Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Isadora: A Sensational Life” as Want to Read:
Isadora: A Sensational Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Isadora: A Sensational Life

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  76 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Isadora Duncan is considered by many to be the founder of modern dance. Her name is synonymous with originality, spontaneity, drama, and sensuality. Finally, here is a biography that does justice to the life of this unforgettable woman. Never before has Isadora Duncan been so thoroughly explored. Kurth recounts her sensational life -- her many loves, her passion for her ar ...more
Hardcover, 672 pages
Published November 15th 2001 by Little Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Isadora, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Isadora

Mark Morris Mark Morris Mark Morris Mark Morris Mark Morris by Joan AcocellaBlood Memory by Martha GrahamIsadora by Peter KurthHowling Near Heaven by Marcia B. SiegelThe Ballet Lover's Companion by Zoe Anderson
Modern Dance books
3rd out of 22 books — 5 voters
West with the Night by Beryl MarkhamMy Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-NéelThe Valleys of the Assassins by Freya StarkStraight on Till Morning by Mary S. LovellEighty Days by Matthew Goodman
Trailblazing Women Adventurers
186th out of 257 books — 117 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 234)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 01, 2007 Miriam rated it really liked it
it took me a long time to read this book... months and months. I started at the beginning, but couldn't get through, so I started in the middle, then got interested so started again from the beginning, to get the background on what I had read in the middle. For me, the time in history is interesting, the art is interesting, some of the names are familiar, and it's interesting to get another perspective on the times. Isadora comes across as a rather difficult and disagreeable person, so you're no ...more
Book Riot Community
Have you heard the story of how Isadora Duncan died? I thought it was urban legend, so when Kurth’s biography of the woman who invented modern dance appeared, I had to read it to find out the truth. And the truth is even crazier than the story.

Duncan, in the early 1900s, when corsets were still all the rage and dance was ballet, period, burst onto the American and European stages. With her barley-there, Grecian-inspired flowy fabric dresses that allowed the body to breathe – and the watcher to e
The definitive Isadora Duncan biography. What more to say? Well researched and well written. The second half is harder to get through, just because it's like watching a train wreck in extra-slow motion. Still, her life is a great subject and certainly deserves such detailed documentation.
Oct 27, 2012 Lucinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sensational life of Isadora Duncan told with perfect clarity, as you admire one of the greatest dancers of her time.

Isadora was as beautiful dancing as she was a person, being one of the most remarkable individuals and talented dancers of her time, perhaps of all time. She was the matriarch and patron saint of creative self expression, by inventing her own physical language to express the spirit that touched the soul with simple but beautiful movement. She was a pioneer in the dance world,
Josh Boardman
Jun 17, 2012 Josh Boardman rated it really liked it
It took me a while, but it's finally done! The other reviewers have said that it becomes difficult to read about halfway through, because it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion-- that's absolutely right. You fall in love with the woman at the start, and as she slowly bastardizes her beliefs, you just don't want to keep reading. But you do! And by the end, you're very sad that it's over.

To Kurth's credit, I did feel like I came out the other end of this book like a long journey. Although
Todd Stockslager
Jun 09, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I was sparked to read more about Isadora Duncan based on the mini-bio in John Dos Passos' U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money (Library of America).

Bizarre woman. Passable popular biography, but really strange woman.
Feb 09, 2015 Paige rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. My fascination with Isadora continues...
Apr 10, 2008 Shaina rated it it was ok
I was never so relieved as when Isadora finally got her neck twisted like a chicken's at the very end. It was almost (ALMOST) more satisfying than when Anna Karenina was introduced to the train. I say almost only because Isadora was a real person who really got her neck snapped, and therefore I refrained from fully indulging my schadenfreude.
Deirdre Kelly
Feb 16, 2011 Deirdre Kelly rated it really liked it
This bio of the American modern dance puioneer firmly establishes Issadora Duncan as one of the great pioneering women of the arts. She profoundly infoeunced her time as can be called the mother of modernism, in general.
Jan 29, 2015 Christine rated it did not like it
Shelves: awful
Why one would write a biography that makes such an amazing and exotic life boring is beyond me. Peter Kurth manages to do this with his dull writing, I felt like I was reading a text book. A really boring one.
Mar 16, 2013 JulieT rated it it was amazing
Inspiring in so many ways. Life lived large by someone who wasn't afraid to fly her freak flag.
Jul 31, 2007 Brandy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Michelle
story of dancer, Isadora Duncan
I need to stop making Isadora jokes; they really are in poor taste
Jun 30, 2016 Ivana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read for anyone interested in dance, ballet, women rights, feminism, history ....
Dec 02, 2013 Helga rated it really liked it
Thoroughly fascinating, tragic and inspiring.
Kaitlin Lueke
Kaitlin Lueke marked it as to-read
Jun 22, 2016
Alanoud marked it as to-read
Jun 07, 2016
Amris marked it as to-read
Jun 05, 2016
Anna marked it as to-read
May 27, 2016
Kiki rated it liked it
May 22, 2016
Devorah is currently reading it
May 17, 2016
Liz rated it it was ok
Apr 17, 2016
Alexa Burks
Alexa Burks marked it as to-read
Apr 04, 2016
Doug Thomson
Doug Thomson marked it as to-read
Apr 03, 2016
Jeanette marked it as to-read
Mar 29, 2016
Jill Johnson
Jill Johnson rated it really liked it
Mar 26, 2016
Geneva Millikan
Geneva Millikan marked it as to-read
Mar 21, 2016
Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Mar 18, 2016
Karina marked it as to-read
Mar 01, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Blood Memory
  • Once a Dancer: An Autobiography
  • Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography
  • George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker
  • I Was a Dancer
  • Nureyev: The Life
  • My Life
  • Margot Fonteyn
  • Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal
  • The Pointe Book: Shoes, Training & Technique
  • Heroes And Villains: The True Story Of The Beach Boys
  • Holding On to the Air
  • Dance Anatomy
  • Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham
  • Push Comes to Shove
  • Cary Grant: The Lonely Heart
  • Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950's
  • NYC Ballet Workout
PETER KURTH is the author of "Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson," "American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson," "Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra," and "Isadora: A Sensational Life," and co-author (with Eleanor Lanahan) of "Zelda: An Intimate Portrait." His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Condé Nast Traveler, Forbes FYI, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Obser ...more
More about Peter Kurth...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »