Dance Quotes
for Contemplation

The dancer of the future will be one whose body and soul have grown so harmoniously together that the natural language of that soul will have become the movement of the body. The dancer will not belong to a nation but to all humanity. She will dance not in the form of a nymph, or fairy, nor coquette but in the form of woman in its greatest and purest expression. she will realize the mission of woman's body and the holiness of all its parts. Shewill dance the changing life of nature, showing how each part is transformed into the other. From all parts of her body shall shine radiant intelligence, bringing to the world the message of the thoughts and aspirations of thousands of women. She shall dance the freedom of women.
— Isadora Duncan (1877-1927)
The Dance of the Future (1903)

Let us first teach little children to breathe, to vibrate, to feel, and to become one with the general harmony and movement of nature. Let us first produce a beautiful human being, a dancing child.
— Isadora Duncan (1877-1927)
Movement Is Life (1909)

My dancing is just dancing. It is not an attempt to interpret life in a literary sense. It is the affirmation of life through movement. Its only aim is to impart the sensation of living, to energize the spectator into keener awareness of the vigor, of the mystery, the humor, the variety and the wonder of life; to send the spectator away with a fuller sense of his own potentialities and the power of realizing them, whatever the medium of his activity.
— Martha Graham (1894-1991)
Interview (1935)

I am a dancer. 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.
— Martha Graham (1894-1991)
This I Believe,“God's Athlete” (1954)

But remember that intent is everything. One does not just jump, one lifts into the air, one rises. In the same way the lifted leg of an arabesque becomes a wing, and not a mechanical leverage like a raised trap door. This is the precise difference between dancing and acrobatics. The dancer tries to express something; the acrobat merely pulls, raises, stretches and grinds. The acrobat is lost in a web of muscles; the dancer is all but invisible in projected idea.
— Agnes de Mille (1905-1993)
To a Young Dancer (1960), p. 31

Martha Graham in Praeludium

Dancing is an arrangement or pattern in space, as architecture and painting are, and employs, as they do, spatial rhythm. It is an arrangement in time, as music is, and employs time rhythm, as music does... Dancing employs rhythm in both spheres— audible and visual. It is a time-space art, and the only one.
— Agnes de Mille (1905-1993)
The Book of the Dance (1963)

The relationship between music and dance might be called a dialogue concerning silence. It is the silence that is the silent motion of the flow of time. We measure the passage of time by the motion of the stars: we see in this sidereal movement a demarcation of the measureless universe, without end in time or space. So, too, do movement and sound evoke the mystery without beginning or end. within their ordered measures are framed a portion of unending time and space.
— Vivian Fine (b. 1913)
Dance Perspective, Vol. 16 (1963)

Each art tells of this mystery with its own signs. Music speaks through symbols we hear; dance speaks to the eye. So the two sisters— one having no voice— can both speak at once, each telling us of their mysterious mother.
— Vivian Fine (b. 1913)
Dance Perspective, Vol. 16 (1963)

The Dancer believes that his art has something to say which cannot be expressed in words or in any other way than by dancing... There are times when the simple dignity of movement can fulfill the function of a volume of words. There are movements which impinge upon the nerves with a strength that is incomparable, for movement has power to stir the senses and emotions, unique in itself. This is the dancer's justification for being, and his reason for searching further for deeper aspects of his art.
— Doris Humphrey (1895-1958)

I have no desire to prove anything by my work. I have never used it as an outlet or as a means of expressing myself. I just dance.
— Fred Astaire (1899-1987)
Steps in Time (1959)

There's no thinking involved in my choreography... I don't work through images or ideas. I work through the body... If the dancer dances, which is not the same as having theories about dancing or wishing to dance or trying to dance, everything is there. When I dance, it means: this is what I am doing.
— Merce Cunningham (b. 1919)

Dancing was It. Dancing was what life was all about. If you wanted to be a dancer, you didn't just want it, you felt chosen to be one... It's a religion, a monstrous itch, a huge and illogical church. In my case, even before learning to dance, I was positive I'd been ordained to it... For a dancer, to be able to perform well, most of his waking hours must be devoted to preparing for the holy white instant of performance. Preparing you body comes first, your soul second, and your brain a relatively unimportant third.
— Paul Taylor (b. 1930)
Private Domain (1987)

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (2-23-1999)