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DO40 Agnes De Mille Panel

Curtain call, l to r: (offstage, Richard Skipper, Stuart Hodes, half of Iva Withers),
Crandall Diehl, Gail Reese, Kathleen Marshall, Gemze de Lappe, DO40 Prez John Sefakis,
Christine Sarry, Paul Sutherland, Hope Clarke and Ted Chapin
(holding their cast gifts of a stick of butter, given to them by “Carol…”)

It really was an “Our History, Our Legacy, Our Lives” moment
at St. Luke’s Theater Monday, October 11th, honoring Ms. De Mille!

DO40 Agnes De Mille PanelDO40’s first panel of the season celebrated the life and work of choreographer and dancer Agnes De Mille. DO40 Legacy Award Winner Gemze de Lappe, who worked extensively with De Mille, brought together as many of the remaining creative artists of the time, including Bambi Linn, Crandall Diehl, Iva Withers, Gail Reese, Hope Clark, Bill Guske, Stuart Hodes, Paul Berne and moderator Paul Sutherland. Also on hand, Ted Chapin of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization as moderator of the Broadway section, director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall and former ABT dancer Christine Sarry. Richard Skipper as Carol Channing opened the show, churning butter to Bette Midler’s “Oklahoma!” and segued into “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” from De Mille’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Everyone learned a thing or two about Agnes that they DIDN”T know, and the rest of us just inhaled all the wonderful information presented by the panelists. Panel #1, moderated by Paul Sutherland, was all ballet, and featured Agnes’ works Three Virgins and a Devil, Fall River Legend, The Four Marys and Rodeo. Panel #2 was moderated by Ted Chapin and featured Agnes’ Broadway years.

DO40 Agnes De Mille Panel

Christine Sarry, Paul Sutherland, Hope Clarke and Ted Chapin with the butter.

Brilliant gems spilled from the mouths of Christine Sarry about learning Rodeo in Agnes’ later years (but before her stroke); and DO40 Agnes De Mille PanelBambi Linn’s observations about how you had to DANCE – not just “act” were priceless (like the ads!). She was too young, in the 1942 original Oklahoma cast to play Dream Laurey, so they created a “young dream girl” for her. She, of course, did play Dream Laurey in the highly acclaimed movie version.

Crandall Diehl was on both panels, as he straddled Agnes’ ballet and Broadway years, and brought loads of stories with him! Clips will be posted on DO40’s youtube site, www.youtube.com/dancersover40 very soon! Unfortunately, due to rights issues, we cannot post the video clips of Agnes, nor her dances, nor the “live” dance portion of the program. A very rare clip of Gemze de Lappe and dancer and actor James Mitchell was shown – and intermingled with a live performance by Elena Zahlman and Joshua Nieto of the New York Theatre Ballet. Special thanks to new DO40 member Diana Byer, head of that company!!! But you had to BE THERE to enjoy it! One of the perks of being in NYC, and being a member (the early notice and ticket discounts!).

Tons more photos to follow! Also, please go to our facebook page, www.facebook.com/dancersover40, where we post all pictures (along with our website, of course!). Those will be up in a week or two (it’s a lot of work for us volunteers!). We’ve got over 7,000 facebook fans in just the last 9 months!!! Amazing how we’re catching on here and across the country. Now, if all of them could JOIN Dancers Over 40 as members we could bring you MORE panels and performances – maybe to a city near you! If you’re not a member, please go to the home page and click on JOIN and… JOIN! We can’t do it without you!

DO40 Agnes De Mille Panel

Paul Berne, Bambi Linn, Stuart Hodes, Iva Withers and Crandall Diehl – (again with the butter!)


Photo By Jeff Eason, Wilsonmodels, Inc