Liszt — Harmonies poétiques et religieuses S. 173, No. 7 Funérailles ("Funeral")

Isadora Duncan conceived the work while collaborating with Walter Rummel in Paris during 1919. The dance was later reconstructed by Maria-Theresa Duncan in 1979.


Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck

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

Maria-Theresa Duncan described this dance as an original work. She premiered it in January 1979 at the YWCA in New York to the same music used by Isadora Duncan.

The dance begins with the entrance of a solitary woman shrouded in white. Strong and assertive, she walks endlessly on a circular path and finally sinks to her knees in a mournful stillness. As she lies back, prone, the heavy shawl pulled over her body suggests that she is lying on a bier. During an interlude she mimes gestures of appeal and the cradling of an imaginary child—so typical of the Duncan style.

Toward the end of the dance, in a hypnotic whirling reminiscent of a dervish, the dancer manipulates a huge shawl as a ritual covering in the manner of certain ancient Persian and Grecian mourning rites. She wildly flails the free end of the shawl, beating the air with it until, rushing toward the audience, she suddenly drops to one knee, lowering her arms. As her hands touch the floor, the shawl billows over her head and settles over her kneeling body to shape a tombstone-like form.

More than a suggested passion is incorporated into the movement of the shawl, which is made to handle like a great cape or to billow around the body and wave overhead like monstrous flapping wings, as in measure 128-155.

From: The Collection of Barbara Kane - Three Full Length Masterworks - Maria-Theresa Duncan - Heritage Dance Company - 1979

The mourning figure at the tomb of the beloved. In her interpretation, Maria-Theresa portrays the Winged Spirit dancing upon the tomb of the poet Petrarch whose oracular voice had spoken: "Whosoever gazes with sympathy at the ruins of Antiquity, brings it to life." And the Renaissance came to be.

Related items in the Archives

The San Francisco Museum of Performance and Design > Programs > Maria-Theresa Duncan — Heritage Group — Feb 24, 1979

The Collection of Barbara Kane > Programs > Three Full Length Masterworks — Maria-Theresa Duncan — Heritage Dance Company — 1979

←Back to the repertory list