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Products for grant FT-278632-21

Isadora Duncan and the Popularization of Race Hygiene and Eugenics in Pre-War Germany, 1902-1905
Chantal Frankenbach, University Enterprises, Inc.

Grant details:

“‘A Mere Detour through Chopin to Reach her Own Soul’: Hermann Bahr Records Isadora Duncan’s Expressive Development, 1902–1903” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “‘A Mere Detour through Chopin to Reach her Own Soul’: Hermann Bahr Records Isadora Duncan’s Expressive Development, 1902–1903”
Author: Chantal Frankenbach
Abstract: “From Greek dances on ancient vases, then suddenly to Chopin? How could she have come to this?” Thus began a 1903 review of Isadora Duncan’s new Chopin program by Austrian playwright, critic, and figurehead of the Vienna Secession, Hermann Bahr. This reflection was just one of many as Bahr chronicled Duncan’s turn from pictorial to musical inspiration. His reviews of Duncan in the Neues Wiener Tagblatt, along with transcripts of their conversations in his sketchbooks and diaries, richly detail Duncan’s early struggle to create of an abstract line in movement that could rival the directness of musical expression. Two private performances in Vienna in Feb., 1902 sparked Bahr’s interest in Duncan’s endeavor to dance an “exact, scientific line” in her pictorial evocations of Greek art. The Chopin program she presented to the Viennese public in March, 1903 thus caught Bahr off guard, causing him to reflect on the impetus for Duncan’s new approach. In this presentation, I consider Bahr’s attempt to capture the trajectory of Duncan’s development from pictorial to musical inspiration and further to explain this development to a Viennese public at once skeptical and fascinated with Duncan’s modern experiment. Duncan notoriously moved on from Chopin to Beethoven in Feb., 1904. Yet the initial turn to music as her primary material is still not well understood. This talk will focus on Bahr’s record of her early struggle to emulate musical line and the multiple modes of resistance she faced in this pioneering work.
Date: 08/04/2019
Conference Name: Isadora Duncan International Symposium - London

Isadora Duncan and Fidus: Images of Race Regeneration in Pre-War Germany (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Isadora Duncan and Fidus: Images of Race Regeneration in Pre-War Germany
Author: Chantal Frankenbach
Abstract: U.S. dancer Isadora Duncan (1877–1927) achieved her first public acclaim in Germany in 1903, setting off a storm of public debate over the virtues of her bared feet and legs. Yet the path for the widely circulated images of her exposed natural body in the German popular press had been prepared by a popular youth artist known as Fidus (1868–1948), whose drawings of chastely dancing nudes illustrated many German youth magazines and by 1903 “hung in almost every German apartment.” Also responsible for the frontispiece drawing of Duncan published in her 1903 manifesto, The Dance of the Future, Fidus was an ardent admirer of Duncan’s dancing. Many German commentators noted a connection between Fidus and Duncan’s visual aesthetics and, more importantly, the political implications for their shared visions of physical health and beauty. In this presentation, I consider couplings of Fidus and Duncan as like-minded prophets by German critics within the pre-war German body culture (Körperkultur) movement. While in 1903 Duncan had declared herself a Darwinist, she could not have foreseen the program of race regeneration the body culture movement eventually served. Fidus, however, became a zealous National Socialist and eventually dedicated his “temple art” to the promotion of Nazi ideology. Drawing on writings by Fidus and proponents of Körperkultur, I present the relationship between Duncan and Fidus as but one in a complex of threads connecting Duncan’s choreographic display of the strong, healthy, liberated body to the ideals of race purity and eugenics promoted by many of her German admirers.
Date: 10/10/2021
Conference Name: Dance Studies Association: Galvanizing Dance Studies