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For this Thursday Theater, I wanted to share this amazing video featuring Helen Keller and Martha Graham. Apparently when these two women met, they recognized that they were kindred spirits. Martha Graham was immediately taken by Helen’s ‘gracious embrace of life’. And indeed, Helen’s joy at experiencing the dance in her own unique way is palpable.
You can read a lot more about the meeting here, including a very wonderful story about Helen learning the meaning of the word “jump”. Apparently while experiencing the dance, Helen asked what the word “jump” meant. Martha Graham called one of the dancers over and placed Helen’s hands gently on his waist. He then jumped in the air several times. Helen was so excited as she now understood the full meaning of this word. She experienced the freedom that comes when a body leaves the earth. “How like thought, how like the mind it is!” she exclaimed.
I played Helen Keller in a theatrical version of The Miracle Worker when I was in high school. Ever since then, she has been an important influence in my life. I find this video especially moving for two reasons. First, I think it shows that dance is a very powerful form of communication that breaks through many barriers. And second, I think it shows how wonderful it is that each of us can experience joy in a way that is personal and unique. I love watching Helen’s face in the video and watching the abandon with which she experiences life. It’s something that I would like to aspire to one day. I find it deeply inspiring and hope you do too.
The Fat Chick