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Texts / Ernest Newman

 

 

Ernest Newman

She found dancing an art: she will leave it a language

 

    It is not as a dancer that she stands out among her contemporaries. . . . What she gives us is a sort of sculpture in transition. Imagine a dozen statues expressive, say, of the cardinal phases of despair — the poses and gestures and facial expressions of the moment in which each of these phases reaches its maximum of intensity. Then imagine some hundreds of statues that represent, in faultless beauty, every one of the moments of slow transition between these cardinal phases, and you get the art of Isadora Duncan. The soul becomes drunk with this endless succession of beautiful lines and groupings.

 

    The muscular control they imply is itself wonderful enough, but more wonderful still must be the brain that can conceive and realize all these faultless harmonies of form. She seems to transfer her magic even to the fabrics she works with; no one who has ever seen it can forget the beauty of the slow sinking of her cloak to earth in one of her dances; the ripples in it move the spirit like a series of soft, mysterious modulations in music.

 

    Her secret, so far as we can penetrate to it, is apparently in the marvelous cooperation of every cell of her brain and every movement of her face and limbs. . . . The most wonderful illustration we had of this was at a certain moment in her miming of the “Ride of the Valkyries,” when, in dead immobility, she gave us an incredible suggestion of the very ecstasy of movement, something in the rapt face, I imagine, carried on the previous joy of the wild flight through the air. The sudden cessation of physical motion had the overwhelming effect that Beethoven and Wagner now and then make, not with their music, but by a pause in it.

 

Published in The Times, London, 14 April 1921

 

 

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Sunday the 19th. . Isadora Duncan Pundect
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