Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Martha Graham

I would have missed the wonderful DVD Martha Graham Dance on Film if it were not a Criterion Collection. I was led into the amazing dance world of Martha Graham, the American pioneer dancer and choreographer. The DVD includes three short films: a documentary about her dance company with her own, Appalachian Spring and Night Journey, two complete ballets performed and choreographed by her. What struck me was the depth of human emotions expressed by her body movements. Unlike classic ballet’s soft and elegant feel, Martha’s dance is much more emotional and dramatic. As a result, the characters in her dance became lively and distinctive.

Besides the dance itself, I was also attracted by the abstract and sculptural stage design in her dances. Later I learned nearly 20 of the sets were designed by Isamu Noguchi, a famous
Japanese American artist and landscape architect.

My favorite quotes from Martha -

● Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
● Every dance is a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart.
● 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 be lost.
● 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. There is a great deal of outer space, distant from our daily lives, where I feel our imagination wanders sometimes. It will find a planet or it will not find a planet, and that is what a dancer does.

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