As a child, Bronx-born Levien saw Duncan perform at Carnegie Hall and described her initial impression of her as "a diaphanous white figure moving magically in a vast blue space." Inspired to perform Isadora's dancing, she studied with Anna Duncan, one of the six "Isadorables," and became an original member of both Anna and Irma Duncan's companies. During the 1930s and '40s she performed internationally. In 1943, Levien gave her first solo concert. The New York Times critic John Martin wrote, "She moves with great beauty and an apparently innate sense of dynamics." In the 1950s she formed the Duncan Dance Guild, which brought together teachers and students of the faith.
Although Duncan s choreography has been called improvisation, Levien's restagings and reconstructions suggest that a choreographic structure did exist. Duncan once said of her choreography, "I created it, and I can dance it, but I cannot teach it." Levien believed her observations of the movement led to her own interpretations. "No one ever imitated the teacher's movement," she said. Levien's illustrated manual, Duncan Dance: A Guide for Young People, was published in 1994.
In 1977, she and Hortense Kooluris, another third-generation Duncan dancer, founded the Isadora Duncan Commemorative Dance Company to celebrate Duncan's centenary and to revive interest in her art. Traveling across the U.S. and internationally, Levien gave workshops and lectures at institutions such as California Institute of the Arts, American Cultural Center in Paris, and The Place in London.
Levien was responsible for teaching many of today's Duncan dancers, including Adrienne Ramm and Jeanne Bresciani, original members of the centenary company; and Lori Belilove, artistic director of the resident company of the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation. Levien taught and coached Duncan technique until last year. "Julia made Duncan material accessible to young people," Belilove says. "She kept me going when I thought the material was outdated. She had a way of opening people's eyes up to the work."
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|Date:||Dec 1, 2006|
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