Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie – Isadora (3 stars)

Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie – Isadora

Graphic novel that captures the grace and visceral presence of the grand dame of an entire dance movement

Capturing the effervescence and unpredictability of dancer, rule-breaker and artist Isadora Duncan is a difficult task. In this new graphic biography, Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie do an admirable job of translating a life in movement to the page. The art imbues Duncan's performances with fluid grace and manages to eschew the irritating tendency towards tweeness sometimes seen in books about dancers.

Oubrerie's art is expressive and wild where it needs to be and the method of drawing and painting relates well to not only the events, but also the time period depicted. His Isadora is wide-eyed with a naivety that captures her idealism and prescience. It also grates slightly, when set against her mental rigour, iron will and life experiences.

The exploration of inspiration, burgeoning sexuality and philosophy during Duncan's influential years exploring Europe show the reader a woman coming into herself, and creating a personal belief system and mantra that would allow her to become the 'mother of modern dance'.

The book ends with the tragedy that snatches a visceral presence from the world in a cruelly arbitrary way (her flowing scarf tangled in the wheels of the racing car she was riding in). Here, it is handled with a grace that reminds the reader that the avant garde artist and grand dame of an entire dance movement is far, far more than a punch line.

Out now on SelfMadeHero.

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