Monday, May 24, 2010


Isadora Duncan was born on May 26, 1877 in San Francisco. Her favorite poet was Walt Whitman. The following is from her book "The Art of the Dance:"

"In one of his moments of prophetic love for America, Walt Whitman said, "I hear America singing," and I can imagine the mighty song that Walt heard, from the surge of the Pacific, over the plains, the Voices rising of the vast Choral of children, youths, men and women singing Democracy.

When I read this poem of Whitman's I, too, had a Vision: the Vision of America dancing a dance that would be the worthy expression of the song Walt heard when he heard America singing. This music would have a rhythm as great as the undulation, the sing or curves, of the Rocky Mountains. It would have nothing to do with the sensual tilting of the Jazz rhythm: it would be the vibration of the American soul striving upward through labour to Harmonious life. No more would this dance that I visioned have any vestige of the Fox Trot or the Charleston--rather would it be the living leap of the child springing toward the heights, toward its future accomplishment, toward a new great vision of the life that would express America.

It has often caused me to smile, but somewheat bitterly, when people have called my dancing Greek. For I count its origin in the stories which my Irish Grandmother often told us of crossing the plains with Grandfather in '49 in a covered wagon...

I often wonder where is the American composer who will hear Walt's America singing, and who will compose the true music for the American Dance... I pray you, Young American Composer, create the music for the dance that shall express the America of Walt Whitman, the America of Abraham Lincoln."

Walt Whitman would turn 191 on May 31st. We must not disappoint either Isadora or Walt. We must find, and nourish, that music.