Isadora Duncan's Russian Days
Irma Duncan and Allan Ross Macdougall
Covici Friede (1929)
This Page Last Modified on May 2, 2006
[at the Theatre des Champs Elysees, Paris, Summer 1920]
"I have danced the Marseillaise today because I love France. … France is
the only country that understands Liberty, Life, Art and Beauty." P5.
"I have great hopes for Russia. … I believe that she is the future for
Artists and the Spirit." P5.
"You know why you are here today. It is not for me, nor yet for yourselves,
but for the little children who will dance in the future." P5.
"I did not invent my dance. It existed before me, it lay dormant. I merely discovered and awakened it." Pp5-6.
"When I speak of my school, people do not understand that I do not want paying pupils; I do not sell my soul for silver. … The children I long for are the orphans of the war, who have lost everything, who no longer have their fathers and mothers." P6.
"I have little need of money. Look at my costumes. They are not complicated;
they did not cost very much. Look at my decors; these simple blue curtains
I have had since I first started dancing. As for jewels, I have no need
for them. A flower is more beautiful in the hands of a woman than all the
pearls and diamonds in the world. Don't you think so?" P6.
"… I wish to keep the children in a school; … It is because when they return to these homes they will not be properly nourished, either mentally or physically. I want my pupils to know Shakespeare, and Dante, and Aeschylus, and Moliere. I want them to read and know the masterminds of the world." P6.
"To dance is to live. And that is what I want -- a school of Life; for the
riches of man are his Soul and Imagination. Give me, ask your President
to give me, one hundred war-orphans, and in five years I will give you
-- this I promise -- beauty and riches beyond imagining." Pp6-7.
"There is perhaps a life after this one here. I do not know what we shall
have. But this I do know: our riches here on earth are our wills and our
"Help me get my school. If not, I will go to Russia with the Bolshevists. … I will say to the leaders: 'Give me your children, and I will teach them to dance like gods, or … assassinate me.' They will give me my school or they will assassinate me. For if I do not have my school I would far rather be killed. It would be much better." Pp7-8.
[A letter to the People's Commissar of Education, Antaole Vasilief Lunatcharsky in Spring 1921]
"I shall never hear of money in exchange for my work. I want a studio-workshop,
a house for myself and pupils, simple food, simple tunics, and the opportunity
to give our best work. I am sick of bourgeois, commercial art. … I am
sick of the modern theatre, which resembles a house of prostitution more
than a temple of art, where artists who should occupy the place of high-priests
are reduced to the maneuvers of shop-keepers selling their tears and their
very souls for so much a night. I want to dance for the masses, for the
working people who need my art and have never had the money to come and
see me. And I want to dance for them for nothing, … If you accept me on
these terms, I will come and work for the future of the Russian Republic
and its children." Pp12-13.
[After Isadora's friend Tchaikowsky, the daughter of a former Minister of Agriculture under the Czarist Regime, Maklakov, a former Russian Ambassador to France, etc. says , "Food is so scarce that they (the Bolshevists) are slaughtering four-year-old children and hanging them up by their limbs in butcher shops"]
"Well if this is all true, then I must go! … Don't worry, Irma. They'll eat me first anyway. There's a lot of me. Meanwhile you'll manage to escape!" P14.
[After a Bolshevist leader Leonid Krassine asks Isadora what contract she wants]
"'A contract?' I laughed. ' I have no need of that. I want pupils, a school,
a great hall to create my work. … ' We will be fed?'" P16.
"… my pupils will teach all the little ones. They will know how to dance
as they know how to read: there will be joy for all." P17.
[After a sceptic asks Isadora what Isadora and pupils will do if they are hungry]
"We will dance so as not to think of it!" P17.
[After arriving Reval]
"Well, we are in for it not." P21.
"If I receive people and am nice to them, or if they come in contact with
you or some other one of my pupils, they go off and open schools of Duncan
dancing. Or else they unlatch their shoon and dance themselves. It has
happened so often that it has become a joke. If all my supposed pupils
were to be placed end to end they would stretch from here across Siberia
to Vladivostok and back again!" Pp24-25.
