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Articles / Anonymous Greek journalist
 
 
 
Anonymous
Miss Duncan's performance at the Municipal Theatre
Athens
Translated from the Greek by Christopher Copeman.
Published in Raftis, Alkis: Isadora Duncan and the
artists (in Greek with English supplement).
Athens, Way of Life Publications & Dora Stratou Theater, 2002, 222 p.
 
 
Miss Duncan's performance at the Municipal Theatre
- Ancient dances in Europe
- The interest of two Emperors
- The fulfilment of a dream
 
     A variety of bill-posted programmes are advertising the well-known American Miss Isadora Duncan's only performance at the Municipal Theatre. The few remaining seats are being taken by those latecomers who somehow want to satisfy their curiosity about a show that is admittedly unprecedented in Athens.
The young American is still enchanted with Greece and is deeply moved, she told us, to be dancing on stage in the country that she has dreamed of from afar.
 
- The first lessons
     In Athens almost everyone has seen this strange young woman wanting to be the first to bring back the ancient dress. But who she is, from whence she has rushed into her daring aims, and what she really wants, the Athenians, who this evening will be enthusiastic to applaud her at the Municipal Theatre, have still to learn. This information, by a strange coincidence, has been given to us in the American newspapers that arrived yesterday, containing detailed descriptions of the European triumphs of Miss Isadora Duncan, who has become famous. A Californian girl, coming from San Francisco, she studied dance from an early age with some of the distinguished dance teachers in her country, and from there she moved to New York, where she taught contemporary dances to her pupils.
 
     In search of wider horizons, she left for Paris, where she continued to give dancing lessons. She did not earn much, however, until one day, by chance, her career was entirely changed.
 
- Miss Duncan the heroine
     One day in the hotel "Windsor", where she was teaching dance to quite a large group of her pupils, a fire broke out. Unfortunately Miss Duncan was on one of the top floors, and the fire spread unhindered upwards. Confronting the danger she seized three of the youngest of her pupils in her arms and rushed first through the middle of the flames towards the exit, while the others, encouraged by her example, followed her.
 
     Fortunately, the three little girls she saved belonged to the most wealthy families and the heroine Duncan received a substantial allowance.
 
     Released from financial difficulties, Miss Isadora walked towards the realisation of her great ideal. Prince De Polignac proposed to build a special theatre for her the moment she was invited to England. This was the start of her tour through Europe. But Miss Duncan began to look for ancient rhythms, and she dressed in the ancient apparel, which went so beautifully with the lines of her face. From then on she never abandoned it.
 
Her crowned admirer 
     The first time she went to Berlin they were filled with enthusiasm. The artist Kaiser Wilhelm was so enchanted that he suggested that she should stay permanently in Berlin with the promise to build an ancient-style theatre for her. But the young American girl slipped away, wanting to find glory elsewhere. She went to Vienna, where she so enchanted the elderly Emperor Franz Joseph that afterwards, with many gifts, he invited her to stay there permanently, to become a dancer at his court. But Miss Duncan again left to go to Munich, where during her studies there at the school of sculpture she won admiration and created a stir in the world of young artists. Her dream however was to come to Athens. And she achieved it.
 
How she herself explains her dances
     The Chopin Evening that Miss Duncan is giving this evening will be her only performance in Athens, to which at the same time she is saying farewell,  intending to leave immediately for Berlin, where throughout the winter she is going to give a series of performances with ancient Greek dances.
 
     Many people, however, wonder what is meant by the phrase "Chopin Evening", and her preference for this composer rather than others. Miss Duncan herself comes to resolve these doubts, and yesterday explained her reasons to one of our reporters as follows: "Each one of my movements is due to the faithful and living representation of the dancing practices that I see and study on the various ancient vases. The movements, however, are guided by rhythm and melody. The rhythms of the ancient dances have been discovered, but the compositions still remain unknown, since the musical key is itself at present unknown. So I had to find contemporary music, which may not exactly resemble the ancient rhythms, but is at least similar to them. And I tried thousands of compositions, of which the works of Chopin coincided strangely with what I wanted. The rhythms that are used are generally like the ancient rhythms that have been discovered, and the melody of their compositions truly inspires a better representation of the ancient dances. Thus Chopin's composition of the Grande Polonaise was inspired by the war chants of his country, and by this again I myself was inspired to render faithfully their dance suitable as an expression of love towards country and freedom. Chopin's Mazurka is nothing else but the dance of the young women of Poland. And yet its rhythm and its music inspire me to dance the dance of Nausicaa and her maids by the banks of the river in the land of the Phaeacians.
 
     In general all of the music by Chopin that I have chosen faithfully conveys in sounds what I myself try to convey in postures and movements. The ancient dancing of Greece, the liveliness pictured on the picturesque statues and the ornate representations on the preserved vases, are the system on which I base my dances today. But Chopin's music, as if it was indeed composed to accompany dancers in performances during those happy years, is the only music which can facilitate my dances for me, and really transport me into this beautiful era, the era full of charm of which only one glimpse I am trying to show.
 
     Thus Miss Duncan explained her ancient dances and her preference for Chopin. The day after tomorrow she is leaving for Berlin, where they have been waiting for her for some time. But Athens will see her again once more next April when she will herself come down to Greece to supervise the building of her School, of which she laid the foundation stone the day before yesterday at the foot of Mount Hymettos.
 
Anonymous: "Miss Duncan's performance at the Municipal Theatre". Athens
Translated from the Greek by Christopher Copeman
Published in Raftis, Alkis: Isadora Duncan and the artists (in Greek with English supplement).
Athens, Way of Life Publications & Dora Stratou Theater, 2002, 222 p.
 
 

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