. These differences may be difficult for beginning students to understand, but for intermediate to advance students, this kind of learning enriches the experience and leads them to a deeper understanding of choreography and concepts. Tokaji has written a thesis entitled “The Incorporation of Duncan Dance Technique into Modern Piano Education: Isadora Duncan Dance as Mousike” (2014) in which she explains that “Musical expression is tightly connected with physical sensations of humans from the first. For example, harmony progression in music is relevant to various human behaviors like tension and relief. When we grasp the meaning of the Dance (Zen prelude) from the perspective of Music Analysis, this dance is certainly capturing the real nature of music.” For this lecture, she looks forward to playing and analyzing this piece, and commenting on the attraction of the piece while Ms. Sano demonstrates the dance.


Mary Sano and her Duncan Dancers rehearse with live pianist

Mary Sano, Eriko Tokaji

Open rehearsal/demonstration

This is an open rehearsal/demonstration by Mary Sano and her Duncan Dancers followed by some questions and answers. This group has been dancing under the direction of Sano for the last several years and we will show how we work together with a pianist. They have been rehearsing for their upcoming performance “20: Reflections on the Past, Visions of the Future” (working title) for the 20th anniversary of the Mary Sano Studio of Duncan Dancing in San Francisco.  While 2017 marks twenty years of achievement at the Mary Sano Studio, it is also the 140th anniversary of Isadora’s birth, and the 90th anniversary of her death in 1927. Her art and her influence; so deeply treasured by the few, often forgotten by many, feel as though it has come to an important crossroads. How do we carry this tradition forward? How do we ensure that this timeless emotion and esthetic remain relevant within the context of an increasingly complex, even cluttered artistic landscape? We feel that it is vital that we continue to keep the Duncan tradition fresh and relevant with new interpretations of her choreography and also creating new work based on her esthetic. For this workshop, Sano will focus on rehearsing new repertoire “Valse Brillante” by Chopin with accompanist Eriko Tokaji from Japan. Although Sano has been working with Tokaji since the 1990’s, and we plan to demonstrate how we work with a pianist and deepen our performance repertoire.  


Rolling Waves: The Undulating Bridge Between Duncan Technique and Tribal Fusion Belly Dance

Elaine Santos

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 


I created two dances (both under 3 minutes) that use the movement vocabularies and philosophies of Duncan technique and of Tribal Fusion Belly Dance (TFBD) technique. My choreography is inspired by nature, specifically the moon, the change of seasons, rituals, and Greek myths. 

Belly Dance might bring up images of belly-baring costumes, shimmies, and the sounds of drums and finger cymbals but I have discovered in studying these two seemingly different dance practices wonderful overlaps, complements, and creative surprises.  What I find interesting about these two dance forms are: they are inspired by ancient cultures’ art, costuming, and movement; they honor music; and they were both created in the SF Bay Area. TFBD was created by a lineage of dancers beginning in the 1960’s.  TFBD is an individualistic dance form that allows any music and incorporation of other forms of dance to create choreography. The technique is grounded belly dance movement that is often muscle-initiated and emphasizes isolating muscle groups and layering movement. I am experimenting with fusion choreography to bridge Isadora’s still relevant dance philosophy and movement to TFBD’s innovative practice.  Undulation and waves are an important philosophy and repeating movement pattern in Duncan’s work.  TFBD also uses undulation and figure eight movement patterns in vertical and horizontal directions.  At times, I contrast the techniques and at other times my dances explore the movement of both techniques by highlighting the seamless flow of one into another.



Elizabeth Schwartz

Video  screening 

Elisabeth Schwartz will screen Jaillisssements, a film by director Raoul Sangla from 1990 which evokes Isadora Duncan, the barefoot dancer, in a game of correspondence between dance and Rodin's work. In long panels, the camera captures the successive solos of the dancer who sometimes encounters video monitors integrated into the decor. They show images of the "Gate of Hell" and other works of the sculptor. The frame is wide, at a distance from the body, and allows us to view the gigantic painted backdrop that dramatizes the choreography and emphasizes its lyricism in an abstract way. Elisabeth Schwartz has reconstructed selected solos by Isadora Duncan which she mixes with her very personal compositions including a final duet with the dancer and choreographer Dominique Petit.


Water Study

Jennifer Sprowl, Ingrid Becker, Hannah Brooks-Motl

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 


“Water Study” is recognized as an early Duncan dance, set to Schubert’s Waltz D. 924, No. 12. The dance develops dynamically, drawing on wave motifs and repetitions. It is a rare Duncan dance without a “story” or even an especially human presence or character—the dancer is cast as water, and the dance itself might be seen as the dancer’s becoming of water. “Water Study” thus bridges the natural world of elements and weather with the human body, itself composed of matter, made of water, and susceptible to currents of all kinds. This version of “Water Study” has been restaged by fourth generation Duncan dancer and Duncan Dance Chicago Artistic Director Jennifer Sprowl. Set for and with her students, the dance emerged as a collaborative effort, drawing on Sprowl’s deep knowledge and expertise in choreographing for a variety of body types and skill levels, as well as the friendship and intimacy that develops between students and teacher. This “Water Study” could then be considered a bridge between generations of Duncan dancers. And so it presents an opportunity for us to discuss questions such as: what are the risks and rewards of restaging Duncan repertory? This ‚“Water Study” is staged as a duet, not a solo—how do we think about scale as we restage Duncan choreography? What does collaborative choreography look like, or what are processes of choreographing people have found successful and why? Finally, as fifth and sixth generation Duncan dancers come of age, how do we continue to bridge generations, passing along not just knowledge of technique and rep, but joy and connection with Isadora’s legacy?


