Scriabin — Etude, Op. 2, No. 1 (Mother)

“Mother” is part of a trilogy of dances that Duncan created around 1923 to the Etudes of Scriabin. It was revived by Irma Duncan in 1927, and restaged by Julia Levien in 1978.

Notes

Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck

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

It has been claimed that this work, which came to be known as Mother, is a dirge-like lament for Duncan's own children—or perhaps for her own weariness. The "mother" theme is a familiar one in Russian folklore, which abounds with references to feminine personifications, such as Mother Russia, Mother Volga and Baba Yaga.

The dance is a masterpiece of simplicity, reduced to a single descending line in which the dancer progresses diagonally across the stage. Sinking to the floor at last, she extends one arm in a final anguished appeal which calls to mind Duncan's forlorn note to Victor Seroff: "Think of me & play Scriabin—perhaps you will be nearer to my spirit when the body with all its material nuisance is not there. There are a few inspired moments in life & and the rest is Chipuka" (Seroff, The Real Isadora, p. 429).

Unlike Marche Slav, this dance is not hortatory in intent. It is a poetical statement of bleakness implying crushing images of human loss.

Catherine Gallant

The universal and personal images of hope, care and loss refer to both Duncan’s life and to the timeless relationship of parent and child. The movement itself pulls and heaves through the body, emphasizing the weighted approach that Duncan was taking in her choreography at the time. Like in many of Duncan’s works, the dancer represents both the mourner and mourned, the body and the spirit.

Videos

Title Date Dancers Full Dance? Notes
Common Shade July 2015 Francesca Todesco Yes
Dances by Isadora Boston: Mother 2014 Kelli Edwards Yes
Lori Belilove & The Isadora Duncan Dance Company 2013-2014 Season Highlights 2014 Lori Belilove No
Lori Belilove & The Isadora Duncan Dance Company Performance Highlights 2013 2013 Lori Belilove No
Catherine Gallant performs three Scriabin Etudes 2009 Catherine Gallant Yes
Hortense Kooluris Memorial 2007-10-01 Adrienne Ramm Yes
Isadora and the American Jewish Intelligentsia 2000 Beth Jucovy Yes
Dances by Isadora: Mother and Revolutionary 1997 Patricia Adams Yes
Duncan Dance Continuum 1995 Yes
Mother (Adrienne Ramm) 1992 Adrienne Ramm Yes
Isadora Duncan's 110th Birthday Celebration 1987 Julia Levien Yes
DFI Cunningham 1980 Yes
Isadora Duncan Repertory Dance Company perform Mother Yes

Related items in the Archives

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Photos > Julia Levien teaching Barbara Kane the Mother Etude

The Isadora Duncan Archive Collection > Programs > Isadora Duncan in the 21st Century — Jan 20, 2017

The Collection of Mignon Garland > Programs > S.F. Duncan Dancers, Hotel Nikko — 1991

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Riverside Dance Festival — Isadora Duncan Centenary Dance Company — May 26, 1977

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Duncan Dance Festival — Isadora Duncan Centenary Dance Company — 1978

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Riverside Dance Festival — Isadora Duncan Centenary Dance Company — Jan 05, 1978

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Isadora Duncan Centenary Dance Company — Jun 24, 1978

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Riverside Dance Festival — Isadora Duncan Commemorative Dance Company — Jan 24, 1979

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Isadora Duncan Commemorative Dance Company — Nov 16, 1979

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Linda Elkin — Isadora Duncan Dancers — Nov 05, 1987

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Starry Night — Barbara Kane — Dec 20, 1991

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Retrospective Isadora Duncan — 1993

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Ballroom Blitz — Barbara Kane — Isadora Duncan Dance Group, Moscow School of Music and Movement — Aug 04, 1993

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Anita Zahn Memorial Celebration — Nov 05, 1995

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > The Enduring Essence — Ligoa Duncan — Isadora Duncan Dance Group — 2004

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Artwork > Drawings of Duncan dance

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