Born Dora Angela Duncan on this day in San Francisco, California, Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) revolutionized American Modern Dance, introducing a new "free" style, where emotion propelled movement and improvisation.
She defied Victorian tradition and danced barefoot and bare-legged, in filmy scarves, simple Greek robes, without traditional corsets. She was a "free" spirit, liberated before it was fashionable for women to be liberated, dancing solo when it was unheard of to do so.
In 1904, Duncan established her first school in Germany, teaching poorer children and paying for their expenses. She began to assemble her famous dance group, the Isadorables.
Inspired by the writing of Walt Whitman and William Shakespeare, she herself inspired then-President Theodore Roosevelt to write, "Isadora... seems to me as innocent as a child dancing through the garden in the morning sunshine and picking the beautiful flowers of her fantasy."
Passionate and provocative... She said the Pacific Ocean and waving Sierra Nevada pine forests powered her dynamic movements. In her autobiography, My Life, Duncan wrote, "I was born under the star of Aphrodite who was also born of the sea."
Her movements celebrated Renaissance and Greek art. Duncan moved with spontaneous expressions, walking, skipping, running, leaping. Freedom carefully choreographed, with graceful technique and style. She was triumphant.
"If my art is symbolic of any one thing, it is symbolic of the freedom of woman and her emancipation," she explained. The solar plexus, she said, is where the soul lives. "To dance is to live," she taught. "Dance the way I dance and you will live to be 100."
From your center, live by instinct, faith, and emotion.