Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography
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Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  153 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Myth and controversy still swirl around the dramatic figure of Isadora Duncan. The pioneering modern dancer emerged from provincial nineteenth-century America to captivate the cultural capitals of Europe, reinvent dance as a fine art, and leave a trail of scandals in her wake. From her unconventional California girlhood to her tragic death on the French Riviera fifty years...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Hill and Wang
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Elevate Difference
To articulate the intricate story of a maverick, any real maverick, is no easy feat. And to tell the story of Isadora Duncan would be hard for even the most ambitious of biographers, but Sabrina Jones chose a good medium in which to attempt it. In her debut graphic biography, Jones captures Duncan's dramatic story in an impressive fashion. Who knew plain black and white illustrations could come so alive, so full of movement and feeling?

Romance, politics, tragedy, and art twist and whirl togethe...more
Lilly G
Loved this. I thought it was cleverly written and informative, and it was a fascinating format to learn about someone I hadn't known much about. Looking forward to seeing more by Jones.
Josephus FromPlacitas
I happen to be reading this the day after I finished the Emma Goldman comics biography Dangerous Woman by Sharon Rudahl and found that Isadora did a much, much better job of performing a similar task: telling the tale of an iconoclastic, turn-of-the-century luminary in comics format.

It's an especially funny comparison because I'm so much more interested in Emma--a nails-hard radical forged in the fires of sweatshops, prisons, and international police repression on three continents--than I'm int...more
I came to this book knowing a few things about Isadora Duncan, namely that she spawned the "Isadorables;" that her style of dance, which was supposed to be free of training and structure, evolved into a new form of dance altogether in which students can now train and learn choreography that is passed down from body to body much in the way that ballet, which she despised for its "rigidness," has been for centuries; and that she was kind of a boozer. Basically, I know the kinds of things they tell...more
This was good. I met Sabrina Jones when she was a guest artist for my MFA program—she’d mentioned that she was writing this book, but I’d completely forgotten until I opened the back cover and saw her picture. Anyway, a nice introduction to the life and art of Isadora Duncan. Most of the biographical details come directly from Duncan’s autobiography, but, interestingly, Jones’ graphic novel mentions in the beginning that some of Duncan’s letters belie the portrait that she paints of herself in h...more
In chronicling the life of the so-called "barefoot dancer" Isadora Duncan, fact and fiction must be unraveled to truly decipher Duncan's life. Sabrina Jones allows the fantasy and truth to intermingle ever so slightly, providing a captivating portrait of one of the earliest American dancing sensations. Eschewing traditional ballet practices, Duncan crafts her own legacy based on a whirlwind personality of freedom, constantly seeking to teach the meaning of creative expression to her audiences. M...more
It sounds like it was hard going to get a real grasp on Isadora Duncan, not through any fault of the author but because she was something of an enigma. (What a shame that no video of her exists!) Still, Jones did an admirable job of bringing her to life on the page -- Duncan is a whirling, dancing free spirit in this interpretation, spinning across the pages with little regard for how her needs might affect others. It's not an unflattering portrayal, though; we see Duncan as selfish and stubborn...more
This graphic biography of Isadora gives something of an overview of her life, but doesn't do it in a way to stir much interest. In keeping with the unexciting level of appeal, the artwork achieves adequacy but not nuch beyond that. Still, there's some humor to be found here - you'll get more than one snicker out of Isadora's and her friends' melodramatic pretensions. Or at least I did.
sweet pea
although i love graphic memoir, i'm still not sold on graphic biography. of any historical figure, Isadora Duncan seems most suited to the form. and yet, this biography didn't work for me. this whirlwind tour of her life gave vague insight into Isadora's history. the thought balloons and the way the story was told, if anything, made me have less respect for someone i idolize. even though Isadora's vision was articulated, she came across as flighty, flitting across continents at her whim with vag...more
A lively portrait of an iconoclast dancer. Jones does a good job introducing an out of the box personality whose life story has multiple variations to young readers.

Jones books explores Duncan's complex paradoxes: her progressive impulses alongside her traditional ones, her sympathy for downtrodden rubbing up against her sense of her own self-importance. The illustrations are simple black and white drawings that flow across the pages and between the panels. Duncan can literally cannot be contain...more
While I loved the art and lettering in this graphic biography, the story itself of the larger than life dancer was rather...sanitized. Far more illustrated time line than compelling life story, this title would have been much better had the author focused in on one or two of the many juicy bits of Duncan's life instead of giving the reader an all too brisk overview that hardly did justice to the rebel dancer's unapologetic Bohemian lifestyle. One timely talking point--during a concert at Symphon...more

Like dancing? Isadora Duncan is the reason we dance more freely today and not in strictly "proper' dancing from the 1800's

Set at the turn of the 20th century, the story covers many social norms and expectations of women at the time.

