Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), artist and passionate woman has upset the dance of the twentieth century and laid the foundations of modern dance. Barefoot and in transparent tunic, she stripped it of its points and its tutus. She brought dance back in line with nature and gave it a freedom that was in keeping with the spirit of her time. Her life became a legend, which in 1914 made a stop in Deauville for a few months.

As Sonia Schoonejans, a dance historian, points out, "for Isadora Duncan, dance was not a simple aesthetic fact but a means of changing life. The stay she made in Deauville between August and November 1914, beyond the anecdotal, allowed her to rebuild herself. It was essential to recover from an immense grief and to find the energy for new projects. A few months earlier, her two children, Deidre, 6 years old, and Patrick, 3 years old, had drowned, trapped with their nanny, in the car that had slipped into the Seine. A third child, born in the spring of 1914, had also died.

When Isadora Duncan arrived in August 1914 at the Normandy in Deauville, war had just been declared. During the summer of 1914, the hotel, since the order of general mobilization was promulgated on August1, housed the personalities who had decided to stay there, and others who were fleeing Paris. Isadora Duncan met in the halls, the singer Marthe Chenal, the aviator Santos-Dumont, Robert de Montesquiou and Sacha Guitry. She then rented a furnished villa called Black and White.

Suffering from long bouts of languor, she called a doctor from Deauville to her bedside. He was very moved by her distress and soon expressed his affection for her, and then a passionate love, which was to be an excellent comfort for her. She sometimes accompanied him on his nightly visits to the Casino de Deauville, which was then transformed into a military hospital.

The newfound affection helps her to rebuild her life at a time when the regular arrival of " wounded and dying " gives Deauville a strange atmosphere. But too far away from her life, she quickly went back to New York to join her dance school.

For more information:

Isadora Duncan, My Life, (1927) reedition Folio-Gallimard (1987)

Isadora Duncan the dance of the future editions Complex (2003)


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