Lessons from Isadora : Re-Examining a Century Old Creative Process to Create New Movement and Expression

Date of Award


Document Type

MSU-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


College of the Arts


Theatre and Dance

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Lori Katterhenry

Committee Member

Maxine Steinman

Committee Member

Diann Sichel


Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) was a dance artist whose rejection of ballet and theatrical spectacle set into motion the beginnings of modern concert dance. Isadora’s interest in self-expression and use of the breath set her apart from other choreographers of the time. As a contemporary choreographer surrounded by many modern stimuli, I am drawn to Isadora’s internally focused method for creating her dances. Isadora Duncan developed a process for creating movement consisting of breathing into an area of the body known as the solar plexus and waiting for internal inspiration, without force or affected design, to move her. Working and creating in New York City I am impacted by the typical fast-paced lifestyle of a big city, but also bombarded with other external information through technology, social media, and ego-centric pressures. In an attempt to see if a change in how I approach my choreographic process would result in a change in the choreographic product, I experimented with Isadora’s internally focused, solar plexus breathing technique as the impetus for creating movement with my company. In the last year, I have embodied Isadora’s philosophy, process and repertory and wanted to experiment with her method of manifesting the breath and focusing solely on the internal response to see how her breath centered preparation would inform or even change how I generate movement and create work.


The performance video is restricted to the Montclair State University community but the PDF file of the thesis, which is located at the bottom of the screen, is available to anyone interested in reading it.

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