About Raymond Duncan
He was an American dancer, artist, poet, craftsman, and philosopher, and brother of dancer Isadora Duncan.
Born in 1874 in San Francisco, the third of four children of Joseph Charles Duncan, a banker, and Mary Dora Gray, youngest daughter of Thomas Gray, a California senator (the other children were Elisabeth, Augustin, and Isadora), Raymond Duncan was drawn to the arts from an early age. In 1891, at the age of 17, he developed a theory of movement which he called kinematics, "a remarkable synthesis of the movements of labor and of daily life." He believed that the value of labor was the development of the worker, not production or earnings.
In 1898 he and his mother and siblings left America and worked for a time in London, Berlin, Athens, and Paris. In 1900 he met in Paris the German poet Gusto Graeser and was deeply impressed by his ideas of natural and simple life. Duncan's theory of movement led him to work particularly closely with his sister Isadora, a noted dancer. Duncan became particularly fond of Greece; he and his Greek wife, Penelope Sikelianos, lived in a villa outside Athens which was furnished in a historically accurate manner, with many of the furnishings handmade by Raymond, whose craftwork included ceramics, weaving, and carpentry. No one was permitted to enter the villa in modern dress, and they themselves dressed in classical Greek attire both at home and abroad (which caused some consternation in 1907 Berlin).
In 1909 Raymond and Penelope returned to the United States for a series of performances of classical Greek plays, touring Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco, Portland, and other cities. The couple also gave lectures and classes on folk music, weaving, dancing, and Greek music. They then spent several months in the Pacific Northwest with the Klamath Indians. While visiting New York in early 1910 their son Menalkas Duncan was taken to the Children's Society by the New York City when he was found on the street wearing unusual clothing (the classical attire).
In 1911 Duncan and Penelope returned to Paris and founded a school, the Akademia, at 31 Rue de Seine, which offered free courses in their specialty areas of dance, arts, and crafts; they later opened a similar school in London. Both schools were based on the idea of the Platonic Academy and both were "an open house for every new effort in theatre, literature, music and art." Duncan's ultimate goal was nothing less than a "complete technique of living" which, by synthesizing work, the arts, and physical movement, would result in the further development of man.
In addition to his artistic and creative pursuits, Duncan found time to write poetry and plays, newspapers, and editorials expounding his philosophy of "actionalism." His books, which were printed on his own printing press using a typeface that he designed himself, include La Parole est dans le désert (1920), Poemes de parole torrentielle (1927), L'Amour à Paris (1932), and Etincelles de mon enclume (1957). Duncan's work on his printing press is featured in a documentary programme made by Orson Welles, Around the World with Orson Welles: St.-Germain-des-Prés. At the age of 73, he proposed creating the city of "New Paris York" at latitude 45N, longitude 36W (in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean) as a symbol of cooperation and inter-cultural communication.
At the age of 73, he proposed creating the city of "New Paris York" at latitude 45N, longitude 36W (in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean) as a symbol of cooperation and inter-cultural communication.
In 1955 Orson Welles conducted an interview with Raymond Duncan in his academy in the television documentary St.Germain des Pres.This documentary was part of the British TV series Around the World With Orson Welles.