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Practitioners / Ms. Andrea Mantell-Seidel




Ms. Andrea Mantell-Seidel





Isadora Duncan in the 21st Century
Capturing the Art and Spirit of the Dancer’s LegacyAndrea Mantell Seidel 
Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-7795-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-2369-6
notes, bibliography, index
softcover (6 x 9) 2015


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Price: $40.00


Not Yet Published, Available Spring/Summer 2016

About the Book
Part artistic study, part intimate memoir, this book illuminates the technique and repertory of American dancer Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) and her enduring legacy from the perspective of an artist and scholar who has reconstructed and performed her work for 35 years. Providing an overview of modern activities and trends in the teaching and performance of Duncan’s dance, the author describes her own work directing The Isadora Duncan Dance Ensemble, the company that sought to implement Duncan’s mission to create not a school of dance but “a school of life.” The Isadora Duncan legacy is discussed as a tool for fostering self-integration and humanistic ideals.


About the Author(s)
Andrea Mantell Seidel is a professor emeritus of dance, associate professor of religious studies and former founding director of the Intercultural Dance and Music Institute of the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University. She lives in Miami. 

"Thirty-five years of learning, teaching, performing, and staging Duncan’s repertoire impel this lucid, luminous rendering of the inner, emotional work required to animate Duncan’s dances, and the inner workings of a dance company dedicated to doing so. In a seamless narrative, Seidel weaves accounts of Duncan’s life, philosophy, and art through relevant dance scholarship and Seidel’s own dance experiences to offer a heart-felt tribute to Duncan, an inspiring gift to fellow Duncan followers, and a compelling invitation to Duncan dancers of the future."--Kimerer L. LaMothe, author of Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming and Nietzsche’s Dancers: Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and the Revaluation of Christian Values.

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Dr. Andrea Mantell Seidel

Professor Emeritus, Dance

Associate Professor, Religious Studies

Florida International University

Miami, FL 33143

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Practitioners / Ms. Ligoa Duncan




 Ms. Ligoa Duncan





Ligoa Duncan was the daughter of Raymond Duncan, brother of Isadora Duncan. She was a singer and occupational therapist. Doree Duncan Seligmann is co-author of Life into Art: Isadora Duncan and her World.





Obituary to Ligoa Duncan

Ligoa died Monday October 19, 2015 her hands held tightly by me and Michel. 
She had welcomed the sun's rise 36,054 times. 

It was bewildering to us that her age would play a factor in her health.  Even on that day we both expected - quite unsurprisingly given how strong and willful she was - that she would be able to sit up and ask what all the commotion was about and sing us a song.  

Ligoa did not want to leave the life lived so fully - living always in the moment with great energy and optimism. She loved and was loved; her beauty afforded her great allowances and she was full of mischief and fun. Her eccentricities were often resourceful ways to overcome difficulties. Evidenced by the many lives she touched - as self-appointed doctor, matchmaker, advisor -- she would encourage many to pursue artistic expression, break rules, abandon convention, but mostly lead rich lives.  An artist in her own right - in several fields - she crossed paths and worked with the artists of the times, singing, weaving, ceramics, photography, and more.

Her advise to all when life seemed difficult: raise your arms in the air, wave them, and sing.

Doree Duncan Seligmann





Gerasimos Vokos


Gerassimos Vokos (1868-1927), Greek journalist and painter, editor of the Athenian magazine "Kalllitechnis" (Artist).


Vokos, Gerassimos: "Miss Isidora (sic) Duncan dances...", Kallitechnis, 3/25. Athens, 04/1912.



Miss Isadora Duncan dances…


  I remember that it was seven years ago when I first saw Miss Duncan in Athens. Wearing long dark-red robes in the ancient style, bare-headed, her hair tied with a blue ribbon, her bare feet in light sandals, she entered the Eleftheroudakis bookshop and asked for books on archaeology.

  It was the first time she had been in Athens. Her enthusiasm on seeing the place where her art - or rather her life's ideals, since I believe Miss Duncan wants her art to be a life in tune with nature, not just art - had reached its greatest possible expression - the enthusiasm of this lovely woman with the cool pink flesh and the liquid eyes had warmed and further embellished her outward appearance.

  She was accompanied by a stout lady, her mother, a picture of mortality, symbolic of this world, in contrast to her unexpected creation of the creature who seemed a vision of the ancient times and hope for a better life in the future, and her brother, the well-known to us Mr Duncan, dressed like a goatherd in one of Theocritus' idylls.


   After so many years without having seen any of the performances that she had given here in Athens, following her triumphs abroad, in Europe and America, but also the contradictions that her art provoked, I had the good fortune to meet her in Kifissia at the meal which the Greek Dramatic Writers' Guild gave in honour of Mr Richepin, the French academician.

  At this meal Miss Duncan attended wearing a long dress of lightest Indian silk, which fell towards her feet in many little folds. She was slimmer now than when I first met her, and although the many years and the hard work and emotions might have much changed this cool face, they did not seem to have done so. The dancer was cheerful, smiling, full of joy, a vision of beauty in the assembly of her table companions. In generous return for the simple compliment of her invitation, she gave a tinge of antique grandeur to the symposium, by being eager to grace it with her dancing.

