Agnes De Mille: Hold Out A Hand

As the Priggish Virgin in Three Virgins and a Devil/ Carl Van Vechten

New York City

The talent we are given--and which we must husband as well as we can-- needs to be administered and expressed through the qualities that are unique to us. I go and I see a dance with which I am familiar and I am startled to see how a dancer has taken the material and made it singular to his or her talent. They honor the steps; they hear the music; they bond with and love their partners--but they do with their work something that is utterly true and appropriate for them. They are in a sort of communion with their quirks.

What frightens me is that--along with financial concerns--the arts are now preoccupied with taking people--dancers, actors, directors, writers--and molding them into something recognizable and safe and easily discerned. The marketing and the easy display of the artist has taken precedence over the bold decision to let someone step forward and be,  for lack of a better word, as weird as God and their desires and their dreams has made them.

I would say to anyone doing anything anywhere in the world to honor and remember the person who came upon a dream or a desire and to pursue it with that zeal you knew in that private place when you said, I want to dance; I want to paint; I want to tell people something; I want to act; I want to put words to paper to tell a story.

I owe everything to those who looked at me and saw that I was entirely inappropriate for that dream I had long held: I did not have the body; I did not have the skill. But it was recognized that I had the passion; I had a desire. So I was encouraged by bold and wildly generous people to find a way to express--through my quirks and my dreams--what I had longed to do. And I did.

We all can improve; we all can learn more; we all must continue working. However, do whatever you do in that manner that is uniquely yours. This is what makes an artist, and this is what transforms people. This is what keeps what we love to do alive. This is how we serve as witness to those who are just beginning to have their own unique dreams. Speak to them. Hold out a hand.

© 2013 by James Grissom
From Artistic Suicide


Popular Posts