Strolling in Paris
( for Sarah Potter of Sarah Potter Writes after our conversation about Isadora)
In 2013 My daughter and I spent a hot afternoon in the cool shade of the tree lined avenues of Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. We found the graves of Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf and more, but my favourite ever since I was a young ballet student, was Isadora Duncan. She was a free spirited, unconventional romantic, who was very dramatic and somewhat self indulgent. In spite of having no real formal training, she danced her way to fame across Europe in the early 1900’s, soon becoming the darling of society and the art world. She was loved for her expressive freedom by the women of the day. In Paris she met the Singer dynasty heir. They became lovers and with his financial backing she opened several dance schools in Europe. She gave birth to two children, the older daughter was fathered by a famous set designer and the younger son was Paris Singer’s. Tragically both children drowned when the car in which they were riding with their nanny lost control and plunged into the Seine. Isadora wrote poignantly of her grief in her memoirs. Her own country of America reviled and condemned her when she married a Russian poet and embraced the communist revolution. She declared that all artists were revolutionaries. She later moved to Nice on the Riviera.
Her last words were, “adieu mes amis, je vais a la gloire!” (Farewell my friends, I am off to glory). She got into a Bugatti sports car with a handsome young Italian and moments later her signature trailing, long scarf caught in the car wheel and broke her neck. She was fifty years old. The poet Gertrude Stein, who lived in Paris, on hearing of her death sardonically remarked, “affectations can be dangerous.”
Her grave is still visited, though perhaps not as much as Jim Morrison’s. On Morrison’s you might find empty bottles and a joint laid out as tribute on his tomb stone. In front of Isadora’s plaque lie roses and dance slippers with little love notes tucked inside. She is still an inspiration and the epitome of interpretive dance style to this day.
I have other photos I will publish of the wonderful city of light. We have a friend living in Paris and our hearts are with France and the Parisians especially at this time.
I was a free man in Paris- joni mitchell