Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Martha Nishitani Interview
Narrator: Martha Nishitani
Interviewer: Sara Yamasaki
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: May 15, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-nmartha-01-0043

<Begin Segment 43>

MN: And that's, dance is an art form that can stand on its own, which Doris Humphrey proved in her "Water (Study)."

SY: And "Water (Study)" was a different one from...?

MN: A dance that she composed (...) back in 1928. And it was an abstraction on an ocean wave. And the movement was based on breath rhythm. And in 1954, when I was in Connecticut, she reconstructed that dance. And she let me be in it, and I was the backwash. [Laughs] There's never been a dance better, that's better than that, or, it's the most beautiful dance there is. They did it at the University of Washington this year (1998). And it was thrilling to see it because it's these ten dancers, and there's no music. It's just based on their breath rhythm. And nothing has ever been done that's more beautiful than that. And it survives time. (...)

SY: What makes that the most beautiful piece you've ever seen?

MN: Because the movement is there, and it's so expressive. You can just see this ocean wave, and the way it ripples and it goes onto the shore and backwashes out.

SY: And you hear no music?

MN: There's no music. But you can just, you can just see this wave. And there's the wave that (goes) up and falls, and it's (...) based on an ocean wave. And you can't miss it. You see it. You see the different ways the water moves. Sometimes it's still and just moves side to side. (...) So dance is an art form that can stand on its own. Everybody thinks it has to have music, it doesn't have to. But we usually always have music with dance now. She was very courageous when she did that, but she proved her point. Actually, dance is, I always say it's the mother of arts because you move before you do anything else. You move in the womb, so movement is first.

SY: Before any other form of art.

MN: Oh, yeah.

<End Segment 43> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.