Beliefnet
Flight of the Soul

Dance and Activism as a loving movement. No artist of the 20th century bridged so many of the arts like Martha Graham. She was and remains a trendsetter, an inspiration to the psyche of performance and artistry and connection. She created pathways of understanding that transcended her main vocation – that of a dancer and choreographer.

Everytime I see and hear Martha Graham these words rise in my heart.

No compromise. Do not give way. Move forward. Express. Connect.

Her own words “Do what you know. experiment with movement. until you find with some secret language that speaks to your body, your heart” to me is the fullest epression of the soul’s desire to express itself in harmony with the world. Martha Graham choreographed and danced for 7 decades. She had many firsts, the first dancer to dance at the white house, and it goes on and on.

 

Nobody broke through the ground of their being like Martha Graham. She shared her story through movement, through expression, through psychology. Hers was majesty in action that never failed to enlighten.

As choreographer Alonzo King shared “When I see a great dance, I see fearlessness and selflessness. I see Ghandi, Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman, I see sacrifice and unfailing generosity. I see intelligence and intuition. I see humor and joy. I hear a voice guiding me ‘when you fall down, get up. You are able to do more than you think. When you feel you’ve given all you’ve got – give more.’ I see how life can be lived.”

Martha Graham would describe her work that came out of a contraction, that impulse of a life blood of movement “the plunging force of God that strikes through me.”

As a tribute to all of us who continue to pursue our passions, living in our light and expressing our being-ness with a divinely sacred sense of belonging and connection. I share ie. ‘reprint’ an article written by Martha Graham.

I am a Dancer
By Martha Graham

I am a dancer. I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.

To practice means to perform, in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.

I think the reason dance has held such an ageless magic for the world is that it has been the symbol of the performance of living. Even as I write, time has begun to make today yesterday-the past. The most brilliant scientific discoveries will in time change and perhaps grow obsolete, as new scientific manifestations emerge. But art is eternal, for it reveals the inner landscape, which is the soul of man.

Many times I hear the phrase “the dance of life.” It is an expression that touches me deeply, for the instrument through which the dance speaks is also the instrument through which life is lived-the human body. It is the instrument by which all the primaries of life are made manifest. It holds in its memory all matters of life and death and love. Dancing appears glamorous, easy, delightful. But the path to the paradise of the achievement is not easier than any other. There is fatigue so great that the body cries, even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration, there are daily small deaths. Then I need all the comfort that practice has stored in my memory, a tenacity of faith.

It takes about ten years to make a mature dancer. The training is twofold. First comes the study and practice of the craft which is the school where you are working in order to strengthen the muscular structure of the body. The body is shaped, disciplined, honored, and in time, trusted. The movement becomes clean, precise, eloquent, truthful. Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it. This might be called the law of the dancer’s life-the law which governs its outer aspects.

Then comes the cultivation of the being from which whatever you have to say comes. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere, it comes out of a great curiosity. The main thing, of course, always is the fact that there is only one of you in the world, just one, and if that is not fulfilled then something has been lost. Ambition is not enough; necessity is everything. It is through this that the legends of the soul’s journey are retold with all their tragedy and their bitterness and sweetness of living. It is at this point that the weep of life catches up with the mere personality of the performer, and while the individual becomes greater, the personal becomes less personal. And there is grace. I mean the grace resulting from faith — faith in life, in love, in people, in the act of dancing. All this is necessary to any performance in life which is magnetic, powerful, rich in meaning.

In a dancer, there is a reverence for such forgotten things as the miracle of the small beautiful bones and their delicate strength. In a thinker, there is a reverence for the beauty of the alert and directed and lucid mind. In all of us who perform there is an awareness of the smile which is part of the equipment, or gift, of the acrobat. We have all walked the high wire of circumstance at times. We recognize the gravity pull of the earth as he does. The smile is there because he is practicing living at that instant of danger. He does not choose to fall.

At times I fear walking that tightrope. I fear the venture into the unknown. But that is part of the act of creating and the act of performing. That is what a dancer does.”

Quotes from Martha Graham In Performance

Check out her legacy at http://marthagraham.org/company/

“It is through this that the legends of the soul’s journey are retold with all their tragedy and their bitterness and sweetness of living.”

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