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The craftsman
Volume XXXI, Number 3 (December 1916)

Dancing and democracy,   pp. 224-233 PDF (2.5 MB)


Page 229


DANCING AND DEMOCRACY
or love or sorrow through the eyes or the mouth. The old Greek idea
of a free nirit as well . a GnminA mi"A - V 1, A 4'.4 .   .    4. .
understood, not appreciated in America, but feared. The free spirit
could not be born of Puritanism, and the free body can only be born
of the free -spirit. The painter can only put on his canvas what he
feels in his soul. It is not enough for him to see and think. What he
sees and thinks must be illuminated by his vision.
   You cannot have in America, in England, the Fiji Islands, grace
of motion, loveliness of expression, a body that expresses joy and
health, unless the spirit of the people sees life' sanely and joyously.
Duty alone is not the foundation of progress. Every progressive
nation must be a nation of balanced characteristics. It is not enough
that we weep over pain,-we must be fluent to every joyous emotion
if we are to walk erect, if we are to use our hands for fine gestures;
our expression, our eyes, our mouths are to face the world and give it
joy and intense emotion.
P ROBABLY nothing that either America has seen or felt or
     that Europe has created and appreciated has so tended to relate
     both the spirit and body in these last few years as the sudden
and widespread enjoyment of dancing. Ten years ago there were
very few people who danced in Europe or America except on the
stage for the pleasure of paid audiences. Always people have danced
in Italy and in Spain, and Brazil and in Argentine. These people
express their emotion through dancing as freely as through their eyes
or their voice or their art; but Northern countries had begun to
stultify their bodies, hence their expressions were less fluent and their
gestures repressed.
   And then quite unexpectedly, without warning, as the spirit of
art always comes, Miss Isadora Duncan began to dance, starting in
San Francisco, moving on to Chicago, reaching New York in her
flight and resting there for a few moments, and then moving swiftly
on to Munich, Berlin, Paris, London and back to New York. We
find all along the line of her winged travel that dancing sprang up as
if by magic, the impress of her spirit remained, and those that saw
and understood, and many who saw and did not understand, began at
once to dance, until today all the world is dancing, or trying to dance
with freedom of gesture, bare feet, and uncovered limbs.
   It is a beautiful thing to have happened to the world. It is a mar-
velous thing for one woman to so impress her art upon the entire
generation of her life time. Already we see the result of this dancing
in our art, in our homes, in the health of our children, in the more
emotionalized human race. We see the art of gesture, which is one
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