More Dangerous Myths for Artists


Continuing from Isaac Butler's post at Parabasis, and my post last week- What are some dangerous myths about art-making for you? What are the myths you confront that get in the way of our own ability to get work done?

1. You have nothing new (or relevant) to say.

I think the most dangerous myth for me, and the one that gets in my way most often. In Ecclesiastes, it says there is nothing new under the sun, and I live in fear of that statement. With the sheer volume of dances that I create for shows (currently I have 4 shows I'm choreographing and another that I am both directing and choreographing), I am always worried that they will look the same, be the same, become boring.

The way to alleviate this danger is to constantly serve the story. As long as the movement supports the story being told, it will remain relevant. Even if I used pique turns in the last 4 shows, or if this entire number is all about hip-shaking. As long as that is what the story needs, it works.

2. You are not qualified for this.

This may be a corollary of #1. I remember saying to a friend, shortly before I moved to Miami, that I had this fear that one day, someone would turn to me and say "How did you get here?! What makes you think you can do this?!"

My friend (being a friend), thought I was crazy. But I think this is something a lot of artists have nagging in the back of their minds. In some ways, it's good. We become motivated to NEVER hear that, and work our butts off. But negative motivation is not healthy. We need to realize our work is appreciated by someone, or we wouldn't be where we are, making a life by making art. Not everyone will get it, or us. Let it go. Take the work as your validation.

3. Only those who suffer make good art.

I've been accused, by people I love very much, of always needed a fight, a struggle. And that can be true. I like to be the underdog, the unexpected. To be able to turn the bad into good. But it is also exhausting.

Creating art is not the act of turning bad into good. It is the act of turning nothing into something. A blank page, empty stage, unplayed instrument, lump of clay, molded by our hands and ideas into art. You don't have to be poor, do drugs, have a broken heart, or be certain that everyone hates you in order to make good art. You must simply not fear nothingness. Be fearless. Create art.

(image from www.youngmanandoldsoul.tumblr.com)