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BWW Dance Review: An Enlightening Night with the ISADORA DUNCAN DANCE FOUNDATION and the NIETZSCHE CIRCLE

Two very different organizations, the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation (IDDF) and the Nietzsche Circle, came together for a unique collaboration in a program entitled An Affirmation of Life: Friedrich Nietzsche, Isadora Duncan, and the Making of Modern Dance. This partnership brought about a nice blend of performances and lectures as the project sought to explore dance and its connection to philosophy.

The program opened with a lovely introduction by Lori Belilove, Founding Artistic Director and Dancer of the IDDF. Belilove, a premier interpreter, ambassador and third generation Duncan dancer, spoke about Isadora Duncan (often referred to as the Mother of Modern Dance) and the strong influence of Nietzsche on her dance and teaching philosophy. Breaking away from the strict confines of ballet, Duncan often dreamed of a different dance, "natural but not imitative, speaking in movement out of himself and out of something greater than all selves" as quoted in The Philosopher's Stone of Dancing by Isadora Duncan in 1920. This was preceded by a delightful piece called Invoking Isadora. Performed by Belilove with Geoffrey Gee on the piano, Belilove was absolutely beautiful. The movements were free and non-constricting and flowed nicely with her long blue dress.

Next was a lecture entitled The Art of Affirmation by Dr. Kimerer L. LaMothe who spoke about the comprehensive analysis of Nietzsche's dance imagery and its influence on American modern dance. Dr. LaMothe talked about how Nietzsche often was inspired while he was walking. He believed that a sedentary life is a sin against the body and that movement awakens the soul. Duncan infused this philosophy in her teaching of children to move from the power within. Dr. LaMothe also mentioned that Nietzsche was inspired by the Greek chorus and how it often draws in and invites the audience and Duncan wanted her dances to do the same.

Belilove then performed Mother, an original piece choreographed by Isadora Duncan. Unfortunately, Duncan had a lot of tragedy in her life. Grievously, she experienced the untimely death of her two young children who drowned at ages two and five. This dance invites the audience to participate in the pain and distress she felt from her loss. Dr. LaMothe then performed her own piece Mother May I. This again, played with the idea of engaging and inviting the audience in.

Dr. Yunus Tuncel also led a lecture entitled The Dionysian and Dance in Nietzsche. He talked about the aesthetic, or Dionysian (named after the Greek god Dionysus) of how we move in relation to others. We have the impulse to connect with others that we somehow lose along the way as we grow up. Duncan felt that dance is a necessity to live, an embodiment in action. The evening concluded with a final performance, Dionysian by Belilove. Seeing this dance reminded me of the importance of moving as so many people don't in today's society and how I always plan to keep moving!

What was a fantastic event! It was great to have both dancers and thinkers in the same room. It was also enlightening to hear the audience's response to the program. I know this was an experimental project, but I hope to see it continue and grow!

For more information about this and more upcoming programs, please visit their website at www.isadoraduncan.org.

Lori Belilove, Photo Credit: David Fullard

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