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The craftsman
Vol. XXII, Number 2 (May 1912)

Roberts, Mary Fanton
The dance of the people,   pp. 195-199 PDF (1.9 MB)


Page 195


THE DANCE OF THE PEOPLE: BY MARY
FANTON ROBERTS
                    "Except ye become as little children."
                    "A little child shall lead them."
WENT the other evening to see a child dance. It
   was a joyous evening because it was a revelation of
   that spontaneous beauty every child should have the
   power to portray; it was also an infinitely sad even-
   ing because I realized that this one little girl was the
   only child I knew of in the world who was doing this
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old, yet she danced with equal wonder whiether her mother played
a simple little tune, or whether she floated past a pale-green curtain,
upborne by the music of her lovely soul. I have never seen any
dancing at all like it, except Isadora Duncan's, and I realized when
I saw this child that she was doing eagerly, unconsciously, joyously,
what Miss Duncan has striven for twelve years to make us under-
stand the miracle of, namely, that the perfect dance is the natural
outpouring of the spirit of beauty through motion.
   Mr. Percy MacKaye, who sat by me, said: "The wonder is not
that the child is doing this thing, but that every child in the world
is not doing it." And then Mr. Coburn, head of the Coburn Players
added, what was equally true, "If only this child could live her life
close to the spring of beauty, Nature, informed day by day through
the winds and the sunlight, through the perfumes and color-Nature's
great sources of rhythm-what tremendous things she could do to
freshen the gray world."
   And I realized as I watched the little child dancing, without drap-
eries, without dramatic surroundings, without consciousness of her
genius, a "Dance of the Wind," a "Dance of the Flowers,"
a "Dance
of Sadness," a "Dance of a Little Child Going out of the House
to
Play," all her own improvization (if one may call by so elaborate a
name anything so simple and inevitable), that it is the real things of
the world, the very simple things which hold the great qualities of
perfect beauty and moving joy.
    How much of her readiness to interpret beauty this child owes
to her parents it would be hard to estimate. Her father, Jerome
Myers, is a painter of modern life, of out of doors, sunlight, children
playing and dancing-the joyous aspect of everyday existence, a
painter of profound insight, with technique that enables him to pre-
sent his philosophy adequately through his art. But granting this
artistic inheritance, this little child is of herself inherently close to
the source of beauty, as only little children and the more primitive
people of the world can be, and all children are, if left to their own
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