Being Isadora

Clarke, Suzanna (2003) Being Isadora. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Being Isadora is a story of possession. Isadora Duncan, the founder of modern dance, was an intensely creative, free-spirited woman. Her life experiences early last century were as fascinating and tragic as her achievements.

In New York in 1985, Isadora's last surviving pupil and adopted daughter, ninety-year old Anna Duncan, is searching for a way to fulfill a long held promise. Isadora wished to control the way she was remembered and had made Anna promise that any remaining film of her dancing would be destroyed. But one film survives and Anna is running out of time to find it.

A young Australian journalist, Tamsin Doyle, attends a dance class at the Isadora Duncan Studio and meets Anna, unknowingly becoming part of the quest.

Initially the stories of Isadora and Tamsin run parallel, then as Tamsin gets to know Anna, she becomes immersed in a dream world of dramatic incidents from Isadora's life. The dreams become waking experiences and she fears her will is gradually being taken over. She ends up in places - in fact other countries - that she had no intention of being, pursuing an agenda that is not her own. 

In the second part of the book, she finds herself in Russia, where Isadora lived after the Revolution. She meets and falls in love with Vladimir, the grandson of Isadora's former dance collaborator. Unable to prevent herself being possessed while visiting the school Isadora founded, Tamsin is arrested by the authorities. A Russian KGB officer has his own plans and abducts her, keeping her prisoner in a dacha outside Moscow. He shows her a film of herself dancing and then the surviving film of Isadora. The two are almost identical and a dramatic climax ensues.

Themes in the book explore the nature of memory and how it is influenced by photographic and filmic record, love and loss and the way patterns repeat in people's lives in an attempt to change outcomes.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 15797
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Brien, Donna
Keywords: Craig Edward Gordon, dance, Douglas Lord Alfred, Duse Eleonora, Duncan Anna, Duncan Isadora, Isadorables, film, Golden Dawn The, Greece, New York, Paris, Russia, Singer, Paris.
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Department: Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:49
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:38

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