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Martha Graham

  • Nothing is more revealing than movement.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Virginia Stewart, ed., Modern Dance ()
  • They never raised a statue to a critic.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Agnes de Mille, Dance to the Piper ()
  • [Advice to Agnes de Mille:] Be arrogant. ... They won't respect you unless you're rude.

    • Martha Graham,
    • 1942, in Agnes de Mille, Dance to the Piper ()
  • 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. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. 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.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Agnes de Mille, Dance to the Piper ()
  • No artist is pleased. ... There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Agnes de Mille, Dance to the Piper ()
  • 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. 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. ... Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather to all who can read it.

    • Martha Graham,
    • on Edward R. Murrow's "This I Believe" ()
  • 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.

    • Martha Graham,
    • speech ()
  • Life today is nervous, sharp and zigzag. It often stops in midair.

    • Martha Graham,
    • 1929, in The New York Times ()
  • Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Arlene Croce, Afterimages ()
  • I want to make people feel intensely alive. I'd rather have them against me than indifferent.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Barbara McDowell and Hana Umlauf, Woman's Almanac ()
  • Stand up. Keep your shoulders straight. Never forget — this is where the wings grow.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Agnes de Mille, Where the Wings Grow ()
  • No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time; it is just that others are behind the times.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in John Heilpern, "The Amazing Martha," The Observer Magazine ()
  • The gesture is the thing truly expressive of the individual — as we think so will we act.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in John Heilpern, "The Amazing Martha," The Observer Magazine ()
  • 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.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in John Heilpern, "The Amazing Martha," The Observer Magazine ()
  • Pity is a corroding thing.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in The Daily Telegraph ()
  • Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery ...

    • Martha Graham,
    • in "Martha Graham Reflects on Her Art and a Life in Dance," The New York Times ()
  • To me, the only sin is mediocrity.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in "Martha Graham Reflects on Her Art and a Life in Dance," The New York Times ()
  • Dance is the hidden language of the soul.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in "Martha Graham Reflects on Her Art and a Life in Dance," The New York Times ()
  • The body says what words cannot.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in "Martha Graham Reflects on Her Art and a Life in Dance," The New York Times ()
  • 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.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Newsweek ()
  • Movement never lies.

  • ... there is only one of you in the world, just one, and if that is not fulfilled then something has been lost.

  • Dancers have more bones than most people and on the days when you work hard you are sure that you have somehow accumulated more bones than you started with.

  • ... censorship is the height of vanity.

  • 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.

  • No animal ever has an ugly body until it is domesticated. It is the same with the human body.

  • The body is a sacred garment. It's your first and your last garment; it is what you enter life in and what you depart life with, and it should be treated with honor, and with joy and with fear as well. But always, though, with blessing.

  • 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.

  • The body is shaped, disciplined, honored, and in time, trusted.

  • But art is eternal, for it reveals the inner landscape, which is the soul of man.

  • There is fatigue so great that the body cries, even in its sleep.

  • Stand up! Keep your backs straight! Remember that this is where the wings grow.

    • Martha Graham,
    • to her students, in Russell Freedman, Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life ()
  • I did not choose to be a dancer. I was chosen.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Russell Freedman, Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life ()
  • If it could be said in words, it would be; but outside of words, outside of painting, outside of sculpture, inside the body is an interior landscape which is revealed in movement.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in Russell Freedman, Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life ()
  • The secret to dancing is that it is about everything except dancing.

    • Martha Graham
  • It's not my job to look beautiful. It's my job to look interesting.

    • Martha Graham
  • Age is the acceptance of a term of years. But maturity is the glory of years.

    • Martha Graham
  • Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.

    • Martha Graham
  • Dance is the landscape of man's soul.

    • Martha Graham
  • If I could say it, I wouldn't have to dance it.

    • Martha Graham
  • What I do must be done in the sunlight of awareness.

  • Dancers are the messengers of the gods.

    • Martha Graham
  • Dance is a song of the body.

    • Martha Graham

Martha Graham, U.S. dancer, choreographer, educator

(1894 - 1991)