Isadora Duncan, founder of modern dance, wrote her autobiography a few months before she tragically died in a freak, only-in-the-1920s car accident. But, after reading My Life, one could say she really died after she lost three children within a few years of each other. Heartbreaking yet frank, My Life is an enthralling read that shines a light on a desolate star, who could not achieve happiness but has is a lasting vestige of a time when creative powers were bursting from a chaste Victorian society.
Duncan’s writing style borders on “bragging” a lot, and the forward by Joan Acocella tells a lot of Duncan’t secrets. She mentions that Duncan is lying about a few memories, and also how certain things could not have happened. I almost wished I had read the introduction after reading the book, because it spoiled a lot of things I would have loved to discover on my own.
Duncan was quite serious about her Art, eschewing any modern interpretations and performing in a Greek tunic with sandals (unheard of attire for the time). Her family followed her from San Francisco, and they wound up in Greece and attempted to build a temple but were stopped when it got too expensive. They had hitched a ride on a ship carrying cows to get from New York to England, and then bounced from apartment to apartment, but all the while Duncan maintained her air of superiority, turning down lucrative contracts to perform in venues she felt were “beneath her.” She also insisted on dancing to a full orchestra.
She wisely ends the book as she’s heading to Russia to finally build the school she always wanted (which turns out to be a disaster, just like all her other attempts to build schools had been), but it is marred because her life has unravels completely after her children die. She is drinking a lot and has no money, relying on money lenders and the lessening charity of friends. But in true Isadora fashion, she rises above and ends the book on a positive note. One wishes her life was as happy, but her legacy is one of grace.
Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Liveright. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.