Agnes de Mille and The Female Narrative
To honor Agnes de Mille on the 30th Anniversary of her passing, The De Mille Working Group will present a public program featuring live performances, panel discussion, and historical film footage. Moderated by Linda Murray, Curator for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, and Interim Executive Director of the Library for the Performing Arts, the panel will focus on de Mille’s multi-faceted female characters, exploring the meaning and intent behind the choreographer’s vision.
Free to the public, the program will feature a notable panel of experts including Virginia Johnson, Kathleen Moore, and Elena Zahlmann, all former interpreters of de Mille’s most iconic roles. Diana Byer, Artistic Director Emerita of New York Theatre Ballet and stager of de Mille works, and Diana Gonzalez-Duclert, former rehearsal assistant to de Mille, professor, and associate director and répétiteur of the De Mille Working Group, will round out the panel to
discuss the enduring relevance of de Mille’s work.
Live performance excerpts scheduled for “Agnes de Mille and The Female Narrative” include Emma Von Enck and Victor Abreu of New York City Ballet in a solo and pas de deux from de Mille’s choreography of the 1945 musical Carousel, and Elena Zahlmann, NYTB Associate Director, in de Mille’s solo from Debut at the Opera (1927). Performances will be accompanied by New York City Ballet pianist Michael Scales.
Film footage from many of de Mille’s historic works, some never seen publicly, will be shown throughout the program, including excerpts from the film Ballet Class (1929), “Civil War Ballet” from Bloomer Girl (1944, 1956 film), a televised version of Fall River Legend performed by Dance Theatre of Harlem (1989), and a filmed performance of The Informer performed by American Ballet Theatre (1988).
About Agnes de Mille
Agnes de Mille was a renowned dancer, choreographer, writer, lecturer and director whose
concert and choreographic career spanned almost 70 years of the 20th century. She forever
changed the course of American dance for both ballet and musical theater. De Mille celebrated
the American spirit through narrative ballets, which were driven, most often, through strong
women characters. Her long illustrious career produced over 21 ballets and 17 musical theater
productions. A pioneer for women in the arts throughout the 20th century, she was one of the first
women to both direct and choreograph a Broadway musical and was a founding member for the
union of stage directors and choreographers (SDC) for which she was the only female president
of a trade union at the time. A great stateswoman for the arts, she was appointed by President
John F. Kennedy to the National Advisory Committee for the Arts and the later National Council
of the newly formed National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) by President Lyndon Johnson.
Throughout her long and illustrious career, de Mille was a tremendous artistic and intellectual
force who helped shape the identity and history of the American performing arts through her
artistry, engagement, and search for the “intrinsic American.”
About The De Mille Working Group
De Mille Productions was established in 1993 by Jonathan Prude, an heir to Agnes de Mille, to
promote the performance and licensing of Agnes de Mille’s choreographic works. The ballets are
owned by Jonathan Prude, and the licensing and stagings are administered and overseen by The
De Mille Working Group, under the executive directorship of Anderson Ferrell.