"The School of the Ballet of today," Isadora had said, "vainly
striving against the natural laws of gravitation or the natural will of
the individual, and working in discord in its form and movement with the
form and movement of Nature, produces a sterile movement which gives no
birth to future movements, but dies as it is made." P40.
"Music drama is nonsense … One must speak, then sing, then dance. But the
speaking is the brain, the thinking man. The singing is the emotion. The
dancing is the Dionysian ecstasy which carries away all. It is impossible
to mix them in any way, one with the other. Music drama is impossible!" P43.
[After watching children's peasant dances at Malakofka in August 1921]
"These are the dances of slaves you have danced. All the movements go down
to the earth. You must learn to dance the dance of free people. You must
hold your heads high and throw out wide your arms as though you would embrace
the whole universe in a large fraternal gesture!" P52-53.
"As the man, Comrade Podvowsky … looks down on his troops with an infinite
love and clairvoyance in his eyes, such as one does not meet in the eyes
of a God; and indeed, seeing him standing there with this strong dream
of a new world in his eyes, I turned to my companions and said: 'This great
revolutionist, this finest of communists, Comrade Podvowsky, this is a
God-like man.'" P57.
[After Isadora gives Podvowsky's children a lesson in dancing, he says, "In one hour they are transformed. But I am afraid you would soften them. They must be raised, you know, as soldiers of the Revolution."]
"'… how can my dancing soften them? I will teach them great heroic movements. Your girls will dance, and your boys will dance like Sophocles before the armies, and inspire them to new deeds of heroism.'" P62.
Why is it that the artist and the saint are so far removed? Never has a
saint been an artist and never has an artist been a saint --Fra Angelico--Saint
Francis: yes, the exceptions that prove the rule. P62.
[A letter to the Paris Press]
"In each human being, and above all in children and artists, there exists
a sixth sense that enables us to divine the psychology of a soul, or a
group of men, or a town. It is this sixth sense that has dictated all my
artistic career. It was in listening to this voice that I left Europe,
where Art has been crushed by Commercialism. And it is by this sixth sense
that I divine Moscow. … I am convinced that here in Russia is the greatest
miracle that has happened to humanity for two thousand years. … Moscow
is a miracle city, and the martyrdom submitted by Russia will be for the
future that which the crucifixion was. The human soul will be more beautiful,
more generous, and greater than ever dreamt by Christ. … The spiritual
truth of that which passes here I see as a shining vision of the future.
The prophesies of Beethoven, of Nietzsche, of Walt Whitman are being realized.
All men will be brothers, carried away by the great wave of liberation
that has just been born here in Russia. This is the message that my soul
received, … This is the message I would fain send you. (signed) Isadora
[When Isadora was asked to write her last will and testament before going on a honeymoon with Essenine]
"Nonsense! … I've never made a will in my life." P126.
[Isadora changed her mind and wrote her last will and testament.]
"This is my last will and testament. In case of my death I leave my entire
properties and effects to my husband Sergei Essenine. In case of our simultaneous
death then such properties to go to my Brother, Augustin Duncan.
Written in clear conscience.
May Ninth, 1922, Moscow." Pp126-127.
THE AMERICAN TOUR 1922-1923
[When Isadora and Essenine came to USA, they were detained by the immigration authorities. Then she told one of the army of reporters following:]
"We [Isadora and Essenine] want to tell the American people about the poor starving children in Russia
and not about the country's politics. Sergei is not a politician. He is
a genius. He is a great poet. We have come to America with only one idea
in mind -- to tell of the Russian conscience and to work for the rapprochement
of the two great countries. No politics, no propaganda. It is only in the
field of art that we are working. We believe that the soul of Russia and
the soul of America are about to understand each other. … There is just
one thing that astonishes me. That is to hear that the American government
has no sympathy with revolutions. I had always been taught that our great
country was started by a revolution in which my great-grandfather, General
William Duncan, played a noble part." Pp144-145.
