Isadora Duncan, Dancing Rebel
Grammar school restricted her individuality so she dropped out.
Posted March 6, 2012
When one of my daughters was about six years old, she took a weekly dance class from Sulgwyn Boynton Quitzow, whose family were followers of Isadora Duncan. The family lived in a famous house in the hills of Berkeley. It had once had Greek style columns and no walls. Walls were added later. Heat came from hot water in pipes in the floors. The building had a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay and a courtyard in front. At recitals, the children wore togas and we parents made rings of flowers for their hair and garlands for them to carry as they danced around a May pole.
Several years ago I edited and illustrated a small book about her early life as a new resident of Berkeley, "Tales from This Strange Place Called BERKELEY," by Zylpha Cockrell, a pianist, wife of a professor of forestry at Cal, and mother of three sons. I knew her family since I was a teenager. She died a few years ago at 101. She wrote:
Our first introduction to the Boyntons and their Greek Temple, called "Temple of the Wings," came when friends took us to a dance recital there in the courtyard. We, who had been accustomed to viewing dance as ballet, got a real education - no fancy expensive costumes or slippers, just a simple cloth tunic billowing in the wind and bare feet. We were enchanted and kept thinking, "what in the world is this place, how did we ever land here, and who are these strange and interesting people?" We had taken our three year old with us and his first words were, "can I come here again?" Indeed he did, as did his two brothers, who were yet to be, to attend classes that were part of many Berkeley children's experiences.
On the way home we listened to quite a history, starting with Isadora Duncan and her follower, Sulgwyn Quitzow, the owner of the Temple and teacher of the classes there, who believed there were better things to do than stand over a hot stove cooking meat, potatoes, and fattening desserts. What was wrong with grabbing a handful of nuts, seeds, and delicious fruits? No work and excellent nutrition.
We give Isadora Duncan, an innovative dancer who met a tragic death, as an example of the Romantic personality in The Career Within You. Riding in an open car in Nice, she was strangled when the long scarf she was wearing got tangled in one of the car's wheels and broke her neck. Rebellious and a dreamer by nature, she was bisexual and vowed by the age of twelve not to marry. Later she bore two children by different men. Both children and their nanny drown in the Seine in an accident. She grew up mostly in Oakland and moved to London, Paris, and Moscow in her early 20's. In her last United States tour in 1922-23, in an era of concern about communism, she bared her breasts and waved a red scarf, proclaiming, "This is red! So am I!"
Other examples of Romantic Enneagram personalities are Bjork, John Lennon, Yukio Mishima, and Tennessee Williams. For more examples of famous Enneagram and MBTI types see my other blog and my Famous Types page on my web site.