Chopin — Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 35, III. Marche funebre ("Funeral March")

Isadora asked her pianist, Hener Skene, to play this during a performance in Berlin in early 1913, while she improvised to the music. Reconstructed by Maria-Theresa Duncan.


Isadora Duncan

Reference: Duncan, Isadora. My Life. The Restored Edition. Introduction by Joan Acocella, Prefatory Essay by Doree Duncan. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2013. ISBN 978-0-87140-318-6 (pbk.)

I danced a creature who carries in her arms her dead, with slow, hesitating steps, towards the last resting place. I danced the descent into the grave and finally the spirit escaping from the imprisoning flesh and rising, rising towards the Light— the Resurrection.

Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck

Reference: Nahumck, Nadia Chilkovsky. Isadora Duncan: The Dances. Washington DC: The National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1994.

Isadora Duncan choreographed this dance eight years after the Tsarist massacre in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, and four years before the final overthrow of Nicholas II. It is quite likely that the city of Kiev, which Isadora was visiting when she created the dance, had become a place of dirges in which Chopin's Funeral March was frequently heard. It is unclear whether the dance materialized from a nightmare, hallucination or actual experience....

Maria-Theresa seems to have rechoreographed this dance int he late 1930s, and it was videotaped by Kay Bardsley at a much later date (1976). As in other dances, part of the dramatic effect was achieved by skillfully manipulating a large scarf, which seemed to envelop the entire body and trail along the floor. In the second part of the dance, the scarf is lowered to the floor to shape a bier, which becomes a focal point for dramatic action.


Title Date Dancers Full Dance? Notes
Common Shade July 2015 Catherine Gallant Yes
Dances by Isadora: Funeral March 2014 Patricia Adams Yes
Hortense Kooluris Memorial Tribute 2007-08-01 No
Dances by Isadora: Marche funebre 2002 Patricia Adams Yes
Spiral of Life 2000 Pamela De Fina Yes

Related items in the Archives

The San Francisco Museum of Performance and Design > Programs > Isadorables — Dec 28, 1919

The Collection of Christy Cornell-Pape > Programs > Irma Duncan — Isadora Duncan Dancers — Mar 13, 1932

The Collection of Louise Craig Gerber > Programs > Isadorables Performance

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