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From the exhibition Chaillot, une mémoire de la danse, running May 3 – August 26 at the Bibliothèque Nationale Française in Paris to celebrate the official consecration of the Chaillot Palace, located on the Seine facing the Eiffel tower, as France’s National Theater de la Danse: “Orphée” after Gluck’s “Orphée and Eurydice,” Danses et Choeurs d’Isadora Duncan, program from the Trocadéro Palace, Marcy 25, 27, and 29, 191 3. © BnF – Arts du spectacle.
By André Levinson
Copyright Librairie Bloud & Gay, Paris, 1924
Translated by Paul Ben-Itzak
(Excerpted from “La Danse au Théâtre,” which assembles Levinson’s critical articles published between April 1922 and April 1923, for the most part in the Paris daily Comoedia, here from a December 11, 1922 piece entitled “The Quarrel Between the Ancients and the Moderns,” with the sub-heading “The Trial of Isadora Duncan.”)
Certainly, Isadora Duncan is guilty as charged. She was the grand switch operator who redirected dance onto a dead-end track and made it derail. Her enthusiastic brand of Hellenism à la headmistress produced unprecedented ravages. Her musical dilettantism grew into a rage of epidemic proportions. “Rise, Lazarus, and dance!” clamored the American demagogue. And a thousand young women suddenly declared themselves dancers. An army surged around Isadora, an international brigade of the barefooted. With the great stamping of her large naked feet she makes Beethoven jump, Chopin run, Gluck trot. Proclaimed the redeemer of the body, which she emancipates from all the conventional shackles, she enters in the Pantheon. Bringing with her, it’s claimed, a re-birth.
I have a dear friend in Russia, one of the country’s most subtle critics. An intelligence that I call gourmontienne* and a pure sensibility inhabiting a sickly and deformed body. Disabled, he drags himself along laboriously with the aid of a crutch and a cane. Well, this man was transported to such a degree by the Duncanian “miracle” that he declared her art to be “the means for all of us to become beautiful.”
Without doubt, the personality of the dancer herself has a lot to do with this infatuation, or rather this idolatry. Without any particular physical beauty, with her figure recalling a kindly school-marm, her torso lacking any suppleness, her feet flattened out and widened by two decades of naked stomping on the planks, Isadora nonetheless has been able to preserve a certain plastic prestige. Her gestures are sober, at times evocative. And if her musicality seems doubtful and approximate, she has the gift of fecund emotions. Her practically non-existent technique can be assimilated in 24 hours by just about any dancer. Her audacity, on the other hand, is incommensurate, genial. Her pupils and imitators are innumerable; to imitate her one has no need of audacity!
Nevertheless, Isadora might have been useful to dance: useful like a good old-fashioned fire is useful for the beautification of a neighborhood.
When Isadora appeared on the scene, dance had been languishing for 20 years. Classical dancers continued their arduous task in a complete moral isolation; artists and poets had lost interest in this grand tradition. And all that was left of the not so distant past of the incomparable kingdom of the ballerina’s court — of which Théophile Gautier, Jules Janin, Théodore de Banville, Stéphane Mallarmé, Gavarni and Lamy had been the reigning dignitaries — were the last remnants of some decrepit members. Even if the handful of simple-minded and upright true believers, gifted with good instincts, who knew how to maintain, despite and against all the others, their unshakeable conviction and keep their metier intact were admirable. Because being a ballerina, only a few years ago, was a perilous distinction.
Well, it was Isadora who brought the masses back to dance, who created a new audience for it. She knew how to promote a vast surge of opinion. One which is not going away, however much she uses her very real power to inculcate deplorable and paltry concepts, and nurtures false sensibilities among this public. Thanks to her, those who have come to clear the terrain and reconstruct will not be operating in a void. And it’s thus that the fruits of her efforts, negative as they may have been, appear considerable and propitious.
*A reference to the journalist and critic Remy de Gourmont (1858 – 1915), known for his vast erudition. In 1889, was one of the co-founders of the new Mercure de France, to which he almost exclusively devoted his literary efforts after being diagnosed with Lupus. Gourmont also worked for the French Bibliothèque Nationale.