The strength of this book is the begining- which challeneges the reader to remove presentist views and consider how revolutionary Isadora's actions were. Sleeping around, wearing what you choose, and following your passion isn't big deal today- but at the time she li...more
Emilia P
What a weirdo!
This book was a fairly light, and surprisingly comprehensive look through the Duncan's life filled with opening dance schools in foreign lands, celebrating the spirit of the ancient Greeks through movement, proto-Janet Jackson breast-bearing (ok, I know that's not what it was, but still)... and the inadvertently hilarious end she came to. No, it wasn't funny, it was very tragic. But I got a nice sense of both the legend and the person from this -- sort of strictly organized into ch...more
As a dancer, I've absorbed a lot about Isadora Duncan over the years, but this was a good way to get a brief overview of her life. The graphic novel format was a fun way to tell both sides of her story: her tragedy-ridden personal life, and her inspiring art-making.
Dawn Rutherford
Solid biography with well suited art. Good stuff.
This was fairly interesting - I didn't know much about Isadora Duncan before reading it. But the style was super choppy, so it flitted through time quickly without giving much meat at any one point. Someone said it was more of an illustrated timeline than a biography, and I agree with that.
This a wonderful graphic biography of dance legend Isadora Duncan. Pulling from various sources, including letters, recollections of her students, and her own memoirs, it draws Isadora's life as it unfolds across the pages.

The movement of her dance is set off wonderfully, and the emphasis on her bare feet is terrific. I love the pictures of her holding the red tunic aloft in Boston, it's thrilling to see, even all these years later. This is a perfect medium for the story, which seems to come al...more
She was such a fierce female!
Jo Oehrlein
This is a graphic (black & white) biography of Isadora Duncan, the originator of modern dance.

While the graphic nature will make it more appealing people who don't want to read traditional biographies, it's not necessarily for young kids because the biography doesn't sugar coat Isadora's life. She says she doesn't believe in marriage and has a string of affairs, two of whom she has children with. (Her children all die.)

The graphics do a good job of portraying Isadora's flowing costumes and h...more
This was a great read on a great woman and fantastic cutting edge artist from the early 1900s, whom I knew nothing about until I read this graphic novel. Isadora inspires with every overthrown idea of tradition, of women's roles, of status quo, then she uses her wealth and fame to help others. Choppy but evocative drawing and very nicely done biography. Isadora Duncan is a true inspiration to women and artists and humans of all ages. Highly recommended!
Carly Thompson
Black and white adult graphic biography of the famous dancer Isadora Duncan. Covering her childhood through her death--this book tells of her lovers, family, and revolutionary art. The flowing lines of Jones's illustrations convey the movement of the dance. Isadora is the main focus of the panels--backgrounds are not heavily detailed and there is a fair amount of text. Enjoyable biography of a famous woman
Isadora Duncan changed the world of dance when she created her own style. She lived a life full of romance and adventure which spanned across the world. The book gives a brief overview of her world matched with beautiful illustrations. A beautiful telling of a fascinating life.
Michael Heneghan
Just breezed through this pretty average graphic biography. The story was a rush through the life of this modern American dancer at the dawn of the 20th century. She led a life crisscrossed European dance halls of great esteem.
Sabrina Jones did a beautiful job with this book. The drawings are full of movement. Isadora is drawn so that she becomes a recognizable character with a face full of personality- not just a stiff portrait taken from an old photo.
Laura Craner
This was interesting. The form definitely fits the subject matter; it's always nice when those match. After reading _Abinadi_ I wanted something completely different and this was it. It was fun. Didn't change my life or anything, but fun.
Apr 12, 2011 Sabrina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sabrina by: Paul Buhle
Shelves: my-work
I spent two years researching, writing and illustrating this book, and given the subject, I could have happily spent more. I was being conscientious about my publisher's deadline, something Isadora never would have done.
Very interesting. I know nothing about the world of dance, but I really enjoyed this book. The ups and downs of Duncan's life and her ideas that were so revolutionary to her time period. I think may have to find a biograpy.
What a woman! So glad I had an opportunity to learn about such an inspirational, strong force-to-be-reckoned-with. The illustrations are beautiful too. Highly recommended.
Very charming graphic novel biography! The illustrations are well done, and the layout was well crafted to suit the expressive dance of the subject herself, Isadora.
Fine. Might have been more grabbing in color. I got it for my classroom, read it, and thought, "okay...". My students are a bit young for it, I think (6th grade).
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