Hopkins Lectures 2008





























Isadora Duncan Dance an Expression of Hopkins Imagery

Alice Bloch

Isadora Duncan, revolutionary dancer who rejected religion, never knew Hopkins' poetry. Yet the inspiration of her dance - the essential expressions of the human spirit, imply that sensibilities which influenced Hopkins were pervasive in the late 19th century.


Isadora Duncan, the revolutionary dancer/choreographer whose work influenced all subsequent Western concert dance, lived from 1877-1927, and would never have known Hopkins' poetry. Yet the primary inspirations for her dance-nature and the essential expressions of the human spirit, and the language she used to describe it, imply that the sensibilities which influenced Hopkins remained pervasive in the late 19 th century. While Duncan rejected religious affiliation, she said,

"For art which is not religious is not art, is mere merchandise." (Duncan, 1928, 62). One of her primary goals as a dancer was to create: "

A dance that would be a subtle translation of the light and the whiteness. So pure, so strong, that people would say: it is a soul we see moving, a soul that has reached the light and the whiteness." (Duncan, 56-57)

Further, movement inspired by nature was at the core of her technique. She wrote: "The dancer of the future will be one whose body and soul have grown so harmoniously together that the natural language of that soul will become the movement of the body.She will dance the changing life of nature, showing how each part is transformed into the other. " (Duncan, 62, 63)

Finally, the solar plexus, the wellspring and center of her movement, is located in the body between the heart and lungs, at the locus of emotion and breath. The lecture-performance will explore how some of Hopkins' imagery is realized in the dance of Isadora Duncan. It will include examples of Duncan's technique, performance of her "Water Study," (Schubert), and "Blessed Spirits," (Gluck), and a new choreography to one of Hopkins' poems. Duncan, Isadora. The Art of the Dance . Theatre Arts Books, New York. 1977. © Alice Bloch; The Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival


Links to 2008 Hopkins Festival Lectures

|| || Editing Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins || Fancy in Hopkins Poetics || Hopeful Hopkins || Dolben and Hopkins || Dancer Isadora Duncan and Hopkins Poetry || Hopkins and Water Imagery || The Dark Sonnets || Hopkins Interpretation || A Scottish Reading of Hopkins Poetry || John Henry Newman and Translation ||