Strauss — An der schönen blauen Donau ("On the Beautiful Blue Danube"), Op. 314

Choreographed by Isadora Duncan circa 1905, per Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck (1994). Reconstructed by Hortense Kooluris. Peter Kurth reports Isadora first performed the waltz in Budapest, in the spring of 1902, with great success (Kurth, 2001, p. 90). By many accounts this work became an audience favorite in Isadora’s repertory.

Notes

Leigh Mitchell Hodge

Reference: Duncan, Irma. Isadora Duncan: Pioneer in the Art of Dance. New York: New York Public Library, 1959. (15 pages, reprinted from the NYPL Bulletin, May 1958.)

Her personification of the ‘Blue Danube’ is too well known to need comment other than this – that it seemed the spirit of the river itself, flowing on to the wide sea, and, though Miss Duncan has always to be coaxed into doing this, she owes it to herself to make it a fixed feature of every program she presents, for she is the river.

Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck

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

This was originally a solo dance. It was performed in the United States by Irma Duncan in 1932. The "wave movement" is prominent in the successional motion of the arms. Kooluris performed this dance at Smith College at the invitation of 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.)

One night [in Budapest], with the vision of the river flowing and rippling in the sunshine as I had seen it that morning, I sent word to the director of the orchestra, and, at the end of the performance, improvised "The Blue Danube" of Strauss. The effect was an electric shock. The whole audience sprang to their feet in such a delirium of enthusiasm that I had to repeat the waltz many times before they would behave less like mad people.

Peter Kurth

Reference: Kurth, Peter. Isadora: A Sensational Life. Little Brown, 2001. ISBN 0-316-50726-1

From The Art of the Dance, Kurth quotes: "her simple waltzing forward and back, like the oncoming and receding waves of the shore, had such an ecstasy of rhythm that audiences became frenzied with the contagion of it .... She was, in the true sense of the word, inspired, gathering within herself forces beyond the boundaries of her own or any personality, and sending them forth so that we all felt them, and were exalted by a vision of unknown worlds."

Videos

Title Date Dancers Full Dance? Notes
Duncan Dance Continuum 1995 Judith Ann Landon, Adrienne Ramm Yes
Excerpts from Movement from the Soul Lori Belilove No

Related items in the Archives

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

The Collection of Mignon Garland > Programs > Duncan Dance Congress Program — Nov 15, 1942

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

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