A tribute to a modern Terpsichore

” To commemorate beauty after horror, just like now in our time – where there is much horror – we need the Muses once again. We need Terpsichore to instill the memory of good, beautiful, true, fine deeds that art can perform for us. We can make the tragedy of human life a work of art instead of a terrible sorrow if we awaken the poetic imagination, if we breathe it in like the Muses did from the stream of Helicon and drink from the waters of poetic inspiration. «The first songs were the bubbling streams, the first poetry was water flowing. If we can start again, renew the soft liquidity in our bodies and the ripple of words that are not didactic but truly alive with poetry, then we are somewhere in Isadora Duncan’s world.» Jeanne Bresciani, artistic director of the Isadora Duncan International Institute, was recently in Athens for two reasons. Firstly, she had been invited by the Hellenic Carl Orff Association of Music and Movement Education, which held a two-day workshop last weekend at the Moraitis School on «Bringing the Muses Together Again: Isadora Duncan and the Ancient Spirit,» organized as part of the International Carl Orff Festival. Secondly, she was invited to the Isadora Duncan Center of Research and Dance in the district of Vyronas to present six dances by Duncan. Barefoot, clad in a light robe and her long black hair cascading down her back, Bresciani danced «Falling Angel, Rising Spirit,» «Butterfly,» «Water Study,» «Death and the Daughter» and «The Revolutionary Dance.» Prior to her appearance at the workshop, Kathimerini met up with Bresciani and asked her to describe the manner in which Duncan, one of the most influential people in the history of dance, continues even today to affect its course. How do you feel about dancing in the Greek Duncan Center, a place she built and lived in? Every home and every building where Isadora lived or taught throughout the world has been sold! The Duncan Dance Center in Athens is the only one which has survived. It is a shrine for us, a temple of dance. One of the dreams of the Isadora Duncan International Institute is a future cooperation with the Athens Duncan Center and this is already being discussed with its director Penelope Iliaskou. What are the principles of Duncan’s dance and how can these be applied today in dance, education and society? Isadora’s creative force was gigantic. It was body, soul, heart, mind, spirit. She was a figure leading us toward wholeness… She was the ideal figure, philosophically and pedagogically, to educate a child. She called her school «the school of life,» an education that doesn’t have a temporal beginning or end. It can go on for one’s entire life. It is attuning the body with the heart, the mind and the soul. What she drew from was the great source, nature, particularly abundant in the Greek vision. Implicit in all her work were the Greek myths, the capacity for image-making that has become our Western inheritance. Her influence has permeated every area of life. We live the progress that she made and if she had left us dancing, she would have left us a legacy of freedom, beauty and strength for all women, no matter what they are born with. How can one discover the secret of Duncan’s inner energy and not simply copy her movements? If they come from the world of myth, the images of the imagination and inspiration, they will find it immediately. If they come from a restrictive method, they will never get it. On the other hand, I believe that Duncan’s dance was created by something that goes beyond you and me. She borrowed from animal instincts, divine vision and human interplay.