DOUBTS AND DISCLAIMERS
MARIE BONFANTI: "Isadora Duncan? … Isadora Donkey! That is not dancing, whatever enthusiasts may call it."
H. L. MENCKEN: "A mass of puerilities, without any more rational basis than golf or spiritualism. Isadora simply loved to prance around in a shift; all the rest was afterthought."
RAYNER HEPPENSTALL: "Isadora's Art was, in effect … merely an art of sexual display, and I would stress the `merely.' … If it flowered, its flowers were of nothing more substantial than the stuff of methyl flames, wavering, disappearing in the light, evanescent in the haze through which Isadora looked out on the world, and never able to achieve, or even to conceive, the peace, the stillness, into which life must subside when it will form into the round assurance of bloomed fruit."
Nice 1926 (Jean Negulesco)
"The great and the only principle on which I feel myself justified in leaning, is a constant, absolute and universal unity between form and movement, a rhythmic unity which runs through all the manifestations of nature."
SIR FREDERICK ASHTON: "I didn't think I'd like it, but I was completely captivated. … The way she used her hands and arms, the way she ran across a stage … I got an impression of enormous grace, and enormous power in her dancing. She had a wonderful way of running, in which she what I call `left herself behind,’ and you felt the breeze running through her hair and everything else. And she had the most beautiful square feet, I remember, and the most impressive hands, and she wasn't really the old camp that everyone makes her out now, she was very serious, and held the audience and held them completely.”
THE NEW AGE: "Miss Duncan has ... learned by heart the tale that the Greeks have left us, and she has followed the Attic dance from statue to bas-relief, from bas-relief to urn, from tragedy to comedy, from history to commentary. ... She has strung her beads of learning, cut and polished, on the thread of this wise-child soul of hers, so bubbling with vehement life, and every bead is a prayer, and every prayer a song."
GEORGE BALANCHINE: "I thought she was awful. I don’t understand it when people say she was a great dancer. To me it was absolutely unbelievable—a drunken, fat woman who for hours was rolling around like a pig. It was the most awful thing. … She was probably a nice juicy girl when she was young."
"Mr. B" with Gelsey Kirkland: "Ballet is Woman!"
"A false and preposterous art, in fact, outside the pale of all art."
"For those who still enjoy the [ballet] movements, for historical or choreographic or whatever other reasons, to those I answer: They see no farther than the skirts and tricots. But look—under the tricots are dancing deformed muscles. Look still farther—underneath the muscles are deformed bones. A deformed skeleton is dancing before you. … The ballet condemns itself by enforcing the deformation of the beautiful woman's body! No historical, no choreographic reasons can prevail against that!"
"The dancer of the future will have to suit the dance to the symmetry of the body."