Wild. Carefree. Talented.
A vision of beauty.
The story of Isadore Duncan captivates me. Her battles with the boundaries of her era catapulted modern dance into the twentieth century. In the early 1900’s, she gained acclaim as a dancer. Isadore’s renown due more to her rejection of society’s conventions whether in dance, music, woman’s rights.
Isadore’s life story is interesting and relevant today close to a century later. Yet, it’s her death that haunts us.
The weather was crisp on that afternoon Isadore set out with her new lover. Two friends walked them to his convertible. Realizing Isadore neglected to bring a coat, a typical protest against convention, her closest female confidant, Mary Desti, insisted Isadore wear at least a scarf to keep her warm. I imagine there was minor protesting on Isadore’s part. Insistence. Then, laughing Isadore gave in. More so because of the beauty of the hand painted scarf than any other reason. It had been a gift from the Russian-born artist Roman Chatov. She wrapped the silk around her neck. A vision of elegance. The air charged with excitement. Isadore and Benoît Falchetto anxious to break free. Their future ahead of them. It’s recorded that Isadore’s last comment to Desti as she got in the car was “”Je vais à l’amour” (“I am off to love”).
At some point as the convertible sped toward their destiny, Benoît must have looked over at Isadore. Her happiness palatable. Sun shining almost as brightly as her smile. Her hair mingling with the brightly colored scarf waving in the wind. It could have happened instantaneously. The speed at which the scarf wrapped in the wheel and axle didn’t allow for time for Benoît to stop. The scarf wound tightly around Isadore’s neck, the tension flinging her from the vehicle. Some reports have it that Isadore was decapitated. Others her neck simply broken by the velocity of being flung from the Amilcar.
Simple, small decisions.
Coat / no coat.
Scarf / no scarf.
Convertible top up / top down.
And here it is. Why this story resonates still all these years later.
In Isodore we see ourselves. Simple options. Effortless choices.
It’s not the leaps, gallops or sprints to destruction that do us in. Ultimately, it is the undersized steps down an innocuous path.
Towards pain. To our mortality.
How like sin to beguiles us? Disguised as beauty. Masquerading as success.
Some call it karma. Others fate.
The sting of sin as it wraps around our throats like a bright, silk scarf. Never showing its true power or intention, until it’s far too late.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.