Achilles Neis


Achilles Neis, Greek journalist and poet.

Text and poeme published in an Athenian newspaper and in the program of her performance in 1903 in Athens.





- What she aims to do.


- How she was inspired by Greek dances.


- The ancient statues and the dancer.




  Nobody could have hoped for the surprise that lay in wait for us with the arrival of the Honart family from California, about which we wrote those cheerful lines yesterday. The Honarts were the swallows, the harbingers of an artistic spring. They heralded the arrival of a great high priestess of Greek art, the famous Miss Isadora Duncan, who is not unknown to readers of our newspaper. During the last two months we have learnt in these columns about this magic force of Greek dances, who came to Europe from America, winning admiration and triumphs.


  Yesterday morning she came to Athens and was united with her other compatriots, who Athenians have seen barefoot on the streets. And yesterday morning promptly we had the good fortune to be received by the famous artiste at the Hotel England, where she is staying. Miss Duncan was dressed in the ancient Greek way, white and, to today's descendants of the ancient City, eccentric, with bare calves and ankles.


  Tall, with a shapely and somehow athletic body from the noble training of the ancient dances, with Greek hairstyle in the style of Cleo, and wearing old-style sandals, as was her brother, who accompanied her. And although the features of her dark face were clearly American, her statuesque body and her bearing reminded one of the Caryatids and the Tanagra statuettes, and the charming and studied dancing poses in her photographs, of our ancient sculptures.


  Miss Duncan has been travelling continuously for seven years now, and with her brother and sister came to the greatest European capitals in order to teach the ancient Greek dances, which she has studied so deeply from the statues, the carvings and the other painted compositions and representations that are preserved on the ancient vases, and the secrets of which her artistic spirit has so wonderfully perceived and her shapely and statuesque body has so exquisitely rendered.


  Miss Duncan was recently in Berlin where she met the son of the great Wagner, and he invited her to go over to Bayreuth to dance his father's Parsifal as it meant to her, as she imagined it and as she wished. Wherever she went this Sylphide of Greek dances charmed people, filled them with wonder and enthusiasm and restored the worship of the eternal Greek artists and the dreamlike enjoyment of ancient Greek life.


  We said above that for seven whole years this gentle apostle of ancient Greek life and of the immortal Greek spirit has been travelling, and for seven whole years she has dreamed of stepping, as she told us, on the holy soil of the great homeland of the gods and demigods, to give here too some samples of her worship of art, of her studies and of her labours.


  During the unforgettable moments of her musical conversation, these lines came into our minds and reached our lips to say to her:


  You bestow favours wherever you pass, like a Homeric spirit


  And from holy Elysium where the years are enthroned


  You arrive like the swift-winged song of the swallow


  Bringing back our joy and making us grow young again.


  Her impressions


  Afterwards we asked her how she found modern Athens:


  "Of course, Miss Duncan, the history and your studies will have led you to expect greater things."


  "Oh, it is so lovely to live here," she told us, "and what good fortune for anyone to be born a Greek! And this," she added with emphasis, "an American woman is telling you!"


  "And how do you feel about the impression you are making with these beautiful, but to us today, very strange clothes?


  "Yes! Yes," she answered us, laughing like a child. "When I came out this morning, they were surprised to see me, they stood and looked at me, they followed me. But I am staying here for three months, and they will get used to me."


  How she wanted to become a dancer


  "And how, Miss Duncan, if I may ask, did this idea of the ancient Greek dances come to you?"


  "Ever since I was a child I have loved, indeed adored, dances in general, but as I later studied and came to understand the great importance and the great artistry of the ancient Greek dances, I came to detest today's silly dances more and more, and dared to dream of restoring the ancient dances to their old exalted position and to their ancient great and sacred purpose."          


  "We wholeheartedly and gratefully pray that you may succeed."


  Study in the museums


  And she asked us about the museums, where she wished to examine and study the poses, the style and the composition of the sculptures.


  "I shall study," she told us, "as well as I can, the social community too, and your newest schools, and your life in general; I shall see the beautiful statues and I will get new creative designs for my dances."


  And then after she had very kindly given us two of her most recent photographs, of a statue of herself by the eminent sculptor Scott, this ancient Greek from the New World shook our hands.