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Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography

3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  198 Ratings  ·  47 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, 129 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Hill and Wang
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 519)
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Feb 27, 2015 Sesana rated it really liked it
Isadora Duncan was an incredibly fascinating woman. She was an artist, completely unafraid to create in her own way. She was a radical and a free thinker, entirely ahead of her time and proud of it. And she could be somewhat flighty, or at least unconcerned with mundane things like cash flow. She did have a scandalous personal life, by late 19th century and early 20th century standards, but that was only of passing interest to me. I was far more interested in reading about her art, her philosoph ...more
Mar 26, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
This is a good book. As someone pointed out though when you are writing a biography you have to write what really happened and if it isn't exciting well what can you do.

The thing is this book is exciting and interesting in bits But other bits are confusing or boring.

Isadora Duncan was a woman ahead of her time. She believed in free love and acted on it every chance she got. She believed that a woman's body should not be tied up in corsets. And she believed and practiced what is now known as mo
Elevate Difference
Jan 10, 2009 Elevate Difference rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 26, 2013 Lilly rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 27, 2012 Josephus FromPlacitas rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 26, 2010 Lawral rated it it was amazing
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
Aimee Rogers
Feb 07, 2016 Aimee Rogers rated it did not like it
I found this graphic biography of Isadora Duncan to be confusing. Much of the graphic novel layout was difficult to follow as it didn't seem to flow from page to page or topic to topic. Also, I felt like this was more a collection of snapshots of Duncan's life rather than the complete story of her life. I have a sense of what her life and work was like, but don't feel like I really understand it after reading this graphic biography, but perhaps that is what her life was like hence the style of t ...more
Mar 24, 2015 Greg rated it liked it
Jones' drawings are really spectacular. This didn't have the power of Race to Incarcerate but she really does capture the Duncan style of dancing superbly. The pictures almost give the sense that they are dancing across the page. The story itself was interesting enough given that I knew nothing about Duncan before reading it. The word tragic doesn't even begin to capture her story but aside form that, I enjoyed learning about her life and politics.
Aug 21, 2012 M rated it liked it
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
Jan 30, 2014 Scott rated it liked it
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.
Liz Yerby
Apr 05, 2016 Liz Yerby rated it really liked it
Not life changing but pretty good, between this and superzelda and Kiki de montparnasse and the dotter of her fathers eyes, we get a really interesting look at interesting artists lives from that era. Isadora Duncan is definitely worth reading about.
sweet pea
Mar 09, 2009 sweet pea rated it it was ok
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
Nov 19, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
Sep 23, 2014 Patricia rated it liked it
I'd say 3. 5 stars. I loved the movement in the drawings. Duncan came across as passionate (if flaky). Her death seemed sudden -- as it must have in real life.

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
Sep 25, 2014 Suzanne rated it it was ok
Some beautiful images, but it reads far more like a collection of sketches than a graphic novel. The artist doesn't really match faces with their emotional intent and it's a bit distracting.
Emilia P
Mar 27, 2012 Emilia P rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
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
Dawn Rutherford
Solid biography with well suited art. Good stuff.
Feb 21, 2011 Joanna rated it really liked it
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
Mar 31, 2014 Daphne rated it liked it
She was such a fierce female!
Jo Oehrlein
May 09, 2012 Jo Oehrlein rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, dance
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
Jun 11, 2013 Tatiana rated it really liked it
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
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.
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.
Nov 06, 2014 Jessamyn rated it really liked it
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.
Michael Heneghan
Mar 07, 2013 Michael Heneghan rated it it was ok
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.
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