Isadora Bahia

Fatima Suarez, Rachel Neves, Cristiane Pinho, Cristina Tocchetto, Estela Serrano, Helena Mathias, Leila Gomes 

Informal Showing of Works-In-Progress, Repertory, New Choreography, with Discussion 

In this presentation Fatima Suarez will show how she uses Isadora Duncan repertory to inspire new choreographies influenced by Brazilian dances. The presentation will explain how the choreographies were composed by showing the repertory inspiration, the Brazilian theme, and the final choreography. This proposal was created in order to contribute with the theme of the Duncan Symposium in this edition . "Resurgence: Bridging Time and Techniques." Isadora Lives…in Bahia was forged during Ms. Suarez experience as a Duncan teacher in the last 25 years at the Escola Contemporänea de Dança an institution devoted to the global vision linking movement, nature, education, and artistic practice as Isadora Duncan. 

Four dances will be analyzed in the presentation: 

XAXADO (2011) Music: Tom Zé 

The steps of Isadora Duncan’s “Champagne” and a popular dance from the Northeast of Brazil, the Xaxado. 

PARABOLICAMARÁ (2012) Music: Gilberto Gil 

The Afoxé music and the movements of the ocean built this dance, having the “Water Study” as inspiration. 

LORINDINHO (2015) Music: Armando Macêdo 

Isadora Duncan’s “Scherzzo” movements danced in a Bahiana Guitar, having the carnival as inspiration. 

TXITXI (2016) Music: Marlui Miranda 

A lullaby from the Juruna/Yudjá Brazilian first natives tribe and the Isadora Duncan’s “Air Gae” are together is this rhythmical dance. 

My intention at the end of the presentation is to prove that the most important legacy of Isadora Duncan was the new technique she create for the body and if we update that technique will be possible create a continuous interest on our dance work.


Duncan Technique for the 21st Century Dancer

Loretta  Thomas

Practical Workshop/Class 

Isadora Duncan’s ideas at the turn of the 20th century revolutionized dance and cultural morays.  Through sharing her innovative dance form, we hope to realize Duncan’s dream of creating “the dancer of the future”. After many years of studying, teaching and performing the Duncan work, Loretta Thomas has established a unique approach to presenting  Duncan technique to dancers in the 21st century. Combining this classic modern dance with current knowledge of the body, offers a foundation, which enhances and deepens the dancer’s understanding of movement. Duncan created the original release technique, using breath to articulate the expansion and release of the body, thus giving virtuosic flow of energy from the center.  The natural alignment and use of the body lead dancers to discover a healthier approach to technique and can lengthen the dancing life. The embrace of using gravity in movement creates a fully weighted and dynamic approach to locomotion.  Releasing into gravity and pushing against space, enhance elevation and expression as well as the mobility and health of the joints.  This innovation was ahead of its time, especially for the female dancer, yet it informs modern dance techniques to this day. Stability of the hips allows for greater freedom in the extremities. This is essential for the Duncan vocabulary, with the upper body often moving in opposition to the lower. The solid placement of the hips and moving from the center, allows the body to function in a more relaxed and healthy fashion thus can be beneficial in all forms of dance. These elements and the challenging repertoire make this a wonderful tool for today’s students. The mission of Loretta Thomas is to share this wonderful technique with all its joys and benefits with a new generation of dancers.  Offering “The highest intelligence in the freest body.”


Bridging the Gap: Rethinking the Duncan Generations as a Network

Laura Tipton

Research Paper/Lecture 


The network of Duncan dancers has long been thought of in terms of a lineage, founded by Isadora herself. We count the number of individuals between ourselves and our founder and call it our generation. Yet, as people no longer live in a single city for their entire lives, this model has become outdated. Contemporary Duncan dancers list as many as eight teachers in the Isadora Duncan Archive Dancer Directory (IDADD). Additionally, events like the Isadora Duncan International Symposium (IDIS) bring together current Duncan dancers of many lineages and enable learning across generations. Using self-reported data from the IDADD and attendance lists from IDISs, I have analyzed the network of Duncan dancers as both a directed lineage and as a bi-directional general network. In the lineage network, dancers are organized by generations and learn only from their direct teachers. Conversely, in the bi-directional network, students and teachers learn from each other and all dancers can spread information by attending conferences. I used standard network analysis metrics to evaluate each network for its ability to disseminate old and new knowledge and to survive the loss of dancers. The bi-directional network outperforms the lineage network on both counts. These results have implications for how we consider our place in the history of Duncan dance, and highlight the importance of conferences such as the IDIS. Thus, it is time we bridge the gap between our lineages and begin to consider ourselves a network of practitioners, rather than members of specific generations or cohorts. 


