The Art and Technique of Isadora Duncan program offers participants the celebratory exploration of relationship to peers, classical music, and the natural world. BCF founder and director Dicki Johnson Macy, BC-DMT, LMHC, is a lineage holder in this dance heritage and has been teaching for 30 years.
Weekly Duncan Dance classes are offered at the Dance Complex (536 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA) for students aged 18 months to adult. Mothers of 8-11 year olds may dance along in their child’s class for free. Mothers of teens may pay a reduced rate to join their child’s class.
Toddlers and preschoolers begin with our Rainbowdance Enrichment Programs. A structured sequence of sound and gesture-integrated movement activities encourages secure attachment to caregivers and peers, while providing a soothing and energizing experience of engaging with the natural world. Having established a sense of harmony and connection to self, peers, and the inherent beauty of nature, children ages 5-11 move forward to explore emotional intention as is it manifested through music and movement. Themes include: Leadership and Following, Solitude and Affiliation, Transition, Nature as Teacher, Myth-Based Dances, and Improvisation. Our class for teens and adults builds upon these themes, offering an hour of respite and rejuvenation for mind and body.
A Special Note from our Director on Duncan’s Teachings:
We love many things about Isadora Duncan’s teaching. She inspires us to celebrate our unique beauty, to honor our strength, to find joy in our freedom. Her dance gives us access to these attributes. We value them in ourselves and pass them on to our children. Her lessons always reflect the value she places upon Nature as her inspiration. She honors the lessons of all its life forms, and celebrates our shared relationships. The experience of being part of this greater reality minimizes our perception of being alone or isolated. In difficult times such as those we now live, there is a tendency to experience this sense of isolation. Nature also reminds us that diversity is her norm. All life forms are interdependent; All are valued. She sought to establish a school for life. Her vision, a century ago, has foresight:
“Study the movement of the earth, the movement of plants and trees, of animals, the movement of winds and waves, and then study the movement of a child. You will find that the movement of all natural things works within harmonious expression and this is true in the first years of a child’s life; then very soon the movement is imposed from without by wrong theories of education, and the child soon loses its natural spontaneous life and its power of expressing that in movement” (Duncan, 1928, p.77)
Isadora referenced the ancient Greeks. It was not Greek dancing that she mimicked, but rather their reverence for nature as their inspiration for art. We have enjoyed dancing the Greek Myths, as Isadora suggested. This year (2020) we will amplify the sources of our dance stories to include Native American and African legends. The value in this addition, beyond its obvious cultural inclusion, is the similarity that these traditions have with Isadora’s in regard to nature. I have included here the words of my teacher and college advisor, Joseph Bruchac. He is a famed Native American story teller and scholar. His words, I believe, reflect this parallel:
“Most native people of North America perceive the natural state of the world as a state of balance. We are part of a great circle and we are not more important than plants or animals or the rocks. Animals and plants are equal to humans; they are described as ancestors and stories of animals becoming people, people becoming animals are common. Animals, whether they are connected to people or not, have their own families and traditions. And along with human beings they are part of a world that is meant to be in balance.” (Bruchac, 1992).
And from another of his books which provides us with a vision for working with our children:
“Because Indians see themselves as part of nature, and not apart from it, their stories used natural images to teach both about relationships between people and between people and the earth. To the Indians, what was done to a tree or rock was done to a brother or sister. This outlook has important implications for environmental problems and solutions. Native Americans emphasize a close relationship with nature versus control over the natural world.” (Caduto & Bruchac, 1997).
So let us move forward together, through our stories as we honor them, as we dance them. Let us reclaim the harmony that is our collective birthright.
Dicki Johnson Macy
Bruchac, J. (1992). Native American animal stories. Golden, CO. Fulcrum Publishing.
Caduto, M., Bruchac, J. (1997). Keepers of the earth: Native American stories and environmental activities for children. Golden, CO. Fulcrum Publishing.
Duncan, I (1928). The art of dance. (ed. S. Cheney). New York. Theatre Arts Books.