The Poetical Quotidian
... the nineties ...

MARTHA GRAHAM (1894-1991)
excerpt from an interview on the MacNeil Lehrer Newshour
on her 90th birthday (1984) rebroadcast on her death in 1991

"For most of this century, Martha Graham provoked the critics-- some to extremes of adulation, some to scorn. She started at the Denishawn Dance School of Los Angeles, the cradle of modern dance. She went on to create an entirely new style, from a belief that movement reveals inner emotions."

-- Robin MacNeil, The MacNeil Lehrer Newshour (1984)

"I've known about sacrifice so long, that every moment of our lives is a sacrifice of a kind. Any moment of choice is a sacrifice. The tragedy is so close to us in such tiny things, that it is just the matter of the instrument of choice.

I think each one of us has all of life in us, and it is our choice to decide what we will reveal. Some of us are not so fortunate as to be able to reveal that which is not pretty.

And I knew one woman who came back in Brooklyn to me one time, and she had evidently been crying. And she said, you will never know what you've done for me tonight, thank you, and walked out. She had seen her only child a nine year old boy killed, by a truck right in front of her, and she had not been able to cry. They took her every place, they gave her everything, they did everything, and the doctors were afraid for her. They took her to a performance of mine, she saw Lamentation, and she cried. She said, for the first time she realized that grief was universal and honorable, and she could indulge herself in it. That was for me a great gift and a great lesson.

I try to know the person I'm dancing about, or that I'm dancing, like Clytaemestra. I have to know what she had for breakfast, practically, so that I know what made her do the things she did. In all of us, of course maybe this is my father doctor speaking, how many drops of blood have gone into the making of you. How much memory is in that drop of blood. What is there and remembered, and not even remembered, sensed in some way. And it is that perhaps that I am jealous about. I'd like to feel that, again, I'd like to participate in that possession, again. Because it is possession. You know exactly what you're doing when you go on stage, or you should, or you shouldn't go on stage.

I've known people of sixteen who are absolutely suited to the rocking chair right then, and I've known people of sixty who will never sit in a rocking chair. So I make no point about saying, its amusing to be old, I think its an extreme bore in many ways. And I will fend it off as long as I can, but that's not the core of my life. The core of my life is activity, and the wonderful wonderful things that are to be seen and discovered all over again every day.

I think the teacher who delays or denies the importance of the soul or the mind, those are the people who are afraid of walking the razor's edge."

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