Q&A with Andrea Miller
by Laura Diffenderfer
We sat down with GALLIM artistic director Andrea Miller to learn more about her new work To Create A World, premiering at The Joyce from Feb 12-17, 2019.
Your new work is called To Create a World. What kind of a world have you and the dancers created?
Hopefully, a kind of world that is not merely meant to be witnessed, but rather, a world that allows the dancers, the collaborators, me, the audience...to live within it. [Something] to take with us and to transform us, even after the curtain falls.
When I think of the title—[which shares its name with an] eponymous poetry collection and a poem that were partially written in our studio some years ago [by JuanFe Rengifo Borrero*]—I like that it suggests a disposition and ambition to create.
A lot of what I try to achieve in my work is building a very specific structure or game that ignites and expands the dancers’ own creative agency. A world that grants them a sense of freedom and transcendence within the physical constraints of space, their own bodies, and technical expectations.
As I am making this work, there are times that I am thinking about a world and its defining components —gravity, evolution, entropy. Other times, the world I am considering is the individual’s soul—its longings, fears, and how it is so infinite, so elusive, in constant change, as mysterious and expansive as the universe.
What have you been thinking about as you create it? Any inspirations you can share?
Becoming a mother and losing my father have made deep impressions on me. The world I thought I knew changed [within the course of] a few years and sometimes by merits of singular moments... It is intriguing to think that even when we have unequivocal expectations of what can biologically happen to us, our worlds are constantly replaced by new ones as those biological possibilities are fulfilled.
The body is among my essential focuses and inspirations. The urgencies of survival between birth and death as animals, human animals, dancers... And yet, despite our corporal reality—with our need of bread and water—we are also able to fast, to abstain to pursue transcendence and meaning through and beyond our own bodies.
What is it about dance that keeps you engaged?
I love dancers, their individuality. I love ideas that can make their way—and at the same time be transformed and destroyed—through the body. [I love] music, discovering something new about the craft or myself as an artist and as a human. I love that you need to experience dance live. I love how ancient dance is and yet it seems to continue to move us.
If you had to choose three words to describe yourself, what would they be?
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We have been exploring the concept of home at The Joyce for the past two years. We are curious to know what makes people feel a sense of comfort and belonging. Where do you feel most at home?
I find that sense of home in a state of being more than in a physical space. Maybe that’s why I became a dancer. I feel at home when there is a mix of ease, playfulness, depth, humor, acceptance of emotions and expression, and connection.
I feel at home in my studio. And I also feel at home in creative havens in which dance and artistic creation are treated without prejudice, with a generosity that resembles unconditional love. The Joyce has been such a dance home. The people [of The Joyce] have always provided that sense of home.
*Here is one of the poems in JuanFe Rengifo Borrero’s collection To Create A World.
by JuanFe Rengifo Borrero (New Orleans Review / 2013)
You should judge the animal objectively. Omit sleepinghours.
Forget how many pounds of red meat and
carbohydrates it consumes. Mating numbers can indicate
voracity or appeasement. The organs length and
flexibility are shortcomings that do not admit
reasoning. It is essential to judge the animal with
objectivity. Without blinking, without mumbling. Look at
the animal straight into its eyes and spare no injury.
Keep quiet. Keep prudent distance.