Dancing Like Martha Graham


Years ago, I used to date a Martha Graham dancer. His abs were just incredible. The signature move of the Graham dance technique is to contract the abdominal muscles quickly. There was so much power in pulling inward, Martha made it the central move in her choreography. I was remembering him and his great strength because we are all in a Martha Graham dance right now. With everything that is going on in the world, how could we not be at least a little contracted?


We won’t remain here. Like everything in nature, this time will come and go like the many seasons of our lives, but my thoughts about this moment of contraction are to simply recognize and accept where we are. I recently offered a workshop called Removing Our COVID Armor. Perhaps this workshop was a bit premature, but the concept is before we can move into the expansive freedom of pleasure, we need to begin by acknowledging the invisible armor of contraction layered into our bodies, minds and spirits from the events of the past few years. With that recognition, we need to be kind to ourselves and others that we might not be able to expand as far as before or as far as we'd like. At least not right now.


We began the workshop by squeezing into a ball. Closing out the world. I imagine a hibernating animal curled into a ball under many feet of snow. Unable to go anywhere, no food to eat, an inhospitable environment that lasts for months. It is survival at its most basic. And sometimes, that’s all we can do.

This is my invitation. Create a ritual of contraction. It could happen in bed or curled up on the floor. Make a nest, put on your comfy clothes or take them all off and hop on in. Take a moment to feel into your contracted state. Notice how safe it feels. Notice also how closed off or how constricting. Notice the good and the bad, the dark and the light of contraction.


Let’s be gentle with ourselves and honor our own individual contracted states and recognize others are feeling it too. We may want to fly outside into the summer sun and feel the erotic freedom the season is inspiring. But our current state of contraction is larger than a single winter. It is a contraction of a lifetime. We may look the same on the outside, but on the inside, we are dancing a bit like Martha Graham.