There is little chance for the dance in Germany today. Anything that affects a nation socially and religiously is bound to affect the dance.
So asserts Martha Graham, leading American artist in the field of themodern creativedance.
“The position of the woman in Germany (you know the dance is matriarchal today) in going back to church, kitchen and child, means that the dance must become inpoverished here. This is a return to medievalism with its corresponding lack of freedom fo body. Many of the finest dancers have had to leave the country,” said Miss Graham.
Martha Graham is a New Englander-“a tenth generation Puritan,” she says. Her sharp Anglo-Saxon features were intent and serious as she spoke with unusual understanding of the Jewish personality.
STUDIED JEWISH GIRLS
Miss Graham has had occasion to study Jewish traits among her own group of girls, the majority of whom are Jewish. She claims that as an outstider she can perhaps better judge Jewish characteristics. She finds that Jewish girls are quicker to grasp, react and understand. They mature more quicky, says Miss Graham.
“Jewish girls are anxous for cultural development. They have an eagerness and enthusiasm with which they meet life and situations. A studious frame of mind, and a reverence for the arts is part of their racial makeup.”
She went on to explain why, although they have all these qualities, few Jewish girls ever become leaders in the field of the creative dance. “The Jewish girl is apt to be over-enthusiastic, to lose herself,” said Miss Graham “She often fails to see that she must discipline herself before she can become an artist. Artistry lies in restraint as much as in expression.
“The dance today is impersonal and the Jewess can rarely divorce herself from the personal. The Jewish woman is a born actress. That is where she enjoys the personal reactions to the rest of her fellow humans. But the dance is like music, it is man’s relations to his world rather than to his fellow men.”
She believes that the dance today expressess not a machine age, but a particular tempo. About the influence of the machine she said, “How can a woman be a machine or imitate a machine? It is entirely out of keeping with my beliefs. One can express a machine culture, but one cannot imitate a machine. There has been a change of tempo brought about by the machine. We can only express this tempo.”
This temp, however, cannot be divorced from racial background, she insists. As an example, she spoke of the dance technique which came from Russia. There must have been something electric, something vibrant and emotional about the Russians which sent them into the air, she contends.Russia contributed an air technique to the dance. The American dance has a beat of its own, but there has been no colonization in it. The German dance, of a more intellectual nature, had a tendency toward breadth and motion. The Jewish dance, a folk dance, is gay and joyons and certainly could be expressed by no one but a Jew.
“Grace is how the individual relates herself to her environment and background. Your relationship to a wall, for instance,” said Miss Graham, leaning over and moving her arm in an toward the wall,” is the same as your relatioship to your background. When you wipe out your whole background you wipe out your whole background you wipe out everything. Then you must resort to imitaion.”
That is why Miss Graham even disapproves of her Jewish girls changing their names. “If you deny your background, you lose your identity,” She claims. “I think it is dangerous for the Jewish girl to get to the place where she doesn’t feel the value of her background. Hers is a particularly rich and warm one and she should use it.”