FYI | De Mille Muse Gemze de Lappe Dies

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Gemze de Lappe, rehearsing the Dream Ballet from Oklahoma! with New York Theatre Ballet dancers Marius Arhire and Rie Ogura, was known for carrying on Agnes de Mille’s legacy.
Photo courtesy New York Theatre Ballet

Gemze de Lappe, who championed Agnes de Mille’s choreography both as a dancer and coach, died of pneumonia November 11, 2017, in Manhattan, according to the New York Times. She was 95.

In 1943 de Lappe was cast in the first national tour of Oklahoma!; she went on to dance de Mille choreography in Paint Your Wagon and Carousel. In her later years, de Lappe became known as an expert restager of de Mille’s work, thanks to her emphasis on character development as well as movement.

“De Mille choreography isn’t abstract—it’s all relationship-based,” Elena Zahlmann, principal dancer and associate artistic director of New York Theatre Ballet, told DSL about the company’s frequent work with de Lappe. “She showed you how to use your eyes, how to fall in love with someone—that’s what made the movement what it was. The most important thing was not how high your leg was or how pointed your foot was, it was how you were reacting to each other onstage.”