  For a moment we lost her, but when we came out into the garden, she appeared under the trees towards the back, like an Amadryad starting to be intoxicated by Pan, or brought to ecstasy by Apollo.


  They had spread a green carpet there, and to one side a piano had appeared. A tall handsome young man, the Scottish musician Mr Skene, was already sitting at the piano. One might perhaps have wished to imagine things a little differently, with an appropriate orchestra of ancient pipes and harps. But there was already a contrast in everything there, in our gathering and the setting, so it could hardly be different for the musical accompaniment.

  The space beyond, where that beautiful body was already lightly moving, ready to break out into the joy, the intoxication and the passion of dance, within the little grove, with Mount Penteli in the background, under the deep blue sky - all this scenery made us forget, and to see nothing else but the vision of a picture of ancient Greek life.


  Mr Skene started to play Schubert's waltzes, full of passion, and Miss Duncan gave her interpretation of the music, obviously trying to bring out its innermost essence. I do not know what we should have expected with regard to the particular dance, which Miss Duncan transformed in her own dancing, nor yet if the personal interpretation of classical music by means of dance movements is possible - of course, the music should have been written for such dancing - but Miss Duncan's dance as such is in every respect something new and beautiful. Postures, movements, facial expressions portray all the human emotions, which dance arouses.

  The beauty of the dancer, the individual expression of her soul in a harmony of repeated movements pulsating with the joy of life, integrating with nature, the light liftings of her body, trying to escape, to evaporate, to skip away, a sweet breath of delight, the liquid look towards the sky, as if searching for absolute beauty, something again that has been left to wander carefree above the meadow, like a butterfly, and then the power, the impetus, the anguish to achieve a dream - mime here supplements the graphic turns of the dancing - all these things attract the unflagging interest of the spectator, his enthusiasm too, transporting him to other times, bringing to life in him visions of this divine art.


  Miss Duncan danced before us for one hour, to the accompaniment of Brahms and Gluck, rendered with much spirit by Mr Skene. One hour, and she could perhaps have danced for another, had there been time.


  There was no sign of fatigue on this delicate body, bathed in rosy colours. Her last dance was a French pantomime, which evidently meant to show the attracting of the male to the female for love. She set as her hero Mr Richepin opposite her, making sinuous movements with an erotic intoxication that perhaps only she could express.

  She advanced seductively on small steps, swayed her body forwards, backwards, sideways, then arrived forcefully and again she broke away retreating, only to return after a while, until she found it was the highest moment, and then she fell on her knees, holding her beautiful hands out towards the poet, who rewarded her art with a kiss on them.


  The final impression from the dream was even more impressive. With an endurance that recognised no fatigue, she invited Mr and Mrs Richepin to accompany her to the Acropolis. The priestess wanted to return to the place of her greatest inspirations…




John Butler Yeats


John Butler Yeats (1839-1922), Irish painter


Excerpt from a letter to his son, the poet William Butler Yeats, written in 1908 from New York. Published in Steegmuller, Francis: Your Isadora. The love story of Isadora Duncan & Gordon Craig. New York, MacMillan, 1974.



  "I first met her in a restaurant and at once understood her to be the oddest and most unexpected person in the world. She forms her own plans and is quite indifferent to what people think or say, for that reason she is never aggressive just as she makes no effort to conciliate any one.

  I met her twice in private and since that I saw her (from her own box) dancing in the biggest theatre, and on the biggest stage in N. York - a figure dancing all alone on this immense stage - and there again you felt the charm of the self-contained woman.

  Several people said: Is it not like watching a kitten playing for itself? We watched her as if we were each of us hidden in ambush. I don't wonder that at first New York rejected her - she stood still, she lay down, she walked about, she danced, she leaped, she disappeared, and re-appeared - all in curious sympathy with a great piece of classical music, and I did not sometimes know which I most enjoyed, her or the music.

  America's great sculptor was in the box and led the appreciation."




Ninette de Valois


Dame Ninette de Valois (1898-2001), Irish dancer and choreographer, born Edris Stannus.


Excerpt from Valois, Ninette de: "The flames of freedom. Dame Ninette de Valois assesses the legacy of Isadora Duncan, who is the subject of a new play in London", The Sunday Telegraph. London, 28/07/1991.


  What Duncan did not do was alter the classical technique, and those people who tried to claim that she did were talking nonsense. Isadora Duncan had no technique to pass on, no school as such; it was simply an approach. Where the classical style is a very careful development of foot technique, she did almost nothing with her feet, and she had neither a technical nor an academic system to pass on. What she did was to set free the upper body.


  She was a rebel - perhaps that was her Irish blood – and she objected strongly to the unnaturalness of the classical school of those days. But the beauty of the classical technique is that it is infinitely adaptable: you could put the classical school together with the Duncan approach and one enriched the other.


  Western European classical technique tends to be stronger from the waist down; the further east you go, the more they dance from the waist up. A great classical company’s character springs from its national dances. Little changes that you observe in the performances by different companies are entirely consistent with their country’s folk roots.

  English classical dancers, for instance, are at their best in quick work – we are famous worldwide for our good feet. And look at our national dances: we dance from the waist down. Duncan’s whole-body freedom sprung from Greece, which lies between west and east, and is neither one nor the other, but borrows from both.





Thursday the 25th. . Isadora Duncan Pundect
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