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Modern dancer to portray the life of Isadora Duncan

The life of modern-dance pioneer/philosopher and voluptuary Isadora Duncan intrigued Loa Mangelson Clawson.

"I researched her notes, letters, biographies and autobiography," said Clawson, a professor of modern dance at the University of Utah. "I began to organize her writings according to what was going on in the world during her lifetime - World War I, women's suffrage and things like that."Clawson will bring five years of research to the upper gallery of Kingsbury Hall, Oct. 13 and 14, for a one-woman dance/drama performance called "Done Into Dance," based on the life of Duncan.

The performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling Lisette Miles at the U. Department of Dance at (801) 581-5942. Prices are $8 for students and $10 for the general public. Clawson will also present the show at 2 p.m., on Oct. 12, as a fund-raiser for the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. The price for that performance is $35. Seating is limited.

"I chose the (Kingsbury Hall) gallery because Isadora not only performed on large stages through-out her life, but also performed at parlor parties to entertain the wealthy who supported the arts," Clawson explained. "And there's also the fact that the black and white photos in the gallery were taken of artists who were emerging during her time."

Clawson got to know Duncan by reading books about the dancer's life.

"I wanted to read anything I could get my hands on," Clawson said. "She was an interesting woman, and wasn't afraid to speak her mind and do things that were so out of the ordinary during her time (in the early 1900s).

"She was outspoken in women's issues and philosophy," Clawson said. "She gave speeches and had a large following.

"But she also donated her school to the French during World War I so they could convert it into a hospital for the wounded," Clawson said. "She died a Russian citizen in 1927, and therefore was never allowed to enter the United States."

Clawson said she was fascinated with what the creative process would be for a one-woman show.

"I had originally wanted to do a performance that spotlighted other female dancers of the 20th century, such as Ginger Rogers, Martha Graham and Josephine Baker," Clawson said. "But after I began researching Isadora, I realized there was too much information to do each artist justice. So I focused on one."

Clawson's first script was about three hours long.

"I had to cut, edit and say more with less words and actions," Clawson said. "And I had to pace the project."

The finished work is actually comprised of dance and spoken narration. The music to which Clawson will dance to includes works from Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart and Tchaikovsky - the same composers Duncan looked to for inspiration.

"I didn't want to restage any of her works per se," said Clawson. "I was more interested in emulating her character."

To accomplish that, Clawson recruited costume designer Steve Rasmussen and Sandra Shatwell, from the U. theater department.

"They were wonderful and helped me give the character life," Clawson said.