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SEEING THINGS invited dancers and dance aficionados (as well as mere pedestrians) to respond to this question: Some would say that dancing is the cruelest profession, all but guaranteeing grueling work, physical pain, poverty, and heartbreak. Yet the field has always been rich in aspirants willing to dedicate their lives to the art. Why?

The first group of responses was posted July 28th. Here is a second group.

Dance and music are among the most beautiful gifts humanity has been given. And when the dancer experiences what it means to phrase a movement, what possibilities of expression it contains, she will focus passionately on bringing the choreography to life. Yes, pain, obstacles, and endless work are a part of this process, but when it succeeds, the reward is catharsis. (Translated from the Danish by TT)

Why dedicate one’s life to dance and encourage others (company members and students) to do the same? Because-
. . . dance offers a high unequalled by any other experience I have known.
. . . it is the most immediate way to access every fiber of our being.
. . . the wanderer in me wants to see the world, and dancing my way around the world is a passport to living.
. . . it gives me a forum in which I can encounter others.
. . . making dances and performing dances documents all aspects of our lives, charts our past, and predicts our future.
. . . the music is there.
. . . all these costumes need someone to make them work properly.
. . . dancing is what I know how to do.
. . . my heart keeps making me do it.

Why dance? Because I realize that nothing else in the world can satisfy my need to express inner perspectives, hidden longings, and repressed desires. Creating dances is my way of presenting my thoughts three-dimensionally. Because dance is a field in which mentorship continues to thrive. Watching information move from dancer to dancer, from generation to generation, I feel I’m part of a larger tradition. This process quiets my mind and answers questions about the passage of time and the ephemeral nature of life. Because in a dance studio I can be totally present in the moment, with a focused mind and body. I can’t manage that anywhere else, no matter how often I try to meditate, burn incense sticks, or listen to tapes of the ocean! There is something fundamental about the process of dance that allows me to tap into the collective unconscious, to find calm in moments of calamity.

A last word, from MARTHA GRAHAM:
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.

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