Letter from the Guest Editor


Helen Keller once visited her friend Martha Graham and her dancers in her studio and asked, ‘Martha, what is jumping? I don’t understand.’1 To demonstrate, Martha put Helen’s hands on the waist of one of the members of her company, Merce Cunningham, as he made a series of little leaps. It is said that Merce “suddenly feels Keller’s fingers, still touching his waist, begin to move slightly, ‘as though fluttering’.” Keller then exclaims: “Oh, how wonderful! How like thought! How like the mind it is!”

I’d very much agree with Helen Keller, that dance, the motion of leaping, and fluttering, of vibrating, is so much like the movements of the mind, and her recognition of the kinship between the two is a testament to all the many different ways dance manifests in all our lives, encompassing beyond what is conventionally considered dance. In one sense, she experienced dance in that moment for the first time, but in so many other ways, she had been dancing all her life.

In this same visit to the studio, Martha Graham was intrigued because though Helen Keller could not see the dancers’ feet with her eyes, she could tell the direction in which they were moving. Martha said: “[Helen] could not see the dance but was able to allow its vibrations to leave the floor and enter her body.”

This issue was an invitation to consider all the different ways movement shows up in our lives, especially when we stand in the gap between how we hoped something would be and how things are in this moment. I am grateful - deeply humbled and astonished - at what this invitation has brought together. Each work in this issue are revelations—vibrating beyond its first, second, third reading and viewing—things that I might not have seen with my own eyes but are now entering my body, if I can be open to the vibrations, towards moving this way and that, to being and moving in my body with what is.

Here, now, I invite you to let it enter yours - that through the communion of being open to the movement of others, that in ways that we could not expect or imagine, we begin to see beyond what we, as lone individuals, can see. This collective seeing looks like the fierce beauty of brave witness to impossible questions and of the transformation of suffering. This collective seeing looks like claiming the mystery, the joy and complexity, of moving in our bodies, in the environments in which we find ourselves. If we let these vibrations enter our bodies, it grounds us, it connects us. It gives us the gift of seeing how our own dance, in our day-to-day lives, in our day-to-day moments are places we can continue to discover ways to be with ourselves and with one another. It invites us to live into the specific revelations each of us hold, the dance of how you, your life, in all your uniqueness, intersects with all other sentient beings that have come before you, that will come after you and all that surrounds you now.

1. Brown, Craig. Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2011. [Kindle] back to text

Works Cited