Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It's the morning of the first work in progress showing, so it seems past time for me to weigh in:

Martha Graham is touted as The Mother of Modern Dance, she has a wide net of accomplishments and accolades trailing the legacy of her long art-making life. If you want to google her, you can learn all about them, and you can also see photographs of her tremendously intense face in grisly, dramatic poses... It's worth the effort. This powerhouse woman danced and choreographed for more than seventy years.

For me, Martha has a different flavor than The Mother of Modern Dance, she is the woman whose long arm reaches across the span of a century just to nail my life against the wall. All my successes and failures supernaturally detected and commented on by that keen director's eye. Her words have been running on a loop in my head for the past twenty-four hours, and they seem a great notion to carry with you into your first showing.

Martha, telling it like it is:

According to Agnes de Mille: "I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. ... I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly,"

'"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others"'
from The Life and Work of Martha Graham
"I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It's permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable."

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