The Untimely Demise of Isadora Duncan

June 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm (Dance, Death, Famous Last Words, Women) (, , , , , , )

Duncan draped in her signature flowing attire. Duncan draped in her signature flowing attire.

Widely revered as the originator of modern dance, San Francisco-born dancer Isadora Duncan (1877 – 1927) took Europe by storm during the 2nd and 3rd decades of the 20th century. Her vivacious, bohemian approach to dance served as a popular challenge to the rigid norms of the day, rocketing her to superstar status within dance circles. Ironically, it was this very sense of flair that proved to be Duncan’s undoing.

isadora duncan

On the evening of September 14 of 1927, Duncan entered an Amilcar driven by her kept man, a dashing Italian mechanic. Giving herself the distinction of being one of history’s few celebrities with well-known last words, Duncan reportedly uttered to a friend, “I am off to love!” (This quote has been widely and incorrectly cited as, “I am off to glory!”) The automobile then sped away.

A 1927 Italian Amilcar automobile.

A 1927 Italian Amilcar automobile.

Duncan was fond of long scarves, one of which flowed behind her on the evening of her violent death on the Riviera of Nice. The end of the silk scarf was blown down to the rotating tire of the speeding car where it was caught. The motion of the tire quickly pulled the scarf taut, jerking Duncan backward with such force that, some reports claim, her head was nearly torn from her body. Her corpse was dragged across the French cobblestones for several moments before the automobile halted. While her death was instant, its legendary status still reverberates in the romanticizing voice box of lore. In life Duncan was certainly a bon vivant, ostentatiously capturing the media’s attention. Is there a homologous phrase denoting one who dies gruesomely while in the public eye? Please reply to this post with any suggestions.

Some Further Reading:

The Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation

A biography of Duncan from the San Francisco Museum

A video of Duncan dancing to a Brahms waltz

Some quotes attributed to Duncan

Advertisements

5 Comments

  1. Binky said,

    How about “l’doomed burrita”

  2. bexy said,

    as a toddler in england, my paternal grandfather took dance lessons with her..
    also there’s a ridiculous biopic starring a young vanessa redgrave, frolicking about in grecian dresses giving impassioned speeches about art & love, being bohemian, to which i found incredibly erotic at age 12. i think i remember seeing some tatas..

  3. uhbh said,

    i love dis

  4. Patricia Kissinger said,

    This is not Isadora Duncan. The dancer is Lori Belilove.

  5. Flatware Sets said,

    “;” I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information `:”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: