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(May 07, 2007)
"Reincarnation" is a poetic documentary on one of the greatest American artists Isadora Duncan living through her followers at the present time.
Mysteriously, after over the century passed from the time she lived, Isadora imposes her art and philosophy on contemporary artists who are compelled to keep doing her movement and preserve her choreography, though it seems to be quite outdated.
One of the offspring of Isadora, one of her reincarnations is the founder and artistic director of "Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation" Lori Belilove. Through Lori's life and work, through the art of her students and company members, through the lines of a theatrical play conceived by Lori, the image and entire persona of Isadora Duncan comes alive.
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It opens with four sequences of not particularly attractive people saying they have never heard of Isadora Duncan. Unfortunately for much of the DVD, there is a lot of blathering from not particularly articulate or informed speakers: one dancer tells a story about her astrologer, another says she went to Barnes and Noble to buy a book (who cares?). There is an insipid scene of people buying tickets and queuing up before a performance with elevator music in the background. Isadora would have been insulted by such inanity. The only interview that was interesting was with an elderly Julia Levein, who studied with one of Isadora's original students.
Maybe about a quarter of this DVD features short bits of dancing (nothing from start to finish) and Lori Belilove teaching Isadora's technique, not enough to make it worth buying. The staged reading of excerpts from Isadora's autobiography are taken out of context (some parts of which are recognized by scholars as being untrue ramblings dictated by Isadora to a secretary) and weakened the presentation. Also, there was no critical (pro and con) appraisal of Isadora's contributions or, going back to the opening sequence, why she is largely forgotten now. This is an important issue which needs to be revisited. As are many people, Isadora Duncan was her own worst enemy. She alienated as many people as she enchanted. She ended up a parody of herself, broke, drunk, and fat. But, up to the end, she could hold an audience's attention. What was it that she had? Was it only dance or something else in addition? Was she a saint? How could she channel her energy in such a way that audiences were left hysterical with joy or grief?
I don't know if Lori Belilove is a reincarnation of Isadora or if Haley, the beautiful and vulnerable young girl who lives on a horse farm in Florida, will be a reincarnation. Anyone who knows anything about Isadora's tragic and self-destructive life, despite her artistic achievements, would not wish reincarnation upon anyone. When I heard the young girl say she wanted to be like Isadora Duncan, I wanted to exclaim, "My child, dance like Isadora, don't be like Isadora. Be yourself and don't repeat her mistakes."