ISADORA AND I
Round about 1999, I was in the passenger seat of a car. We were heading towards Glamis Castle, along a country road. Suddenly, I was no longer in the passenger seat. I was in the driver’s seat, but at the same time my consciousness was outside looking at the scene. It’s difficult to explain, but it seems the mind can really be in two places at the one time. The scene before me showed a woman in a 1920’s style car and the same style of clothing. The car was cream, with burgundy leather seating. The woman was also wearing cream (or white). She had short, bobbed, curly hair. She was upset. Or I was, as I was still also experiencing this through the woman’s eyes. The whole thing lasted about somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds. I really can’t quite remember, but it seemed like a long time. Then I was back in the passenger seat in the here and now, wondering what the heck just happened!
A few years after this incident, a friend gave me a present. It was photo frame, with a cutting from an article. The picture was of a woman dancing. I asked my friend who it was. She told me it was Isadora Duncan. “Who is Isadora Duncan?” I asked.
“You’ve never heard of Isadora Duncan?!” my friend replied, astonished. She explained that Isadora was an American dancer, whose style was unique and innovative. She taught her own style of free form dance. My friend told me I reminded her very much of this dancer, as I was also free-spirited. I may have mentioned my thoughts on dancing to my friend at some point. I can’t remember. In any case, she seemed to believe Isadora and I were very similar in nature.
From the moment I could walk, I danced. Everyone commented on it. When I was younger I was less inhibited, but it would seem I kept the babysitters entertained. I don’t really remember that. Dance lessons in those days were very expensive, but in any case I never wanted dance lessons. I couldn’t stand having to remember and follow set steps. That’s not how I dance. I dance to the beat of the music. It mirrors the soul. It’s like entering an ecstatic trance, as I would later find out is a thing. To me, it has always been natural. It epitomises the phrase “going with the flow”. During my years doing my National Certificate and Higher National Certificate in Drama and Theatre Arts, at different colleges, my dance teachers always commented on the natural rhythm I possessed. I still didn’t like dance class. When I stopped to think and remember the sequence, it affected the rhythm. I didn’t like that. My brain never seems to be able to do both. Perhaps it is a right brain left brain thing. I have no idea.
I completely forgot about the conversation with my friend and (to my shame) Isadora Duncan, and continued with my university studies and pursuits. All of these were focused around my degree subject of classics, the pagan society which I had founded there, and theatrical projects. The subjects I was most drawn to were Greek religion and magic, so it’s no surprise that several productions I was involved in were focused on classics, psychology, ancient religious beliefs, and magic.
At college, I had been the tragic Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible. At university, I played the tragic Phaedra in Hippolytus and then went on to adapting and directing. First a Roman novel by Petronius, called the Satyricon then playing Caesar’s wife, as well as directing the comedy Rinse the Blood off my Toga (ironic, considering the events I would learn years later). One of my favourite projects was Bacchae: The
Pie-Eyed Piper. I merged Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns with Euripides’ Bacchae, directed it, and was one of the Chorus of belly dancers. The play featured, as well as these curvaceous ladies, lots of different sizes and shapes of Maenads (Greek for ‘mad women’). We all danced with free and wild abandon, and not too many steps to remember! It was a pleasure to see their true nature and confidence blossom, although I always find directing a stressful experience I must admit.
In recent years, I’ve gone back to my interest in the paranormal and UFOs. With the encouragement and support of Malcolm Robinson, the founder of SPI, I agreed to run SPI Scotland on his behalf. I have always kept up with my mystical and psychic development, and recently, in meditation, I revisited the scene of the 1920s car experience. In it, I saw a woman lying on the road injured. An angel appeared and I whispered to her someone was there to help her and it would be okay. As the angel ascended with the woman in his arms, I asked his name. “Zachariel.” He replied, with glint in his eye, as though he knew something I didn’t. If you’ve never seen one, let me tell you that angels are somewhat unnerving with their non-human eyes. I later found out that Zachariel – who I’d never heard of either – is an angel of memory, as is the winged horse who had taken me on the journey.
Through SPI Scotland and SSPR, I met a couple of women who have become very good friends: Lynsey Clelland and Margaret McMahon. A few weeks ago we were at the monthly SPI Scotland book club meeting. I told them about my strange experience in the car and of the meditation. I told them at first I thought it might be a past life thing, although I don’t know if I even believe in past lives. Margaret exclaimed that it reminded her of Isadora Duncan, to which my ears pricked up. “Why?” I asked. Margaret explained that Isadora had been killed in a car accident in 1927. Her long flowing scarf caught in the wheels of a Bugatti convertible, possibly 35 or 37. Some say an Amilcar. I’d actually say the car I saw in my vision was more like a Chrysler or Rolls Royce Convertible. She met a very tragic end in this freak and horrific accident. I sat there stunned, piecing together the jigsaw as the story of Isadora unfolded. On looking at photographs of Isadora she does, indeed, look remarkably similar to the woman in my vision and meditation. Our lives, it would seem, are mirrored in several ways, not just the vision I had of a car accident (and later I found out she had a few of them). She too, was a feminist and like me enjoyed interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches in her projects. This was exactly what my talk at the Scottish UFO & Paranormal Conference was about in trying to understand profound experience and how to communicate with interdimensional beings. In fact, it was suggested to me by a member of the Traditional Cosmological Society at Edinburgh University who heard my talk that I get in touch with them, as they would definitely want to hear my ideas.
