Martha Graham

Martha Graham

Martha Graham on dance and the practice of living

I am a dancer.

I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practising dancing or to learn to live by practising 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 practise 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.
Martha Graham in her essay “I Am A Dancer”. Available in The Routledge Dance Studies Reader, edited by Alexandra Carter, (London; New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 66. Cited in part by Jamie Corson (Shoal Creek, Austin, Texas: May 20, 2010 late pm).