Isadora Duncan and the Art of Immersive Theater

Cynthia Word, Ingrid Zimmer

Practical Workshop/Class 

In this workshop Cynthia Word and Ingrid Zimmer of Word Dance Theater will share their pioneering methods for creating site specific, multi-disciplinary, immersive, dance/theater productions inspired by the technique, choreography and philosophy of Isadora Duncan.  We will begin the session with participants performing short, traditional Duncan choreography within specific architectural locations at the workshop site.  Next Word and Zimmer will present, using lecture, power-point, video, the Word Dance Theater process of integrating architecture, dance, theater, music, and visual art into a seamless production.   Participants will then repeat the initial movement experience but incorporating techniques explored in the workshop.  We will end with open discussion of questions that emerged from the workshop. 


Duncan as the original modern dance technique

Elizabeth Disharoon Wright

Practical Workshop/Class 


This class will approach Duncan as an integral part of the canon of classical and modern dance techniques.   Today's professional dancers are trained in a wide variety of styles but rarely have any exposure to Duncan dance.  Why?  Because it is rarely taught in their language.  This class will apply Duncan movement philosophy to vocabulary that is familiar to trained dancers, and will emphasize linkages with more recent modern choreographers including Martha Graham, Jose Limon and Jennifer Muller.  These choreographers all initiated movement from the center and spent a great deal of time mobilizing the torso; this class will explore the commonalities in many of their exercises.  The class will include floor work, standing barre, traveling barre, and a bit of phrase work if time permits.  Placing Duncan within the context of other dance techniques, with a familiar vocabulary and a high level of technical rigor, enables a wider range of dance studios and schools to embrace Duncan technique within their established curriculum.  It opens the door for advanced dancers to experience her art and incorporate her ideas into their own work, whether directly or indirectly.  This is one more way to ensure that Isadora’s legacy will be carried forward on the stage for many years to come.  


Love Your Body - Love Your Life

Julie Wylie

Practical Workshop/Class 

“All that is necessary to make this world a better place to live in is to love…” -- Isadora Duncan

35 years ago, San Fransisco lay fertile soil for Debbie Rosas & Carlos Aya-Rosas to embarked on a movement education journey seeking, health, fitness & well-being. Compelled by the alarming injury rate in the high-impact fitness industry they spent years studying & weaving together dance choreography, martial arts movements and mindfulness techniques to create Nia. One fateful day a master teacher from the Duncan Dance lineage, attended their class changing forever the chemistry of this practice. In Debbie’s words, “O’Eloel Braun was 80 years old when she came to our class – and she moved like the wind. O’Eloel’s movement and spirit helped us see what Duncan Dance could bring to Nia: LEVITY.” Like the long tail of a comet, O’Eloel’s choice to attend class that day had a profound influence on Nia’s development. Nia is now practiced in over 40 countries and further fueling this resurgence, Nia teachers world-wide are encouraged to take classes from Duncan Dance teachers that they may understand this technique purely. Nia puts joy back into fitness! Experience the sensation. Practiced barefoot, this technique is suitable for people of all ages, levels of fitness and movement skills. Join Julie Wylie for an introduction to this revolutionary fitness approach: Nia. “The Nia Technique is physically very sensitive, articulate, and all inclusive and would not be the same without its foundation of meticulously prepared bare feet.” – O’Eloel Braun Third generation

Duncan Dancer and Teacher


The unknown pages of Isadora Duncan Moscow school (1921-1949)

Elena Yushkova

Research Paper/Lecture 

The most controversial period of Duncan’s works has not been analyzed thoroughly even in Russia. Due to ideological reasons, Isadora and her school were completely excluded from the Soviet culture. Another obstacle for understanding has always been the Russian poet Sergey Esenin, whose wife Isadora was, and whose poetry is too dear to Russian people. The British scholar Gordon McVay gathered many unique materials, included in his famous book Isadora and Esenin (1980), and later, in 2005, in a collection of materials, devoted to the Moscow school and its former students, published in Russian. Nevertheless, there are still many lacunas in these studies, both for Russian and English-speaking audiences. There is a brilliant biography of Isadora Duncan by Peter Kurth, but he also does not pretend to cover the complexity of school’s work in Soviet Russia and USSR. Of course, there are memoirs written by Irma Duncan and former students in English, but they represent only their own reminiscences and, in the case of Irma, many important facts are omitted intentionally. The presentation will be devoted to unpublished materials found recently at the Moscow archive, which include correspondence between the leader of the school Irma Duncan who was touring the USA with students in 1929, and Anatoly Lunacharsky, the People’s Commissar of Enlightenment.