Leaps in the Dark:
Art and the World

Agnes de Mille, edited by Mindy Aloff

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Rediscover one of the greatest dance writers of the twentieth century

"Aloff, herself a fine writer and critic, has plucked the best of Agnes de Mille, one of the most vivid writers in dance, and made a bouquet of them that is as pungent as de Mille’s writing."--Alexandra Tomalonis, editor of Dance View

"De Mille can be witty, wise, irascible, poignant. As editor, Aloff delivers her subject to the reader in full regalia, and the result is a remarkably scintillating volume."--Nancy Goldner, author of Balanchine Variations

"From a lifetime of writings, Mindy Aloff has assembled a book that is de Mille’s autobiography but also a chronicle about art and the world during the twentieth century. De Mille shows us herself and America growing up, Pavlova dancing again, Kurt Weill composing, and World War II as it transpires."--George Jackson, dance critic

Agnes George de Mille (1905-1993) was one of the most popular choreographers of American theater and film in the twentieth century. She was also one of the greatest writers on dance in English, alongside Edwin Denby, Arlene Croce, and Alastair Macaulay.

De Mille published eleven books, a review of the London première of Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, and a monograph ("Russian Journals"). Sadly, of these, only her biography of Martha Graham remains in print. Leaps in the Dark is a dazzling collection that reintroduces de Mille’s astounding written legacy to a new generation of dance enthusiasts. Mindy Aloff’s brief introductions provide just enough context to allow de Mille’s brilliant portraits to shine all the brighter.

This anthology presents the Prodigal Son review in full, alongside excerpts from the monograph and eight of de Mille’s ten books now out of print. The result is a beautifully crafted volume that highlights some of the most engaging, witty, and evocative dance writing ever penned.

Mindy Aloff teaches dance criticism and history at Barnard College. A past fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, and a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, she is the author of Dance Anecdotes: Stories from the Worlds of Ballet, Broadway, the Ballroom, and Modern Dance and Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation.

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"Through her extraordinary, detailed descriptions, de Mille makes one see, hear, feel, amd sometimes even smell the environments and situations she describes. Overall, the book is of tremendous value in that it brings Agnes de Mille "back to the table" for conversation and appreciation of her remarkable contributions to the dance field, particularly in the United States."
--Ballet-Dance Magazine

"Leaps in the Dark, scrupulously edited by dance critic Mindy Aloff, includes excerpts from eight of de Mille's books, her essays and her review of the London premiere of George Balanchine's revolutionary ballet "Prodigal Son." Aloff leads into each of de Mille's writings with a thoughtful introduction that places the text in its historical and cultural context. Mindy Aloff deserves credit for resurrecting de Mille's writing from its premature tomb. The publication of Leaps in the Dark once again makes these important historical documents available to students and devotees of ballet, dance and musical theater."
--Washington Independent Review of Books

"This excellent collection of de Mille's writing documents the growth and historical development of 20th-century American ballet, modern dance, and dance on Broadway and in Hollywood films as seen through the eyes of one of the US's most prolific choreographers and authors. Aloff chooses wisely in selecting excerpts from de Mille's previously published books; the book provides invaluable discursive, thought-provoking contextual information and artistic insights about individual leaders in the development of American dance during the 20th century. Aloff's many enlightening and entertaining introductions provide artistic and cultural context for the pieces included. In providing some of the best of the prolific de Mille, Aloff creates a chronicle that illustrates de Mille's personal growth in conjuction with the development of American dance."
--Choice

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