2 years ago
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In October 1957 the Soviets launched Sputnik 1 into orbit, and everyone was talking about the beginning of a new era. There was was one thought, that probably crossed the mind of any dancer and dancing enthusiastic in the world: "What would it be like, to dance in the weightlessness of outer space?" Somebody told Martha that her techniques will probably fit well into "space dancing", and made her give the concept a thought. On earth, gravity is a given thing. Dancers struggle against it but also rely on it. It dominates all dancing techniques and defines the language of choreography. Dancing is based on steps because steps are actually, resisting to gravity. She always thought that there is a broader lesson to be learned from this constant force, always present in her art. You can't just will things into being because there is always resistance, a counterpoint that you have to take into consideration. But if gravity was taken away, would it make that much difference? She realized it wouldn't. There are other limitations. The structure of the body, the limited space, the existence of other objects and other dancers around you. In fact, when distilled to its very essence the matter is, what is yourself verses what is not yourself. Martha realized that she already had these insights, and indeed have built her dancing philosophy around them. The circular and expansion - contraction motions, in contrast to the up and down motions of classical ballet, and the interaction between the dancers - her dance movements were relative to the center of mass of the dancers and not of the earth. They were pushing against their internal constraints, and not against the floor. It is impossible to will things into being, but it is possible to will a way for ideas to become a reality. It was time to do that on even a larger scale.
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I love this description of Martha's dancing: not pushing against gravity or the floor but against ourselves and those we dance with. Really, as a dancer, that's a struggle and feeling I can relate to, because that's when the best dancing of my life has been done. Nice writing as always @orenshani7