As I’ve mentioned, I have the same philosophy about dancing as Isadora Duncan did, but we also were drawn to ancient Greece. She stated that: “The Dance of the Future will have to become again a high religious art as it was with the Greeks.”
By coincidence, if there is such a thing, a short time after Isadora separated from her husband, Sergei Yesenin, he committed suicide by hanging; as did my boyfriend, Rod, in 1997. He had a similar depressive psychiatric illness as Sergei. Our relationship was not long-lasting – six months, but only a few weeks after we separated, he took his own life in a psychiatric hospital, where he hung himself. I have never been able to find out the exact details, but it was with a tie of some kind. There was an inquest, as most folk would see how obvious it is to make sure someone who is suicidal does not have anything like that in their possession. I never found out what Rod’s suicide note said, but Sergei’s goodbye poem reads:
Goodbye, my friend, goodbye.
My love, you are in my heart.
It was preordained we should part
And be reunited by and by.
Goodbye: no handshake to endure.
Let’s have no sadness – furrowed brow.
There’s nothing new in dying now
Though living is no newer.
Choking has always been a sensitive issue for me. When I was a toddler of about two years old, I choked on something, and lost consciousness. I was a gonner, if it hadn’t been for my father tipping me upside down and dislodging the blockage. I have never been able to bear choking in front of people. I have to leave the company, and have always felt upset by it, even starting to cry when it happens.
On a happier note, Isadora and I have other shared interests and pleasures. As I have said, my interest in ancient Greece lies primarily with the subject of their religion, which included ecstatic dance, as reflected in my adaptation of Euripides Bacchae.
[Isadora’s description, from My Life of their days in Greece] It was decreed to rise at sunrise..and greet the rising sun with joyous songs and dances. Afterwards we were to refresh ourselves with a modest bowl of goat’s milk. The mornings were to be devoted to teaching the inhabitants to dance and sing. They must be made to celebrate the Greek gods and give up their terrible modern costumes. The afternoons were to be spent in meditation, and the evenings given over to pagan ceremonies with appropriate music.
Margaret McMahon further added to these strange coincidences by telling me that for the first few months I was a member of the SSPR she had my name listed as Alyson Duncan, and was convinced that was what I was called! It was only after someone else had pointed out the mistake that she realised and wondered how on Earth she could have thought that. She told me she’d had to go and change all the records over to my real name!
I once visited Isadora’s grave in Pere Lachaise years ago. I did, of course, feel a sense of sadness as I stopped by her final resting place. But, this is obviously a natural reaction in a cemetery. I will no doubt go back again, and this time I will be sure to lay some flowers for this remarkable lady who met such a sad and untimely end. Her final words were initially said to be “I am off to glory!” However, her friends later admitted they were embarrassed to say they were actually “I am off to love!” as it implied she and the driver of the Bugatti, Benoît Falchetto, were leaving for a sexual liaison. I will be sure never to say either of those expressions!
Incidentally, the day Margaret, Lynsey and I were discussing all this, I was wearing a long flowing scarf – something I have quite a liking for, as Isadora did too. However, on our last outing, as I climbed into Lynsey’s car, I made sure to remove it. I’ve become a tad superstitious of wearing them in cars…
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what this means. It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that I am the reincarnation of Isadora Duncan. Others have speculated we have a similar demeanour and physique, although she was much taller. But, I am stepping back from the situation and keeping an open mind, because I’m really not convinced that I am. I’ll certainly be continuing to investigate this strange case, as I have yet to watch any films about her life or read her book. I have loved watching clips of the Isadora Duncan Dancers, though. Such free movement, and always in flowing Greek-style dresses. Wonderful! Perhaps I will discover more in the future.
I have several theories, and have kept several details out this report (Sherlock would be proud!). It’s possible that Isadora is influencing me, reaching out to someone with a similar nature and soul, someone who will be able to pass on her message and philosophy. My maternal grandmother had similar experiences (in fact, both sides of my family have pretty good psychic and spiritual awareness). If that is what it is, I hope I have helped her spirit. I hope I have managed to rinse the blood off her toga, and that her soul rests in peace, knowing she is not forgotten by any of us.
But, let’s give the final word to Isadora, and say “Bravo!” for bringing us modern dance, and standing for female equality and freedom.