Document Type

Article - postprint


Dance (Pomona), Theatre (Pomona)

Publication Date



dance, aesthetics, Greece, art, choreography


In this paper I want to address Craig and Duncan’s shared interest in ancient Greek art, which is the context within which Isadora Duncan developed her art, the various influences that inspired her choreography, and the historical time period that influenced the decisions that she made. I want to make several preliminary comments before proceeding to the main claim that I am making, which is that Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, and other “barefoot” dancers were not the mothers or grandmothers or inventors of modern dance, as is repeated as if it were a religious tenet of faith in dance history courses across the nation, a point that I made in an earlier study. (Shay 2008). Rather, I will make the case that Isadora was an impressionistic dancer, who like the other barefoot dancers, left no lasting pedagogical technique, that is a method of movement that could be conveyed to others as a means of teaching, as was in fact the case with one of the true mothers of modern dance, Martha Graham. “Graham’s radical movement was inspired to some extent by her German counterpart Mary Wigman, but it was fed by her own uncompromising determination to forge a new aesthetic—one that would express the surging vitality, hard edge, and revolutionary spirit of the American Dancer” in which Graham moved in the exact opposite direction of her mentors St. Denis and Ted Shawn with their “decorative excesses” in the words of dance historian Henrietta Bannerman. (2010, 262-263).


This is the author's final manuscript - the final published version will be uploaded here once it is published, with the permission of Theatre Arts Journal. See the following link for the Theatre Arts Journal website: