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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

January 23, 1994|Sue Martin

LIFE INTO ART: Isadora Duncan and Her World edited by Doree Duncan, Carol Pratl and Cynthia Splatt, text by Cynthia Splatt (W. W. Norton: $40; 199 pp). As one of the most fascinating woman artists of this century, Isadora Duncan danced life with equal measures of strength and courage as well as impetuousness and foolishness in her bare feet and Greek togas. She is the figurehead for the birth of modern dance (as opposed to pointed shoes and tutus) as well as an exemplary feminist who pursued her dreams and ideals regardless of social condemnation or approval. There have been any number of books written about Duncan (as well as her flamboyant autobiography "My Life") but this particular work has the added advantage of dozens of photos never seen before from the Duncan family archives. And the text, wonderful in its obvious warmth toward its subject as well as its wealth of research, also focuses on the work and influence the other Duncan siblings had on Isadora and each other. (She had two brothers Augustin and Raymond and a sister Elizabeth). Ah, but it is Isadora's image: zephyr, bacchante, earth mother and tragedian that permeates the book. Born in San Francisco, she is the ultimate example of free spirit, from a city that became famous for them.

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