Dances are made, dances are performed, the world is a better place. However tidy that appears let’s assume that the creative process is less so. I’m of the mindset that choreographers and dance companies continue to produce because of the gravitational pull of ideas that emerge from a group of people in a room together, making something. Purpose can be captivating; proximity may be an even more catalytic driver. Sharing the process of finding rather than what is already found is, for me, the heart of what we offer in performance. It’s also what we offer you, our audience, in this e-book. We hope it provides a view into the ecology of our dance-making, a winnowing of a 4-D event.
Over the past decade or so Bebe Miller Company (BMC) has undertaken a series of projects that document our creative practice, even as we travel forward from one to the next. This e-book is an end-of-process album of our time in The Making Room, our choreographic project which resulted in In A Rhythm. It includes contributions from company collaborators and myself, collected to frame and document our travels through a creative progression. I’ve italicized or otherwise noted portions that were contributed by the artists involved, as well as what I’ve contributed of my notes from the process. Many thanks to all the people involved in creating this dance work over the past 2½ years. As we say in every program note for every performance, our process includes individual and collective choreographic contributions from the collaborating artists; their creative insights and energies are an integral part of each work.
A word about The Making Room: I know quite a bit about how I choreograph dances but I haven’t had much practice with someone else’s approach. I’ve sat in on composition classes at various times, with various teachers and students. I’ve taken note of what is observable in the exchange more so than what is produced. I’m curious, though—curiosity is what brought me to this project.
In August 2015 I was invited to Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana, IL, to “retreat” myself. Director Michael Ross offered a week of time and resources for me to use as I saw fit. I invited choreographer Susan Rethorst and video artist Lily Skove to join me for a few days, to spend time together and to consider what and how we make. Sue and I decided it would be interesting to track our parallel play, with Lily framing it from her perspective. We called it The Making Room. What followed was two years of tracking our independent choreographies, concluding in February 2018 with performances of our new works at New York Live Arts, framed by videos created by Lily and Ellen Maynard, and an online “portal” offering texts, images, and other glimpses into our respective creative processes.
The work spanning Bebe Miller Company’s history can be understood as a record of process and progress. We nudge the thing forward, we discuss, we dance, we consider and reconsider. (I love to do this.) The process of knitting together the feel of a thing with questions and realizations over time is immensely satisfying and deeply humane. This process speaks to progress—of what we can do together as people. BMC functions due to the imprint of the whole. Groupings of dancers, collaborators, makers, designers, and contributors have changed over the years since we began as a company in 1985. In A Rhythm includes dance artists Michelle Boulé, Christal Brown, Sarah Gamblin, Angie Hauser, Darrell Jones, Bronwen MacArthur, and Trebien Pollard; production designer Stan Pressner; costume designer Liz Prince; stage manager Valerie Oliveiro; production manager Elby Brosch; project manager Lila Hurwitz; and myself as choreographer and artistic director. The project spanned over two years and culminated in the company’s premiere of In A Rhythm at the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH) in November 2017.
Welcome to How Dancing is Built: The Making of In A Rhythm.
Artistic Director, Bebe Miller Company