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Monday, November 3, 2008

Love & Art: Isadora Duncan

This past Saturday and Sunday, Lori Belilove--famed lineage-bearer and interpreter of Isadora Duncan dance--led her Isadora Duncan Dance Company in a 90-minute concert featuring a live performance by pianist Anastasiya Popova at Judson Memorial Church. With its landmark architectural details--especially the angelic Augustus Saint-Gaudens baptistery frieze--and its history of radical dance innovation, the church provided an exquisite and oddly-appropriate setting for Duncan's pioneering, proto-modern movement.

Given everything we have seen and learned from the revolutionary Judson generation and their successors, it might be hard to think of Duncan's emotionally- and politically-passionate dances as innovative. However, in her day, Duncan's poetic channeling of nature--delicate ripples and sensuous flow, fiery crackling and powerful soaring--introduced a liberation of the female dancing body, a refreshing response to classical music, and a new approach to the presentation of dance on the stage. She also broke barriers to the expression of progressive themes concerning the rights of the masses.

Given advances in technique and contemporary experimentation, Duncan dance, seen today, might not be to every taste. However, Belilove and her dancers--including the Beliloveables children's corps--perform it with rigor, liveliness and keen attention to graceful line. It is music, classical visual art and nature brought to life through an idealism that lives on in the discipline of this committed troupe.

If you missed the Judson presentations, you'll have numerous opportunities to experience Duncan technique--through ongoing classes and workshops for children, teens and adults, a winter intensive in January, and a special evening featuring Belilove and Sabrina Jones, author of Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography, on January 3 at the Brooklyn Museum.

For details, visit the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation site.

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