Theater of Love – Staging Isadora Duncan on Equitation Field By Pamela White

While the rest of our nation’s capital planned for barbecues and fireworks, I was planning the entire day with Outlaw, a 13-year-old pampered quarter horse gelding. I hardly knew it was Independence Day in America. I thought only of Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC and the Equitation Field that would be our dance floor. Equine-friendly interactive dance movements, silent music, intuition, just me and Outlaw and the spirit of Isadora Duncan.

First, however , I had to be invited by SDG Potomac Chapter member Dawn Meadows, the Director of the Mt. Vernon Sacred Dance Choir, to the Isadora Duncan dance practicum entitled Theater of Love. Had Dawn not invited me, I would never have known the opportunity was beckoning. I would never have come up with the idea of using Isadora Duncan technique to dance on the ground with a horse. Dawn bought me there, and I was so happy to celebrate her graduation at this practicum. She received her certification in Isadora Duncan Movement Analysis  after years of study with Jeanne Brescianan. Dawn also danced her solo graduation piece at the practicum performance. She teaches her own young pupils, carrying the Duncan tradition to a whole new generation, just as Isadora planned. And she teaches adult pupils at the Workhouse Arts Center in London, Virginia.

Jeanne Bresciani, the Artistic Director of the Isadora Duncan International Institute (IDII), provides the opportunity for the certification program. She was herself selected, individually trained, and personally guided by Maria-Theresa Duncan, one of Isadora Duncan’s six adopted daughters. By proxy, Jeanne has continued educating coming generations, exuding an understanding of the spirit of Isadora’s dance that surely filters through Maria-Theresa who was selected herself – possibly the only Isadorable fully realized to the Duncan fruition through the education and dance of both the Duncan sisters.

After five uplifting days studying at Jeanne’s home in High Falls, New York, I felt confident that I could conjure Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance, to engage even Outlaw on a grassy dance floor-just the ability of a human and a horse to intuit and to translate one another’s movement from the heart to the bone and muscle – subtle unheard vibrations – both creatures to respond through the inner ear – the rhythm of the wind, the earth, and the pulsing tides of Rock Creek and the Potomac River nearby.

First an introduction – soft elbows and lilting arms leading on each side of Outlaw’s vision, inciting both sides of the equine brain. He followed my every move with first
his eye and then is whole head. Would that I had more than just my memory to record it. Skipping is definitely something that needs to be introduced carefully to a horse. But I am ready to take the time to move slowly and with exaggeration in anticipation of Outlaw’s willingness to skip with me, eventually, to understand it is fun to trot and canter with a human who skips and dances.

Shortly after I first introduced the concept of dance movement to Outlaw, I then introduced Isadora Duncan to a group of teens who were between 15 and 19 years old and happen to have landed in the child welfare system in the District of Columbia.  Although I work for the system, I am not a social worker so it was my pleasure to introduce the teens to a paraphrased snippet of a version of Sacra Conversazione that I fashioned after learning the actual work at Jeanne’s practicum.


I really admired these teens in the foster care program. They really opened themselves up to the circle and the modified technique, not having any music, not knowing anything about Isadora Duncan, never even heard of her, didn’t care about her really, and had no idea about life in America, in Europe, or in Russia in the early 1900s.

As for the teens in the five days of practicum this past June, those who had been dancing with Jeanne since they were barely toddlers, these were the remnant spirits  of thE Isadorables dancing in High Falls early summer 2009. These fluid souls created such radiance that all of us appreciated together the experience of the last night’s performance, and the graduation and certification of those who had labored with Jeanne to achieve recognition for the art of movement through Isadora’s grasp, and those who received special awards for their service to the Duncan Art. Words are just not capable of expressing the spirit or entity of emotion that I feel towards this radiance. 

That’s why dance exists.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Dance
One comment on “Theater of Love – Staging Isadora Duncan on Equitation Field By Pamela White
  1. Martha says:

    This is such an interesting experience. I wish I could have watched. Martha


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: