Friday, 31 January 2014

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening"

As part of our intermediate modern technique at Goucher we are required to fill out a sheet of personal goals and reflection. Part of this assignment is a reflection on a famous quote by Martha Graham, who, in my eyes, is the mother of American modern dance. 
"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."

Graham's idea of vitality, life and energy suggests that there is an organic uniqueness within each of us. The way this is translated is unique to every individual. It is important that we don't disallow ourselves the opportunity to express this. No one else can experience, let alone deliver this vitality the same way. Every individual, regardless of artistic or emotional expression, is different. We all have our own stories and identities that are rooted in our upbringings, our parents, our friends and our families; which can not be recreated by anyone else. Only we can be responsible for the existence of ourselves and thus only we can be responsible for the expression of this. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


From an early age I have always been afraid to take risks. Whether this was because I was always encourged to take great care and caution or whether it was because I was simply afraid of failing I still haven't worked out. Thus risk taking has never been something that I have been particularly fond of. However throughout my first semester studying Dance at University of Roehampton, I was (to my great displeasure) encouraged to take as many risks as possible. Edwin Denby's idea that "the risk is a part of the rhythm [as] one steps out of and into balance" (Denby, 1998) has stuck with me since my orientation at Roehampton. As I later discovered in my technique classes (also to my great displeasure), Denby was correct.

So, with the advice of my lectures and my tutors I decided to take a risk. I applied to study dance abroad for the Spring semester of my second year and was placed in Goucher College in Baltimore. From my first four days here it is apparent that Goucher is unapologetic in being a private liberal arts college. Both professors and students are incredibly passionate about their teaching and learning. There is an extremely strong sense of community here amongst both students and staff, which I have found in few schools and colleges in England. Despite the great cultural, academic and personal adjustments, in these first four days Goucher has already been a hugely positive and inspiring experience.

Perhaps the rhythm of "stepping in and out of balance" is similar to the leaps we take to improve our character and broaden our academic and personal horizons. Taking risks is central in developing ourselves, regardless of the extent or size of the risk. Whether it is abandoning your inhibition and fear to throw yourself into a complex routine, or chasing a dream to the other side of the world, these risks are fundamental.

Just like the dancer who takes a risk and is consequently dangerously uncertain of their landing, catching and falling; a life and a dream with risk is extraordinarily more exciting.

Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland, US 2014