Friday, January 1, 2010


"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." -Martha Graham

Martha. The woman who once famously said "Our arms start from the back because they were once wings." The very same quote that I have had hanging on my dressing room spot all Rockette season this year.

I have a very vivid image myself in grade 10, my year of performing arts high school. Think, "fame" the movie, but with a way longer bus ride and in the ghetto of the city. I took two classes that year that inspired me to be a dancer, one was contemporary and the next was choreography. In my contemporary class I was forced to learn all the vocabulary of the Graham "technique", this in addition to all my regular school classes, and my nighttime dance lessons and weekend job (working making pizzas!) was very overwhelming- I can only remember fragments, even now. What I do remember is that Martha taught me as a dancer to look at my body as a separate entity and as a tool. That each movement could be broken down into its very core intent. Flick, Slap, Spin.

I love this video because she speaks about the use of gravity as a dancer. We are always trying to defeat the very thing that keeps us on the planet. We aim to jump higher, spend a longer time suspended and fight our own inevitable fall back to earth.

I do this all the time. Guilty as charged. Not only in dance but in everyday life. The sad thing is that there are very big parts of my that still wholeheartedly believe that gravity is just not for me. That everyone else around me is bound to the rules of the world-and I skip around still believing that I can fly, soar, that I am a princess, that I actually exist in a romantic comedy, that the world has to be fair to everyone else but me, and that I should only get the good stuff, the sunny days and the lighthearted feelings of love and adoration.

Graham says that we cannot deny ourselves gravity, the weigh of it all. That it isn't about pretending this powerful life force doesn't exist but accepting this downward pull, and existing...and soaring, in spite of it all.

Last night, as I stood on top of a very high building, ringing in the new year, watching my friends kiss and cuddle, and watching the fireworks in the sky... I thought about gravity. I let the weight of it all sit on my chest. The pressures I feel to be everything, to everyone, at all times. The pressures I feel to succeed, more. To gain, more. To be, more. Instead of wishing the heavy parts of me didn't exist, I let them fall to the ground for the start of a new year-

Sometimes we do not get to choose what pulls us down, we cannot deny that pull. If you are like me, you just learn to fly, in spite of it all.

Happy New Year.