[After Isadora and Essenine were released, she said follwing]
"I feel as if I were acquitted of murder. They seemed to think that a year's residence in Moscow had made me a blood-thirsty criminal ready to throw bombs at the slightest provocation. Then they [immigration authorities] asked me silly questions, such as, 'Are you a classical dancer?' I told
them I didn't know, because my dancing is quite personal. They wanted to
know what I looked like when I danced! How do I know? I never saw myself
dance. … I have never had anything to do with politics. All my time in
Russia has been spent taking care of little orphans and teaching them my
art. To say or even hint that I am a Bolshevik is Rot! Rot! Rot! " Pp148-149.
[at the Carnegie Hall on Oct. 7, 1922]
"Why must I go to Moscow after illusions that don't exist, when you in America
also need the dance for your children? I know the American nervous child,
for I was one myself. …Soon I hope to show you fifty Russian children
dancing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. … Why does not America give me a school?
It was the lack of response to this that made me accept the invitation
"America has all that Russia has not! Russia has things that America has not. Why will America not reach out a hand to Russia, as I have given my hand?" Pp150-151.
"as a dancer, I am really a great orator!" P152.
[at the Symphony Hall, Boston, on Oct. 11 on Oct. 11, 1922]
"This is red! So am I! It is the color of life and vigor. You were once
wild here. Don't let them tame you !" 152.
[before leaving Boston for Chicago]
"If my Art is symbolic of any one thing, it is symbolic of the freedom of
woman and her emancipation from the hide-bound conventions that are the
warp and woof of New England Puritanism.
To expose one's body is art; concealment is vulgar. When I dance, my object is to inspire reverence; not to suggest anything vulgar. I do not appeal to the lower instincts of mankind as your half-clad chorus girls do.
"Nudeness is truth, it is beauty, it is art. Therefore it can never be vulgar; it can never be immoral. I would not wear my clothes, if it were not for their warmth. My body is the temple of my art. I expose it as a shrine for the worship of beauty." Pp154-155.
"When I dance, I use my body as a musician uses his instrument, as a painter
uses his palette and brush, and as a poet the images of his mind. It has
never dawned on me to swathe myself in hampering garments or to bind my
limbs and drape my throat, for am I not striving to fuse soul and body
in one unified image of beauty?" P156.
"I did not tear off my dress and cry: 'I'm red! I'm red! I'm red! … But when I remember the ghastly array of Symphony Hall, the horrible white plaster statues of Greek Gods, and the general fearfulness of the Boston Ideal of Life and Culture, I think some psychic message may have reached me. And as one sees from the Hindu Fakir, the audience saw and heard, not what I said or did, but, perhaps, what I felt!" P158.
[Isadora's speech during her performance in Chicago]
"My manager tells me that if I make more speeches the tour is dead. Very
well, the tour is dead. I will go back to Moscow where there is vodka,
music, poetry, and dancing. … Oh, yes, and Freedom! … Why can't I make
"I know why you are so sympathetic. It is because I was here twenty, twenty-one, twenty-four years ago. Do you know I feel much younger now than when I was here. It is because all my life I have only 'listened to music.' I have never been a dancer; I do not like any kind of dancing, except, perhaps the Japanese." Pp159-160.
[Isadora said to reporters in the Waldorf-Astoria, NY]
"Every time I come to America, they [reporters] bowl around me like a pack
of wolves. They say I am a Bolshevik propagandist. It is not true. I am
dancing the same dances that I did before Bolshevism was invented. The
Boston papers invented the story of my taking off my dress and waving it,
crying 'I'm Red!' It's an absolute lie.
"Why is it that my dances are copied in girls' schools all over the
country, yet when I appear in person I am subjected to calumny on all sides.
They are willing to copy my ideas but not to help the originator. … My
dancing, which has inspired artists all over the world to a love of the
beautiful, may not be seen in Boston, because an Irish politician says
it is not proper. There is American Puritanism for you." Pp160-161.
[Before leaving the USA for France with S.S. George Washington at the end of Jan., 1923, Isadora said to reporters:]
"I really ought not to say a word to you newspaper men. You have succeeded in ruining my tour, on which I had hoped so much to earn enough money to send back to my starving children in Moscow. Instead of taking back money, I have been compelled to borrow money from friends.
