This incredible photo of Agnes de Mille occupies the entire right half of my large computer monitor. I work on the other half. I look over at this woman’s joyful face as she leaps high in the air with grace and agility and read her quote out loud to myself.
The artist never entirely knows--We guess. We may be wrong but we take leap after leap into the unknown.
When was the last time I took a “leap into the unknown?” Or took a risk? Or tried something new? Or just moved out of my comfort zone? Just a few years ago, this was more my modus operandi. As we get older, the hesitancy becomes more dominant. Where there used to be that “leap into the unknown,” there is now fear. Fear of what? Fear of failing? We start feeling more fragile about getting out of our comfort zone. Maybe in some cases it's justifiable. But the fear of failing should not and must not be the reason. What we learn from failure can be the most significant tool we ever learn.
Mature artists, writers, sculptors composers--all creators--let's take a leap into the unknown and create. Particularly important now, in this self-destructive world full of hate, violence, war, injustice and lack of concern for a sustainable environment. Art, music and books are especially needed as they are the only civility to which we can cling.
Agnes B. de Mille (1905-1993) was born into a theatrical family in New York. She choreographed for the American Ballet Theatre, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and for the Broadway stage. Among her best known works were Rodeo (1942) to a score by Aaron Copeland, Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), Brigadoon (1947), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), and Paint Your Wagon (1951).
In 1974 she founded the touring company, Agnes de Mille Heritage Dance Theatre, at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.
De Mille was also an outspoken advocate for the arts. Appointed to the National Advisory Committee on the Arts by President Kennedy, she went on to serve as member of the National Council of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1976, she was the recipient of the Handel Medallion in New York and received the Kennedy Center Honor in 1980. She continued to choreograph until her death in 1993 at the age 88. In her later years she created the dance works Texas Fourth, A Bridegroom Called Death, Conversations About the Dance, The Informer, and The Other.