Jeanne Bresciani

Jeanne Bresciani

The matriarch of modern dance, Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), carved out a flamboyant life, an influential career and a new artform via her flagrant disregard for the established rules of both art and society. Among the formal conventions of ballet that she rejected were the restrictive clothing, the tightly laced tutus and the pointe shoes. Her inspiration for “natural movement” having been largely derived from her study of the human form as depicted in Greek art at the British Museum and the Louvre, she adopted a flowing Grecian-style tunic and bare feet as her preferred dance costume.

Although many of the best-remembered dances that Duncan choreographed were based on themes from Greek mythology, she was also influenced by ancient Egyptian culture. That theme will be explored this weekend when Jeanne Bresciani and the Isadora Duncan International Institute Dancers visit Kaatsbaan in Tivoli. There will be two performances, one at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 and a 2:30 p.m. matinée on Sunday, May 12, of Isis to Isadora: The Ancient and Eternal Ideal in Art. Describing Duncan’s “dance revolution” as “simultaneously modern and historically reflective,” the company calls Isis to Isadora “a timeless work that showcases the primordially eternal movements and gestures often associated with Duncan’s dance.”

It may come as a surprise to some that an Isadora Duncan International Institute still exists, continuing Duncan’s legacy in an unbroken line: The school was founded in 1977 by Maria-Theresa Duncan, one of the original “Isadorables,” the favored students who became Isadora’s protégés and adopted daughters. Jeanne Bresciani, MA, IMA, PhD, was named artistic director of the troupe in 1988, and since then has created educational and performance programs worldwide at Olympic festivals in Korea and Greece, the British Museum, the New Parthenon in Tokyo, the Duncan Center in Athens and Lincoln Center. The Institute’s dancers are regular visitors to Kaatsbaan.


Mary DiSanto-Rose will be the featured guest artist at this weekend’s performances. Admission costs $30 for adults, $10 for students and children.

Isis to Isadora, Isadora Duncan International Institute Dancers, Saturday, May 11, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 12, 2:30 p.m., $30/$10, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, 120 Broadway, Tivoli; (845) 757-5106, www.kaatsbaan.org.