"Your papers have devoted whole columns to printing details about my personal
life during my tour; what I ate, what I drank, whom I associated with,
but never a word about my art. Materialism is the curse of America. This
is the last time you will ever see me in America again. I would rather
live in Russia on nlack bread and vodka than here in the best hotels, You
know nothing of Love, Food, or Art.
"In Russia there is freedom, Here the people do not know what it is. Freedom here? Pah! Your capitalist press ruined my tour, because I came here to teach the people what Freedom really is. You people don't want Art. When I arrived here to give you real Art they put me on Ellis Island. …
"Had I come to this country as a foreign financier to borrow money, I would
have had a great reception. As I only came here as a recognized artist,
I was sent to Ellis Island as a dangerous individual. I am not an anarchist
or a bolshevist. My husband and I are revolutionists. All geniuses worthy
of the name are. Every artist has to be one today to make a mark in the
"So good-bye, America! I shall never see you again." Pp165-167.
[excerpts from Isadora's speeches and interviews during her American tour 1922-1923]
"Art is greater than Governments." P167.
"There is nothing new in my Art, which I danced as a child. No one seems
to understand, but I am trying to teach the world to think as I do. I have
the idea I was born with, and my idea is the idea of life." P167.
"All great men were never really understood or appreciated before they reached
a ripe age. I do not think I will be thoroughly understood for some time
to come." P167.
"Many people have tried to imitate my dancing on the stage, and though they may go through the same motions with their arms and legs, they do not give it the soul interpretation." P168.
"My art is an expression of life. My dancing is of the imagination and spirit,
not of the body. When my body moves it is because my spirit moves it." P168.
"I hate dancing. I am an expressioniste of beauty. I use my body as my medium,
just as the writer uses his words. Do not call me a dancer." P168.
"The thing that interests me most in the world is the education of children. All problems can be solved if one begins with the child." P168.
"I believe, as Jean Jacques Rousseau did, that it is unnecessary to worry
a child's brain during the first twelve years of his life. One should offer
poetry, music, dancing, not book-learning, during that period. The spiritual
experiences last a life time." P168.
"I want to start a dancing school in America. By music and the dance I want
to train children how to live. I don't want to train them for the stage.
I hate children on the stage …" P168.
"The people of this country [USA] are physically sick. They believe they are supreme in everything. We owe to Russia great deal of our music, literature, and culture." P169.
"I am a Russian now. I was born an American. And if I am a ''Red,"
as they say, then those who go about so busily taking the alcohol out of
wine, the beauty out of the theatre, and the joy out of living, are greys." P169.
"American is so flippant. They talk of me flippantly. They imitate my dancing,
but do not understand it. I preach freedom of the mind through freedom
of thee body: women, for example -- out of the prison of corsets into a
free, flowing tunic like this." P169.
"There is no better way to put happiness into the hearts of children of the people than to teach them to dance." Pp169-170.
"That gruesome thing we used to call middle-age should disappear. Women,
if they will, can prove the power of mind over matter." P170.
"Age is only self-hypnotism." P170.
"One cannot make plans for life, or rules for marriage. Life comes, and one lives, each day. I am opposed to marriages. I believe in the emancipation of women." P170.
"There are many who think, apparently, that life is a series of extremely
boring habits which they call virtues. I do not believe in putting chains
and a padlock on life. Life is an experience, an adventure. It is an expression.
Most Americans are hypnotized by a wrong idea of life, brought to this
country by the Puritans." P170.
[One of Isadora's favorite mottos]
"always go to the best hotel." P171.
[the part of the letter to the Paris edition of the New York Herald]
"Essenine is one of the many victims of America's prohibition laws, from
which one can read daily cases of death, blindness, or insanity. … I brought
Essenine from Russia, where the conditions of his life were of terrible
hardship to save his genius for the World. He is returning to Russia to
save his reason, and I know that there will be many hearts all over the
world who will pray with me that this great imaginative poet may be saved
for future creation of that Beauty which the World so needs." Pp173-174.
[at the Trocadero (probably on May 27, 1923)]
"Come closer, look at me. I have two things to say to you[the audience]. First, it has been written that I am a Bolshevist. … Have I the look of
a Bolshevist? … But I am from Moscow, where I vainly sought for Bolshevists.
I met them in Paris, in New York. … But in Moscow I never met a single
Bolshevist. But I saw many little children dying of hunger. Give me some
pennies for the starving children of Moscow, who do not know anything about
politics. … Now I will tell you the second thing: I do not know how to
dance at all; not at all. At least I do not know if I know how to dance.
Place your hands as I do on your heart, listen to your soul, and all of
you will know how to dance as well as I or my pupils do … There is the
true revolution. Let the peoples place their hands in this way on their
hearts, and in listening to their souls they will know how to conduct themselves.
… For revolution should not be political. … " Pp176-177.
[The protestant against the lying writing published by a well-known White Russian Author, Monsieur Merejkowsky in the L'eclair of the 16th of June]
"Monsieur Merejkowsky says … 'Mr. Sergei Essenine and Madame Isadora Duncan were expelled from America and then from France.' This is a lie. Not only were we not expelled from America, but my representations in Carnegie Hall were attended seven times by audiences of 4,000 enthusiastic persons, who acclaimed me with bravos for a half an hour after the program -- enthusiasm little known in America. What then does our deportation consist of?
… Our 'deportation from France' -- the while we are living very happy in our house. … Merejkowsky then writes, on the subject of my Art, that my tired legs amused the public at the Trocadero. To this I can only reply that I have never sought to amuse the public; my one desire being to make them feel what I myself am feeling. And sometimes I have succeeded. But my legs are the least of my means, for, being neither an acrobat nor a dancer, I have the pretentions of being an artiste. And even were I legless I might still create my Art.
… Merejkowsky says that during a spectacle at the Trocadero I called Lenin an angel. The truth is I called Essenine an angel, for he is the man I love. I did not speak of Lenin, and if I had spoken of him I would have said, 'He is a man of genius,' but I never would have called him an angel.
Moreover I have nothing to do with politics. During the war I danced the Marseillaise, because I felt that it was the road that led to Liberty. To-day I dance to the sound of the Internationale because I have the feeling that it is the Hymn of the Future and of Humanity.
I went to Moscow, allured by the great art dream of directing a school with a thousand children; after a year's work I feel I sowed some joy and some good about me, and with the memory of that I only spoke of a Poet [Essenin] and the little children who are hungry.
… 'Russia will be reborn' writes Merejkowsky. Does he not know that Russia has just been reborn, the first miracle since Jesus Christ? And it has not only been the Renaissance of Russia, but that of all the Earth, of Humanity, of the Future.
(Signed) Isadora Duncan" Pp182-185.
[In the beginning of the Isadora's performance in Kislavodsk in Aug. 1923]
"There are members of the Police back stage. … They have come to arrest me! … They have come to arrest me if I attempt to dance for you this evening the Marche Slave of Tchaikowsky. But I'm going to dance it even if they arrest me afterwards. After all, the prison cannot be much worse than my room at the Grand Hotel." P202.
[On the occasion of the taking over the Cathedral in Tiflis to a revolutionary club]
"You cannot take away religion from the people without giving them something
in return. Give me the cathedral instead of turning it over to a club.
I will devise a series of beautiful musical festivals. With lovely music
and noble movements, I will make ceremonies for births, ceremonies for
marriage, and ceremonies for the passing away of human life. If you must
take away the religious ceremonies, let me with my music and my dance substitute
something as beautiful as the rites of ancient Greece." Pp227-228.
[from Isadora's manuscript]
"The Gods sell their gifts dearly. For every joy there is a corresponding
agony. For what they give of Fame, Wealth, Love, they exact Blood and Tears
and grinding Sorrow. I am continually surrounded by flames." P229.
"This is the Christian education which does not know how to teach to children
Nietzache's superb phrase: "Be hard!" Only from an early age
some spirit kept whispering to me to 'be hard.'" P232.
[When coming back Witepsk to Leningrad, Isadora had a traffic accident and said]
"I was at first in a daze and told myself that this must surely be the end!
I have always believed that my end would come in a motor accident. For
a while I lay with the most unearthly stillness all about me. Then I felt
something struggling beside me and realized that I had come out alive." Pp 240-241.
