99 Insightful Quotes about Dance by Famous Dancer/Choreographer Martha Graham
Welcome to our collection of quotes by Martha Graham. We hope you enjoy pondering them and please share widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Martha Graham
Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer. Her style, the Graham technique, reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide.
Graham danced and taught for over seventy years. She was the first dancer to perform at the White House, travel abroad as a cultural ambassador, and receive the highest civilian award of the US: the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. In her lifetime she received honors ranging from the Key to the City of Paris to Japan's Imperial Order of the Precious Crown.
She said, in the 1994 documentary The Dancer Revealed: "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."
Founded in 1926 (the same year as Graham's professional dance company), the Martha Graham School is the oldest school of dance in the United States. First located in a small studio within Carnegie Hall the school currently has two different studios in New York City.
The body is a sacred garment.
The body is a sacred garment. It's your first and last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with, and it should be treated with honor.
The past is not dead; it is not even past. People live on inner time; the moment in which a decisive thought or feeling takes place can be at any time. Timeless feelings are common to all of us.
Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.
We look at the dance to impart the sensation of living in an affirmation of life, to energize the spectator into keener awareness of the vigor, the mystery, the humor, the variety, and the wonder of life.
We look at the dance to impart the sensation of living in an affirmation of life, to energize the spectator into keener awareness of the vigor, the mystery, the humor, the variety, and the wonder of life. This is the function of the American dance.
One can always lament, you know -- but to laugh in the face of life, that's very hard. And for me the great tragedian should also be a great comedian.
A dancer must listen to his body and pay homage to it. Behind the movement lies this terrible, driving passion, this necessity. I won't settle for anything less.
I don't think in art there is ever a precedent; each moment is a new one and terrifying and threatening and bursting with hope.
There is a force, a quickness that is translated through you into action. If you block it, the world will not have it.
I never set out to create a technique. I started out on the floor to find myself, to find what the body could do, and what would give me satisfaction -- emotionally, dramatically and bodily. But I did not ever dream of establishing a technique. I still can't believe anything like that happened.
The reason dance has held such an ageless magic for the world is that it has been the symbol of the performance of living.
When you start with an idea, or something hits you, then you have to follow that through to the end, and it's the following through to the end that makes the pattern. That, for me, is choreography.
You give all your life to doing this one thing. It sounds grim, it sounds frightening -- it isn't -- it has a great gaiety at times and a great wonder.
If you feel depressed you shouldn't go out on the street because it will show on your face and you'll give it to others. Misery is a communicable disease.
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.
I use the words gods and goddesses principally, I think, to mean beautiful bodies -- bodies that are absolute instruments. And I believe in discipline, I believe in a very definite technique.
Dancers today can do anything; the technique is phenomenal. The passion and the meaning to their movement can be another thing.
I'd rather an audience like me than dislike me, but I'd rather they disliked me than be apathetic, because that is the kiss of death.
I am absorbed in the magic of movement and light. Movement never lies. It is the magic of what I call the outer space of the imagination.
I am certain that movement never lies. There is only one law of posture I have been able to discover -- the perpendicular line connecting heaven and earth.
I never thought of myself as being a genius. I don't know what genius is. I think a far better expression is a retriever, a lovely strong golden retriever that brings things back from the past, or retrieves things from our common blood memory.
I'm asked so often whether I believe in life after death. I do believe in the sanctity of life, the continuity of life and of energy. I know the anonymity of death has no appeal for me. It is the now that I must face and want to face.
In 1980, a well-meaning fundraiser came to see me and said, Miss Graham, the most powerful thing you have going for you to raise money is your respectability. I wanted to spit. Respectable! Show me any artist who wants to be respectable.
All things I do are in every woman. Every woman is Medea. Every woman is Jocasta. There comes a time when a woman is a mother to her husband. Clytemnestra is every woman when she kills.
Looking at the past is like lolling in a rocking chair. It is so relaxing and you can rock back and forth on the porch, and never go forward.
Sometimes it's blood memory... not the blood your mother and father gave you... but that which stretches back two or three thousand years.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a strange, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
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.
I believe that we learn by practice... it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which come shape of achievement, a sense of one's being, a satisfaction of spirit.
Nobody cares if you can't dance well.
Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.
In a dancer, there is a reverence for such forgotten things as the miracle of the small beautiful bones and their delicate strength.
It takes ten years, usually, to make a dancer. It takes ten years of handling the instrument, handling the material with which you are dealing, for you to know it completely.
Dance is communication, and so the great challenge is to speak clearly, beautifully and with inevitability.
I feel that the essence of dance is the expression of man -- the landscape of his soul. I hope that every dance I do reveals something of myself or some wonderful thing a human can be.
People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life.
Dancing appears glamorous, easy, delightful. But the path to 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.
Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery -- what it all means, the way the little bone near the ankle relates itself to the floor for a perfect stance, a perfect plie.
Dancing is a very living art. It is essentially of the moment, although a very old art. A dancer's art is lived while he is dancing. Nothing is left of his art except the pictures and the memories -- when his dancing days are over.
All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.
Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather to all who can read it.
The next time you look into the mirror, just look at the way the ears rest next to the head; look at the way the hairline grows; think of all the little bones in your wrist. It is a miracle. And the dance is a celebration of that miracle.
At the time I started in ballet they were dancing 'The Spirit of Champagne' on pointe, in Paris. I thought, 'I don't want to dance the spirit of champagne, I want to drink it!
You have no right to go before a public without an adequate technique, just because you feel. Anything feels -- a leaf feels, a storm feels -- what right have you to do that? You have to have speech, and it's a cultivated speech.
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.
My dancing is not an attempt to interpret life in the literary sense. It is an affirmation of life through movement.
To me, a building -- if it's beautiful -- is the love of one man, he's made it out of his love for space, materials, things like that.
Nothing is more revealing than movement.
Nothing is more revealing than movement. The body says what words cannot.
Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.
The body is your instrument in dance, but your art is outside that creature, the body.
The body is your instrument in dance, but your art is outside that creature, the body. I don't leap and jump anymore. I look at young dancers, and I am envious, more aware of what glories the body contains. But sensitivity is not made dull by age.
Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It's a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.
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. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.
Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.
Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart.
Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart. The instrument through which the dance speaks is also the instrument through which life is lived ... the human body.
I did not want to be a tree, a flower or a wave. In a dancer's body, we as audience must see ourselves, not the imitated behavior of everyday actions, not the phenomenon of nature, not exotic creatures from another planet, but something of the miracle that is a human being.