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No Intermissions: The Life of Agnes de Mille Paperback – March 27, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Agnes is a very demanding person, she eats up the air," said a friend of choreographer, writer and cultural whirlwind Agnes de Mille. This biography is equally daunting. Easton, biographer of Sam Goldwyn, Jacqueline du Pre and Stan Keaton, has evaluated almost every dance movement, artistic exchange and tantrum of de Mille's 88 years. But far from being irksome, the detailed chronology gathers strength as its subject careens from wild success (Oklahoma and Rodeo) to chaotic failure (Sebastian lasted one night, and Come Summer closed after seven performances). Along the way, Easton doesn't neglect de Mille's equally unpredictable emotional life. Daughter of playwright William de Mille, niece of Hollywood's larger-than-life Cecil B. de Mille, she had a torturous relationship with her mother, Anna, that dominated her early career. Later, her 45-year marriage to Walter Prude, an executive of the Sol Hurok Agency, held together despite internal competition and marked divergence of personalities. The account of their last years together is deeply moving. Nor does Easton forget de Mille's almost accidental writing career. Her Dance to the Piper was a 1952 bestseller, and throughout her career, she always had a literary project under way. Her major life of Martha Graham was published in 1991, only two years before her death. This skillful portrait assumes a deep interest in the world of dance and musical theater. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In To A Young Dancer (LJ 7/5/62, o.p.), de Mille once advised dancers to "try to consider the step as a whole, a long curve, and sustain throughout." Easton has considered the life and career of her subject as a whole, told the entire story, and sustained a richly detailed narrative that sparkles with the names of stars in the world of dance, theater, and film. Described in New York Newsday as "perhaps the best dancer ever to write and the best writer ever to dance," de Mille not only transformed the American musical with her choreography (Oklahoma!, Carousel, Brigadoon) and enlivened the ballet scene (Rodeo and Fall River Legend) but produced a number of notable books as well (e.g., Dance to the Piper, Da Capo, 1982; Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham, LJ 8/91). Thoroughly researched and written with the cooperation of its subject and her family, friends, and colleagues, this carefully crafted account of the life of one extraordinary woman belongs in all performing arts collections.?Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 548 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Co. (March 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0788193775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0788193774
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.8 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,139,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By disheveledprofessor on February 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
This biography offers little insight to what already exists, and doesn't convey the passion of De Mille's own writings [although they are quoted lavishly]. You would be much richer served to read her own memoirs:

"Dance to the Piper" [published 1952][early memoir: childhood in Hollywood, struggle to become a dancer]

"And Promenade Home" [published 1959] [early success, and wartime marriage]

"Speak to Me, Dance with Me" [published 1973] [more detail on the early career years, in London and in Hollywood]

"Where the Wings Grow" [published 1978] [about summers at Merriewold, the de Mille estate near the Delaware Water Gap]

"Reprieve: A Memoir" [published 1982] [about her stroke]

Agnes De Mille came from a driven and successful family: her maternal grandfather was the world renown economist, Henry George. Her father, William de Mille, was a Broadway playwright, and later Hollywood scenarist. Her uncle, Cecil B. De Mille, is known world over for his movie directing. She grew up in a milieu that expected achievement, and achieve she did: choreographer of the highest caliber, on Broadway [the groundbreaking "Oklahoma!", "Brigadoon", etc.] and in the ballet world [the groundbreaking "Rodeo", "Fall River Legend", "Three Virgins and a Devil"].

De Mille was passionate about dance. She was passionate about her beliefs [sometime see the video of her debate with a Hollywood columnist during the McCarthy era], passionate about everything. She was also an astute observer, a gifted writer, and self-critical.

You will find her books enthralling. Go to the source!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia M. Jones on March 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Does anyone seriously believe that a creative genius objectively depicts her own life, in "her own words". Agnes did write her books that are difficult to find now - and for dancers, superb. In reality, deMille's brilliant devisings were instinctual which she worked out through her own dancer's body and in rehearsal by herself. How to put that brilliance on a page? For a dancer, the sketches are there to interpret, for a reader, no. What the public wants is the calendar as it were for this woman, deMille. I was there and I know dancing wasn't the same after she appeared to large audiences; what I got from this fascinating study by Carol Easton was my feeling of confusion and dismay about why she wasn't before the public sooner. The book gives you all of her trials and timelines, which I needed to understand her; it is incredible that she could persist as long as she did. And she was not nice, she didn't have time for that. A quote by Mary Rodgers explains the texture and color of this remarkable driven women: "Agnes, whom I knew and adored-when I wasn't ready to kill her - was cantankerous, charming, driven, stubborn, vulnerable, courageous, a royal pain the neck...and a genius" She never paid very much for her dancers, much less rehearsals. They worked for her anyway. The Russians said in the forties,"This isn't dancing!" Agnes said: "I never said it was. Just do it". And they looked at this short, not pretty, a bit hippy figure of an American woman and probably thought of the exquisite Alicia Markova. Who doesn't?
But Agnes had "the line" notwithstanding and she was a tireless creator of genius and a bully who won fame for her dancers,
and thrilling times in the theatre for us, the Public.
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