By The Dance Insider
Copyright 2004, 2018 Paul Ben-Itzak
Today marks the 214th anniversary of the birth of Marie Taglioni, the first dancer to use pointe artistically. In 2001, the Dance Insider lead a world-wide campaign to place pointe shoes on the dilapidated Montmartre cemetery grave (in the shadow of the impeccably maintained tomb of Nijinsky) identified by the city of Paris as Taglioni’s final resting place. In October 2004, the DI capped the celebration of Taglioni’s bicentennial, of which it was the lead organizer, with a conference and performance co-presented by the Italian Institute and co-organized by Sophie Parcen of the Paris Opera Ballet. As of May 2016, the city of Paris had yet to remove Taglioni’s name from the stationary maps of the Montmartre cemetery. Founded in 1998 by a collective of professional dance artists and journalists to build the dance audience, tell stories not told elsewhere, and give a voice to dancers, the DI is celebrating its 20th anniversary. For information on purchasing your own copy of our archive of 2,000 reviews of performances and art from around the world by 150 leading dance critics, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
PARIS — Officials at the Montmartre Cemetery this morning agreed to take Marie (also known as Maria) Taglioni’s name off cemetery maps after an Italian Institute-Dance Insider conference revealed that Taglioni, the first dancer to use pointe artistically, is not buried in the cemetery tomb which bears her name, but in the Pere Lachaise cemetery under the name of Gilbert de Voisins, the ex-husband she divorced after he turned her away from their home because she wouldn’t stop dancing, as confirmed by Edgar Allen Poe’s contemporaneous translations of French newspaper accounts of the divorce proceedings.
The startling turn of events began Thursday, shortly after the opening of the bicentennial homage to and conference on Taglioni in the ballroom of the Institute’s Hotel Gallifet, where Napoleon first encountered his nemesis Madame de Staehl. But that drama was nothing compared to what happened when Dance Insider publisher Paul Ben-Itzak began speaking about the Montmartre grave. As Ben-Itzak recalled first seeing Taglioni’s name on the cemetery map when he visited the cemetery to view Nijinsky’s grave in July 2001, DI webmistress and art director Robin Hoffman projected images of the Montmartre grave, which bears a cracked placard with the words “Marie Taglioni” and “a sa mere bien-aimee,” or “to his/her beloved mother.”
Seated in the first row of the audience was conference participant Pierre Lacotte, whose 1971 reconstruction of Filippo Taglioni’s “La Sylphide” is considered the authoritative version.
“I’m sorry but I must interrupt,” said Lacotte, who is working on a biography of the Taglionis. “It’s not her grave.”
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Celebrating 20 years as the Internet’s longest-running arts magazine and the world’s leading voice for dancers, the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager is now offering Home page ads with photos starting at just $49/month when you sign up by April 15. Contact email@example.com for more information to join Freespace Dance (above), Slippery Rock University Dance (top), and others in sponsoring the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager, for two decades the leading voice for artists.
Compagnie Burn Out in Jann Gallois’s “Quintette.” Photo by and copyright Laurent Philippe and courtesy Maison de la Danse.
Par /by Anne-Charlotte Schoepfer
Copyright 2018 Anne-Charlotte Schoepfer
(Published in French and in English, you’ll find the first paragraphs of both versions below. For the complete versions — in both languages — and more photography, subscribers please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Not already a subscriber? Subscribe with PayPal for just $29.95/year by designating your PayPal payment to email@example.com, or write us at that address to find out how to subscribe by check. Subscribers get full access to the Dance Insider & Arts Voyager’s 20-year Archive of more than 2000 exclusive reviews by 150 critics of performances and art from five continents, plus the Jill Johnston Letter.)
BRON (Rhône-Alpes), France — “Quintette”, vu le 1er mars, c’est l’histoire de cinq personnes, de cinq êtres humains qui se rapprochent, se décrochent ; s’entendent et se déchirent… Dans cette pièce de 50 minutes présentée à Pôle en Scène (Bron) dans le cadre du festival Sens Dessus Dessous de la Maison de la danse de Lyon, la jeune chorégraphe Jann Gallois a exploré toutes les facettes de l’accrochage et du décrochage par le mouvement. En fait, elle traverse le fait de laisser son égo de côté et de s’entendre ensemble ou alors bien au contraire de se mettre en avant et de tomber dans la dispute et la cacophonie totale. On passe alors par des moments très fluides et très doux à des moments très saccadés dans le corps et très bruyants par la voix….
BRON (Rhône-Alpes), France — “Quintette,” seen March 1, is the story of five people who come together, break apart, sympathize with each other and rend each other asunder. In the 50-minute piece, presented at the Pôle en Scène as part of the Sens Dessus Dessous festival organized by the Maison de la Danse in nearby Lyon, the emerging choreographer Jann Gallois explores every facet of connecting and disconnecting (in French, ‘accrochage’ and ‘décrochage’) with movement. As the dance develops, Gallois explores what happens when one abandons the ego, or, by contrast, elbows everyone else out of the way, leaving the ensemble to collapse into disaccord and complete cacophony. We thus careen between fluid and gentle passages and staccato jumps and starts punctuated with explosive vocal eruptions….