|Length:||1 hour, 30 minutes.|
|Released:||December 1st, 1998|
Legendary dancer Isadora Duncan flouted every tradition. A turn-of-the-century voluptuary and revolutionary, she rocked the arts world with her unconventional spirit. Now, Utah dancer Loa Black Clawson performs a one-woman show celebrating the life of the American-born dancer in Isadora: Done Into Dance. The intimate 90-minute performance was produced by KUED's John Howe in the KUED studio.
Writer and choreographer Clawson depicts in dialogue and dance Duncan's artistry, philosophy, and tempestuous love affairs, as well as her personal tragedy and shocking demise. Set to the piano music of Chopin and Schubert, her performance features 22 costume changes on stage.
Clawson, who spent five years developing the dance/drama under a University research grant and has performed the work in Salt Lake and around the country, found the task of recreating Isadora challenging. "Creating solo performance has always held a fascination for me, especially weaving dialogue into choreography," she says. "How do you begin to create a person's life as a theatrical event?" Clawson relied on photos and books to create a portrait of Duncan, who refused to dance on film. She traveled to Santa Fe, San Francisco, New York City, and London to view one-person performances by fellow artists, who shared ideas about character research, development, and production.
"I met Isadora through her words, letters, and speeches," she says. "The power of her words pulled me into her life and that life accommodated my own. Unlike a biographer who must express personal history with all the facts, I have tried to render a theatrical event from the landscape of many impassioned memories."
Clawson, who has devoted her life and career to dance, is a University of Utah professor emeritus. She taught on the Modern Dance faculty for 32 years and served as artistic director of the Performing Dance Company. "My life has been spent choreographing dances for the university and for professional dance companies," she says. "But as one last hurrah before my early retirement, I wanted to create a theater piece I could perform. I knew this would be a monumental project to undertake."
A pivotal figure in modern dance, Isadora was the perfect subject. She rebelled against ballet, which she felt was false, rigid and unnatural. She shed her corset and danced, revealing bare flesh and emotion. She was a non-conformist Renaissance woman.
Duncan "didn't create a dance technique, but a philosophy for life," according to Clawson. Her dancing has been defined as impressionistic, expressionistic, and interpretive. She believed movement came from breath and soul, and that the outward gesture came from within.
"The dance legacy she left didn't impress me as much as her unconventional lifestyle," says Clawson. "In recreating Isadora, I feel deja vu. Perhaps I'm experiencing a life I secretly wish I had lived."
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