Keep the Channel Open

Martha Graham was the inventor of modern dance. What Picasso was to painting she was to dance. Her student, Agnes de Mille, was a world famous choreographer whose most famous work was called Rodeo, with music by Aaron Copland. Here is a letter  that Ms. Graham sent to her pupil, Ms. de Mille. I believe it is one of the best things written on the pursuit of art.


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. If you block it

It will never exist through any other medium

and be lost.

The world will not hear 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.

–Martha Graham to Agnes Demille

Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business and artist’s coach, and young person’s mentor. He sees patients in New York City, in Mt. Kisco, NY, and around the world by Skype.

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