Martha Graham Quotes

Her quotes deeply reflect her connection to life, the body and the soul.


The body says what words cannot.
Martha Graham

It's what I always wanted to do: to show the laughter, the fun – the joy of dance.
Martha Graham

No artist is ahead of his time. He is time; the others are just behind the times.
Martha Graham

Dancing appears glamorous, easy, delightful. But the path to paradise of the achievement is not easier than any other. There is fatigue so great that the body cries, even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration, there are daily small deaths.
Martha Graham

Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather to all who can read it.
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.... 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

The next time you look into the mirror, just look at the way the ears rest next to the head; look at the way the hairline grows; think of all the little bones in your wrist. It is a miracle. And the dance is a celebration of that miracle.
Martha Graham

In a dancer, there is a reverence for such forgotten things as the miracle of the small beautiful bones and their delicate strength.
Martha Graham

A building – if it's beautiful – is the love of one man, he's made it out of his love for space, materials, things like that.
Martha Graham

A dancer, more than any other human being, dies two deaths: the first, the physical when the powerfully trained body will no longer respond as you would wish. After all, I choreographed for myself. I never choreographed what I could not do. I changed steps in Medea and other ballets to accommodate the change. But I knew. And it haunted me. I only wanted to dance.
Martha Graham

A dancer must listen to his body and pay homage to it. Behind the movement lies this terrible, driving passion, this necessity. I won't settle for anything less.
Martha Graham

Dance is communication, and so the great challenge is to speak clearly, beautifully, and with inevitability.
Martha Graham

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
Martha Graham

Dancers today can do anything; the technique is phenomenal. The passion and the meaning to their movement can be another thing.
Martha Graham

Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery.
Martha Graham

Every dance is kind of a fever chart, a graph of the heart.
Martha Graham

Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.
Martha Graham

First we have to believe, and then we believe.
Martha Graham

Freedom to a dancer means discipline. That is what technique is for – liberation.
Martha Graham

Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.
Martha Graham

I did not want to be a tree, a flower or a wave. In a dancer's body, we as audience must see ourselves, not the imitated behavior of everyday actions, not the phenomenon of nature, not exotic creatures from another planet, but something of the miracle that is a human being.
Martha Graham

If I can't dance, I don't care if my dances are ever done again!
Martha Graham

It is difficult to see the great dance effects as they happen, to see them accurately, catch them fast in memory. It is even more difficult to verbalize them for critical discussion. The particular essence of a performance, its human sweep of articulate rhythm in space and in time has no specific terminology to describe it by.
Martha Graham

It takes ten years, usually, to make a dancer. It takes ten years of handling the instrument, handling the material with which you are dealing, for you to know it completely.
Martha Graham

Learn by practice.
Martha Graham

Movement never lies: it is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather to all who can read it.
Martha Graham

My dancing is not an attempt to interpret life in the literary sense. It is an affirmation of life through movement.
Martha Graham

Nothing is more revealing than movement.
Martha Graham

Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.
Martha Graham

Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.
Martha Graham

The body is a sacred garment.
Martha Graham

Theater is a verb before it is a noun...
Martha Graham

The spine is the tree of life. Respect it.
Martha Graham

The world I'm interested in is the one where things are not named.
Martha Graham

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 time, this expression is unique.
Martha Graham

Think of the magic of that foot... upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle and the dance...is a celebration of that miracle.
Martha Graham

To learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.
Martha Graham

To me, this acquirement of nervous, physical, and emotional concentration is the one element possessed to the highest degree by the truly great dancers of the world. Its acquirement is the result of discipline, of energy in the deep sense. That is why there are so few great dancers.
Martha Graham

We look at the dance to impart the sensation of living in an affirmation of life, to energize the spectator into keener awareness of the vigor, the mystery, the humor, the variety, and the wonder of life. This is the function of the American dance.
Martha Graham

Wherever a dancer stands is holy ground.
Martha Graham

You are unique, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.
Martha Graham

You see, when weaving a blanket, an Indian woman leaves a flaw in the weaving of that blanket to let the soul out.
Martha Graham

Dancing is a very living art. It is essentially of the moment, although a very old art. A dancer’s art is lived while he is dancing. Nothing is left of his art except the pictures and the memories--when his dancing days are over.
Martha Graham