Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Martha Graham to Agnes Demille

(Martha Graham)

The piece below I was given as a senior in college - it's probably the most inspirational thing that I received from my Senior Thesis class instructor, who otherwise wasn't very helpful with the work I was doing at the time. I hope you all find it as inspiring as I did.


Martha Graham (to Agnes Demille)

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; 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 open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. 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.


Until recently, I never even bothered to look up the two women that were having the conversation that made up one of my most treasured and inspiring quotations. (I have been referencing the part I highlighted in bold for years now, and the original paper is still on display in my studio area where I work.) I assumed they were artists of some kind, but was fascinated to finally discover that they were both choreographers and dancers during the early/mid 20th century. Wikipedia says this of Martha Graham:

"Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) was an American dancer choreographer regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance, whose influence on dance can be compared to the influence Stravinsky had on music, Picasso had on the visual arts, or Frank Lloyd Wright had on architecture. Graham was a galvanizing performer, a choreographer of astounding moves. She invented a new language of movement, and used it to reveal the passion, the rage and the ecstasy common to human experience."

...Sounds like my kinda broad. :)


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