“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 time, this expression is unique.” Martha Graham
What is your dance of life? Does it resemble a rumba, waltz, cha-cha, jitter bug or improvisation?
Whatever name you give to your dance, there is only one person like you, and your life is a dance only you can do. As you dance this life, it may change, redefining who you are on the inside and who you are in the world.
As Graham suggests, we are created by an inner force that is natural and vital, but if we are to create our earthly life from it, we have to become acquainted with it. It is not always easy to look inside because we are often afraid of what we may find there,some part of ourselves we do not like.
Graham clearly looked inside as she began to create dances for her own company after leaving the Denishawn Company. The new dances were intense and emotional, as she was, taking this element to a depth never before seen in modern dance. In the beginning, some people found her work offensive, but her courage to be true to her creative self transformed and broadened modern dance.
Following Our Own Paths
We each follow our own path. Externally, it may involve working for a corporation, a hospital, a school, or creating our own business, and what we do there may be an expression of our deepest self or it may only be a place to earn money. When we can combine the two, we are most fortunate.
When I was young, my parents saw my desire to become a modern dancer as foolish. How could I possibly support myself doing that? Because of my mother’s insistence, I got the credits needed for teacher certification, and I became a teacher while pursuing dance.
As a high school teacher, I discovered I wanted to help empower those students who were not in the main stream. Looking back on that years later, I realized I was drawn to them because I did not feel I was part of the main stream, so I was not “good enough.” But when I taught them, this incredible energy within me bubbled up, and helping them empowered me as well.
I also usually danced the dancer’s life along with the teaching life. I loved the feeling of never knowing what might show up as I began to choreograph a dance because my experience had taught me that when moving or writing creatively, the most amazing and unexpected ideas could show up, ones I would never think of.
Finding Inner Peace and Vitality
The silence of creativity or meditative practices opens us to that place within where our life force can speak to us and lead us to choreograph a new life or expand the one we have to include new steps. Being with nature can also offer us a place where the outer can create peace within.
I know a group of birdwatchers. Some of them are retired, but some still work and participate in the walks that take them through the forest to observe and name our flying friends. At other times some of them also participate in slow hikes identifying trees or flowers in order to connect more deeply with nature because this connection with nature is an integral part of who they are. The dance of nature is their dance.
I know how they feel. Nature is also a place where I experience deep peace. Upon entering a forest, I almost immediately drop into a meditative state. I grew up hiking through the mountains and forests, learning to name the rocks and trees, but while the naming was not my focus, it helped me connect with their energy and beautiful presence. After I began dancing, the energy of nature stirred up new ideas for dances.
Finding Your Dance Beyond the External
While dance was a huge part of my dance of life for many years, there came a time when the physical demands of the art began to harm my body. I was frightened. Who would I be without dance? It was the core of my identity!
It became clear that I needed to go deeper. Fortunately, before I stopped teaching dance, I had learned to meditate. It became a regular practice that took me deeper into the heart of my soul, where I discovered the real source of my creativity, not only for dance, but for living.
As I began to visit non-traditional spiritual groups like Science of Mind and Unity churches, I began to learn other ways of connecting with my spirituality and growing my inner life. I learned, for example, how to release my fear so that it did not control my mind. This exploration led me to a sense of wholeness I had never known. My dance of life became deeper and richer, undefined by what I did, defined by who I was.
What Is the Core of Your Dance of Life?
Where has your dance of life taken you? How is your life force expressed? If you remove all the things you have, the titles you hold, the money and work that defines you, your political persuasion, your religious beliefs, what is at the core of your dance of life?
When we are expressing who we truly are, there is a vitality to it. We’ve all met people whose vitality surrounds them and energizes those who come near them; while their energy enlivens us, we also feel the serenity at their core. And that is a peace we all need to find in our own dance of life.
© Georganne Spruce
The Martha Graham Company
READINGS: AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT
AWAKENING TO THE HOME WITHIN
AWAKENING TO THE ONENESS WITHIN