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Maurice Dumesnil

 Maurice Dumesnil (1886-1974), French pianist who accompanied Isadora in her tour in South America.

From his book An amazing journey, Isadora Duncan in South America. London, Jarrolds, 1933.  



   In the meanwhile, things were going well for the coming Sunday, when the Trocadero was once more replete with an overflowing crowd which packed every available inch of space. At the end Isadora danced again the “Marseillaise”.

  When I say “danced”, I am using an improper word. It couldn’t be termed a dance. In fact, her impersonation was more of the sculptural order. Her arm extended, her finger stretched toward the invader, her face shining wildly with revenge, sacrifice, craving for heroic deeds, she marched on, while the audience, sprung to its feet, seemed to follow her and sang along with the orchestra. At one moment, one of her gestures broke some seams in her tunic, and the upper part became loosened, uncovering her as far as the lower part of her chest.

  This incident, which otherwise might have been ridiculous, helped to make her figure more realistic, more accurate, more popular. She was the true daughter of the great revolution, the inspiration which could lead the masses to run for arms, and start the tremendous feats which freed France from autocracy, and, after her, many other nations of the world.


   As I went down to unpack my bags and begin to arrange my part of the cabin, I heard a nasal, squeaky noise coming from the corridor: Isadora’s phonograph! A very primitive and simple talking machine; just a plain wooden box surmounted by a plate covered with ordinary green felt cloth. Nevertheless the little apparatus was very dear to her.

  She had had it for years, and had even taken it to Greece, where it had acted as an orchestra, when Isadora and her girls paraded and danced through the streets of Athens, in an effort to stir public opinion and to cause Greece to join in with the Allies!


   But we want you to know that we were worthy to receive. Isadora, all of us are Greeks! Nous sommes des Grecs! He had spoken in French, and of course, in Rio, everybody understood. At the last words, Isadora’s hands flung up: “ I know you understand me. Yes, I am a Greek, and you are too. We all are, and I love you all. Thank you. Thank you.”


   On that occasion, and more than ever, I could see how dependent Isadora was upon the sympathy of her audience. Her nature, artistically, was of the receptive kind. That is to say, she received the fluid from that audience, and reacted accordingly.

  She was swayed one way or the other. Should the fluid be negative, her spontaneity would shrink, and turn into an antagonistic disposition.

  But if it happened to be as decidedly positive as it was in Rio, she would open up in blooms, like a flower, and behave like an adorable creature, whose charm made everybody kneel at her shrine.





Wednesday the 30th. . Isadora Duncan Pundect
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