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Jeanne Bresciani

About the Performer

Jeanne Bresciani, M.A.,M.A.,I.M.A.,Ph.D., as the protégée of Maria Theresa Duncan, adopted daughter of Isadora, serves as Artistic Director and Director of Education for the Isadora Duncan International Institute, with affiliates worldwide, founded by Maria-Theresa Duncan and Kay Bardsley in 1977. Jeanne is recognized internationally as a solo performer, choreographer, educator and scholar of unparalleled authority in the Duncan oeuvre. Her lineage encompasses years of study with Maria-Theresa Duncan and Kay Bardsley and training and extensive performance with Hortense Kooluris and Julia Levien of the Anna and Irma Duncan lines as well as childhood preparation with Anita Zahn of the Elizabeth Duncan School.

Her performances as Duncan soloist include Lincoln Center, The British Museum, The United Nations General Assembly, Pre-Olympic Ceremonies in Korea, Greek archaeological sites, The Asahi and New Parthenon Theaters in Tokyo, Massey Hall and The Ford Theater in Canada, The Teatro Carcano and The Vignale Festival in Italy, The National Theater in Budapest, at the Delphic Stadium as Chair for the Reinstatement of the Delphic Games and most recently as sponsored by The American Embassy in Athens in “Apollo and the Muses,” a performance tour at ancient and contemporary sites with Dimitri Vassilakis and the Isadora Duncan International Institute Dancers.

In 2010 Jeanne toured in Japan under the auspices of the Japanese Olympic Committee; in Taiwan as a model of dance-theater as cultural preservation in IDII’s Woman as the Sun; and performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, where she appeared as Guest Artist in Word Dance Theater’s acclaimed Isadora ! Revolutionary. Presently, she anticipates Word Dance Theater’s premiere of Preludes: Duncan, Chopin & Sand, November 4, 2010 at The Lansburgh Theater in DC, and later at The Atlas Theater in DC in performance, restaging and direction of the 24 original masterworks by Duncan to Chopin’s Preludes never before seen in their entirety.

Among other accolades, Jeanne Bresciani has been hailed by the American press as:

  • “the foremost interpreter of Duncan’s dance in North America”
  • “the Divine in Motion”
  • “the keeper of the Duncan Flame” and
  • “the standard bearer of the Duncan tradition”
  • “a force to be reckoned with”
  • “Dynamo of the Dance”

Jeanne directs three professional programs in Isadora Duncan Studies originally established at New York University in 1987 under the aegis of Dr. Patricia Rowe and Kay Bardsley with Jeanne as Founding Director, respectively: The Certificate Program I: The Training in Technique and Choreography; The Certificate Program II: The Advanced Diploma in Performance and Choreography; and The Certificate Program in Myth, Movement and Metaphor: specializing in choreographic research – based among Tempio di danza, the Hudson Valley home of the IDII in High Falls, NY; Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY; and The Harkness Dance Center of The 92 St Y in NYC, where she directs the Isadora Programs and leads The ‘Isadora for Children’ Performing Group and The 92 Y Isadora Teen Ensemble. Jeanne recently joined distinguished faculty at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center and at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York for The 17th Annual Jung-On-The- Hudson’s, Jung for All Seasons. She is the subject of articles in Dance Magazine, Dancer Universe and Conscious Dancer Magazine, the latter featuring IDII’s Sacred Topographies: The Body and the Land program.

About the Muse

Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), Born in California by the Pacific Ocean in 1877, Duncan’s childhood provided a proximity to the power of nature as well as to the classical underpinnings of art and literature that instilled a reverence for both the ancient and the eternal in this creative genius who was to become a force for the birth of Modernism and, perhaps, the most influential dancer who has ever lived. Through the imperative of selfhood, and for the cause of Joy, Beauty, Strength and Courage, Duncan first lent both ‘creative impulse’ and ‘sense of weight’ to the rediscovery, reanimation and re-imagination of the lost birthright - the ‘Art of the Dance’.

Duncan’s family moved often, learning as they traveled across America and through the storied lands of Europe, to attune themselves to the synthesis of art and life that was to become the fountainhead of Duncan’s ‘school of life’. Drawn particularly to the myths and traditions of the Western cultural imagination, these sources infused not only her work, but her very ‘soul’ in what has been termed the ‘movement of the soul’, restoring the ancient ideal of ‘The Dance’ to centrality in human experience in a whole new genre of art – the Modern Dance.

Duncan has been termed a ‘prophet’ by generations of readers of her works and exponents of her dance.  Focused against the vaudeville, burlesque and rigid balletic forms of her time, Duncan harnessed body and soul, mind and heart to conform to the demands of consciousness, a faculty not associated in great measure with earlier forms of dance training until her strident call for – “the highest intelligence in the freest body.” For Duncan’s perspective was larger than her personal body and soul, or that of her followers – it was of archetypal dimension. Duncan wedded divine cause to human necessity lifelong, intent on the redemption of matter through the dance. She was hailed as the first ‘citizen of the world’ – not in a political but in a human sense, as when during the insurmountable grief that surrounded the death of her children in 1913, she responded with a statement in the New York Times to all those who had sent their condolatory support, wording it, “My friends have helped me realize what alone could comfort me – that all men are my brothers, all women my sisters, and all little children on this Earth my children.” In light of Duncan’s innovations and their impact on her contemporaries in the press, in the arts and among the intelligentsia of Europe, she perhaps did more for the freedom of the human body in the first half of the 20th century than any living person, shifting from a mere celebrity to a figure of iconic stature.

Excerpted and adapted from Jeanne Bresciani, Ph.D., Myth and Image in the Dance of Isadora Duncan, New York University Ph.D. dissertation. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 2000.

Special Guest Artist Workshops, Performances & Residencies throughout the year