[in an article "DANCING IN THE RED STADIUM"]
"Movement is a language even as powerful and expressive as words. I could not explain my lessons in words to these children, but I spoke to them by the language of movement and they by their responsive movement showed me that they understood." Pp260-261.
[In a letter to Dougie on Sept. 2, 1924]
"You will be pleased to hear that I have not seen the turbulent Essenine
since a year." P263.
[Notes for a speech at the Kamerny Theatre, Moscow on Sept. 21, 1924 (The
second day of her farewell concerts)]
"The two sources of Art: Apollo and Dionysus. '
'Music since the time of Bach has been under the influence of Apollo.
"Liszt's music is Apolloinion. It always seeks for the beauty that comes
to human beings from without Besuty, but a weaker beauty for humanity than
Dionysus can inspire.
"In his music you will quickly see that his creative strength comes from within."
"Scriabine is a bridge from the old world to the new. He himself took no
active part in the building an d the conquering of the new world, but he
made a great breach in the gigantic wall that stood between the two worlds.
"I also am trying to make another breach in the wall like Scriabine.
"I believe that my School will create a new art or show the way toward it. Only the new generation will be able to express the new world and find new genius and new ideas. Pp 267-268.
[in the third day of her farewell performance]
"… I am going to speak about myself, but my Life is so tightly bound up
with my Art, it is so much one and the same that I must always refer to
"When I was little, I had no toys or childish fun. I often ran away alone
into the woods or on to the beach by the sea, and there I danced. I felt
then that my shoes and my clothes hindered me. My heavy shoes felt like
chains, and my clothes were my prison. So I took everything off. And without
any eyes watching me, all alone, I danced quite naked by the sea, and it
seemed to me as if the sea and all the trees were dancing with me. …" P270.
"Little children don't understand verbal teaching. Words, for children, are not alive. Little children learn through movements. Children up to the ages of ten or twelve learn more from the soul. But now nobody believes any more in the soul. So I say they learn from the spirit, from intuition. I have noticed that the smallest children understand Beethoven and Schubert, but they could never understand them through words, only through movements. They form themselves as naturally as plants with all their feelings. The life of a child changes all the time, changes continually, and every pedagogue who wants to, adapts himself to the child who is like a plant, never static, continually growing. The pedagogue should give the child something new every day.
"To-day you have seen how every child expresses the same dance differently.
One must approach each child separately, as each child is different from
"I hate muscles, arms, and legs. I never say to a child: 'Hold yourself
so; do so.' I don't like physical culture, sports. I don't like the Dalcroze
system. I find all that is a sin, and a crime committed against the nature
of the child. A child needs something quite different. It needs naturalness
without pressure, without influence. It is not necessary to subject it
to any demands. It should, by itself, like a plant, unfold to the light,
to the sun.
"Here in our head is knowledge, thought: here in our breast is a motor which supplies power for our most wonderful emotions. I say to the child: 'Put your hands here on your breast, then lift them up high and higher to the stars, to the planets. Embrace the whole world with your arms. Reach out to the Universe. You are only a small child, but you stand on the earth. There is a place for you in the Universe.' Pp272-273.
… I have no mysticism. I say to the child: 'look at the world, the whole
Universe dances together with you, the human being. Man, different from
all the other animals, holds up his head, while his feet remain on the
I say to the children: 'when you run out into the woods or into the garden
try to keep yourselves free, in harmony with nature. Go and enjoy yourselves;
jump, play, laugh. And be boisterous.' But I am not of the opinion of some
of your pedagogues that they ought to be left entirely to themselves, screaming
and fighting each other like wild Indians. No, the child must lean self
control; learn to express its feelings harmoniously. That will make it
grow stronger than those children who are left to grow up wildly without
learning to control themselves. To let a child develop itself through a
dynamic dance is difficult, but to force it to hold its musical pause,
as the children have just done in the Schubert march they danced for you,
is still more difficult. I have noticed aftewards that they gained more
strength from that than from the dynamic dance. Pp274-275.
"I want very much to know what your opinion of my educational system is? … The greatest compliment paid to my School would be if every mother in the audience said: 'I would also like my child to dance like that.' P275.
[Answer to the question: "Why are there no boys among your pupils?"]
