Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Isadora Dances

Isadora Dances

Rachel Isadora
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Penguin, 2000   ISBN: 978-0140566703

One of four children and the daughter of a very musical mother who loved to play the piano, Isadora Duncan loved to dance from a very early age. A friend of her mother’s thought that Isadora should have ballet lessons but Isadora soon decided that the formal methods practiced in the lessons did not suit her. To her they seemed unnatural and ill suited to the human form. Instead Isadora developed her own more free form style of dance which did not require the use of toe shoes and constrictive clothing.

While she was still a child Isadora began to teach her method of dance to the children in her neighborhood and later, when she was an adult she created schools which became very popular and where bare feet and simple tunics were the uniform. Before she became a teacher as an adult however, Isadora had to struggle to have her very different method of dance accepted by audiences. Women were shocked to see her perform in skimpy outfits and bare feet. Isadora was breaking many accepted traditions and yet the beauty of her performances did, in the end, win the hearts of those who saw her on stage. People could not help seeing that this graceful and lithe woman, though different, was beautiful and a joy to watch.

Rachel Isadora not only tells Isadora Duncan’s story in a compelling way which children can follow easily, but she also helps us to understand the unique qualities which made Isadora special. Rachel’s artwork perfectly compliments the expressive nature of the text which not only describes the magical and triumphant moments in Isadora’s life, but also the tragic ones.