Martha Graham On What Feeds The Life-force Of Creativity - Deepstash
Martha Graham On What Feeds The Life-force Of Creativity

Martha Graham On What Feeds The Life-force Of Creativity

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Crushing Disappointment And Soaring Creativity

“Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied,” Zadie Smith counseled in her Ten Rules Of Writing. But how does one befriend this perennial dissatisfaction while continuing to unlock, to borrow Julia Cameron’s potent phrase, the “spiritual electricity” of creative flow?


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Why (Not) This One? Why (Not) Now? Why Bother?

In 1943, De Mille was hired to choreograph the musical Oklahoma! , which became an overnight sensation and ran for a record-setting 2,212 performances. Feeling that critics and the public had long ignored work into which she had poured her heart and soul, De Mille found herself dispirited by the sense that something she considered “only fairly good” was suddenly hailed as a “flamboyant success.”


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The At Once Grounding And Elevating Answer

Shortly after the premiere, De Mille met legendary choreographer Martha Graham “in a Schrafft’s restaurant over a soda” for a conversation that put her gnawing grievance into perspective and offered what De Mille considered the greatest thing ever said to her. She recounts Graham’s at once remarkably grounding and remarkably elevating answer in the 1991 biography “Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham.”


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“Because It Will Be Lost.”

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.”


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“Your Business Is To Keep The Channel Open.”

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”


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“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison


To the creative spirit, there is “no satisfaction whatever at any time […] There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

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