Agnes de Mille: Find Your Place

Agnes de Mille in Rodeo. Photograph by Maurice Seymour.

All of us dream; all of us have dreams. What is futile is to have a dream of alarming specificity: To claim, for instance, that I will only be happy if I dance the lead in Giselle or Romeo and Juliet. This is a limiting dream, and one that fails to take into account your own strengths and weaknesses. I did not have the body or the ability to play the roles of classical ballet, but my dream was to love and to create and to share the dance, so I wasn't defeated. Well, can you really imagine that I might have been defeated by anything? No, and neither should any serious artist. You adapt; you revise; you contour, a verb I use that drives people mad.

There is a place for a good artist, but it rarely is the place you expected or desired. Don't be stupid and demand the place you crafted when you were young and particularly stupid. Find your place. I became a good teacher and choreographer. I wrote good books to educate and inspire people. I worked in films, which was tantamount to prostitution among some of my peers.

You have a gift, a unique gift, and you have to find the way to be the strongest person you can be to take this gift to people and to share it.

It's very difficult; it's exhilarating; and it's the journey that will re-define you and make you into a good artist.


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