Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Thousands of leaps

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Martha Graham

Becoming a Graham dancer was hard work. Graham believed that it took ten years to build a dancer (which fits with the ten-year rule for creative breakthroughs that I have described): “The body must be tempered by hard, definite technique—the science of dance movement—and the mind enriched by experience.” Students worked every day on “the torture,” becoming muscular and hardened in the process. After ten years a student could leave the ensemble and join a group of four. Graham commented that “it took years to become spontaneous and simple. Nijinsky took thousands of leaps before the memorable one.” She once added: “The difference between the artist and the non-artist is not a greater capacity for feeling. The secret is that the artist can objectify, can make apparent the feelings we all have.” (I am reminded of W.H. Auden’s advice to an aspiring poet: “Poems are made not of strong feelings but of words.”)

Howard Gardner, Creating Minds

Written by nevalalee

December 12, 2015 at 7:30 am

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