"I wanted very much to have five hundred boys and five hundred girls in
my schools. For my school is a school of life and not a school of dancing.
It is a current opinion that dancing is feminine, and therefore only girls
have joined my school. But I, personally, would have preferred boys, for
they are better able to express the heroism of which we have so much need
in this Age." P276.
BERLIN - PARIS - NICE
[In the letter to Irma from Nice (March 12, 1925)]
"Love to all the children, love to you, and Hope through everything. My
motto: ''Sans Limites." P297.
[Isadora said to a novelist and her old secretary Andre Arnyvelde in Fall, 1925 ]
"'Let them give me five hundred, a thousand children, and I will make them do wonderful things! The child is the harmonious instinct, the total freshness; it is the virgin clay wherein can be imprinted joy, life, nature. All children can dance if one knows how to guide them and make them understand what the dance should be. But the body is nothing, we must first instruct the soul. If they will give me a thousand children, I will bring here my best pupils from Moscow. They will act as monitors of the school, and they will live with me, being nourished and clothed by me. Living among my books and works of art, they will be impregnated by my principles. … '" Pp306-307.
[Isadora sent a telegraph to the press of Paris about the death of Essenine]
"The news of the tragic death of Essenine has caused me the deepest pain.
He had youth, beauty, genius. Not content with all these gifts, his audacious
spirit sought the unattainable, and he wished to lay low the Philistines.
"He has destroyed his young and splendid body, but his soul will live eternally in the soul of the Russian people and in the souls of those who love the poets. I protest strongly against the frivolous and inexact statements printed in the American press of Paris. There was never between Essenine and myself any quarrel or divorce. I weep his death with anguish and despair.
ISADORA DUNCAN." P315.
[A letter to Irma on Jan. 27, 1926]
"I was terribly shocked about Sergei's death, but I wept and sobbed so many
hours about him that it seems he had already exhausted any human capacity
for suffering. Myself, I'm having an epoch of such continual calamity that
I am often tempted to follow his example, only I will walk into the Sea.
Now in case I don't do that, here is a plan for the future [Opening a big paying school in France to support her Russian school].
"I see a future in the combining of this studio as a practical money making affair and Moscow as Ideal and Art." Pp316-317.
[After Isadora made a contract to publish her memoir]
"I have never yet put my signature to a contract that I did not carry out." P329.
[excerpts from the article of Mary Fanton Roberts]
"I've never criticized any artist who sold her body to save her art, though
I don't believe art can be saved that way; but I cannot forgive any one
for betraying one's art. Art is sacred. It is the most sacred thing in
the world, after children. If I had not held my art sacred, I would never
have danced after the death of my little ones. When I poised for Bourdelle
for the bas-reliefs, I thought that theater was going to be a Temple. …" P337.
[Answer to the Roberts' question: "Isadora, have you any definite plans for your future?"]
"… Before I die, I want to teach hundreds of children how to let their souls fill their growing bodies with music with music and love. I never taught my pupils any steps. I never taught myself technique. I told them to appeal to their spirit, as I did to mine. Art is nothing else." P338.
"Artists must never think about money. They must never think about anything
but giving their art to the public. That is the only way to make money." P338.
"You must never regard the outward envelope. … Il n'y a que deux choses
qui compte dans la vie -- la Bonte et l'Intelligence. Mais la Bonte d'abord." (There are only two things that count in life -- Goodness and Intelligence. But Goodness first.) P341.
[Before riding the Bugatti on Sept. 14, 1927]
"Adieu, mes amis. Je vais a la gloire! (Good-bye, my friends, I am off to
[In a letter]
"'I, who by my work have always tried to preach that Joy is stronger than
Sorrow; that Death is but a door that leads us to the Eternal Harmony of
the Universe; that the fearsome appearances of physical suffering and matter
are merely an illusion that the initiated know how to interpret (forgive
me, I cannot express myself in words, but I have often danced my Credo,
and the triumphant proof was given by Beethoven in the great Hymn to Joy
at the end of the Ninth Symphony),…
"' I am going at once to start work, forward, always with the voices of the unseen Angels, with Beauty, the divine Music, towards the Joy and the Light that are our final goal.' Pp369-370.
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