I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly: “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 it will 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 yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
Those were the words of Martha Graham.
Why do I dance?
No one’s asking for an explanation except myself. I ask myself a lot of questions. Why do I dance? Well, the short answer is: I thought about not dancing, and I don’t feel I can die satisfied if I never gave dance a shot. Oh the pains of an untold story within yourself… lol. If you feel like you have to do something for yourself (i.e. irrespective of if you achieve what you thought out to do or not), then you just have to do it.
I thought perhaps others might find it hard to legitimize spending so much time, energy, money, whatever else, on something seemingly superfluous such as dance. Why do I dance? Um…
I feel that there needs to be a purpose behind everything I do, as to legitimize my passions and pursuits. I tried and am still trying to see how dance might play out into some master plan to save the world. “Why must everybody conquer the world?”. I can’t see how it can be of benefit to anyone but for my own enjoyment. Some may argue that that is reason enough in itself, but I struggle to come to terms with the notion that my own happiness should be the end goal of what I do. I think happiness is a side effect that will enviably come if I pursue something worthwhile (but what is worthwhile?), but if my own happiness is the one thing that I aim for, I don’t think I will be able to reach it.
Something that helped me see value in dance (i.e., to value dance in and of itself, without justifying its ‘usefulness’) came from the introduction from a booklet written by the artistic director of Harbourfront Center in Toronto. He talked about how we, as people, do not understand ourselves. We ask questions and try to find answers, but most often then not, our answers are notions. What art provides, then, is comparable to the equal sign in an equation. It is neither the question nor the answer, but provides a link between the two. It’s our common journey. Here’s the actual text in picture format: (click to enlarge)
I can’t give a solid reason for why I dance; I’m learning that I don’t have to.
It’s like a relationship, I guess. I like being in it. I can’t project the end result, nor do I necessarily want to. I’m trying to be cautious of this sense of anxiety to improve faster. It makes me feel like I’m chasing something that is not mine to take; I feel like I’m a thief, like what I have will be taken away from me. I try to remind myself that change takes time, and I actually have my entire life to dance (i.e., if I take care of my body). I have to give myself time.
And there’s no need to figure out reasons for all of this. We can still speculate. I think simply to know that there’s some reason behind it is enough to keep me going.
Thanks for reading, hope it was helpful to some extent. Leave comments, tell you what you think.
– Chelsea 😀