Interview With Bebe Miller
Disc 5, 045/19/2009 (ca. 67 min.). Bebe Miller speaks with Candace Feck about the first decade of her dance company [Bebe Miller and Dancers; later Bebe Miller Company]; her choreographic process in The habit of attraction, including the influence of Scott Smith; Smith and Nikki Castro in The habit of attraction; not performing in her own work for the first time and using improvisational processes to choreograph; the beginning of her long standing relationship with the Bates Dance Festival in Maine; how residencies help develop a sense of community in the company; her work Thick sleep; her works Rain and Allies performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music [BAM] Next Wave Festival in 1989; the works, cast, and collaboration with the photographer Robert Flynt for the BAM performances; the origin and choreographic processes in making the solo Rain and her current attempts to remount it; the critical response, her personal response, and the impact the BAM performances had on the company's status in the dance community; resulting performances in New York, and touring Europe through the early 1990s; several works in the late 1980s that were influenced by rock and roll music; becoming a producer of choreographic works; obtaining a company manager, and booking agent through Pentacle; her relationship with Hearn Gadbois; collaborating with Ralph Lemon on Two; participating in the Parallels project; the idea of post-black art and how it relates to Miller's experiences; several anecdotes about the challenges of marketing her work, and audience responses; being pigeonholed as an African American artist during the late 1980s, and the social shifts that have occurred since; post-performance discussions and learning how to discuss her work publicly; her collaborations for the dance The Hendrix project in 1991, including the opening performances, and obtaining the music rights; her work Nothing can happen only once and the collaborators, including the writer Ain Gordon.
Disc 4, 05/05/2009 (ca. 33 min.). Bebe Miller speaks with Candace Feck about her economic situation while living in New York as a young dancer; performing and touring with Wiener until 1982, meeting Dana Reitz while on tour, and performing with Reitz from 1982 through 1983; an early solo she choreographed in 1978 performed at Dance Theater Workshop; her transition into choreographing her own dances; her early works being produced by Dance Theater Workshop; gaining representation through Pentacle in 1985; the early years of her dance company [Bebe Miller and Dancers; later Bebe Miller Company], including dancers, auditions, finances, and tours; the transition from performer to choreographer; an anecdote about developing as a performer in Wiener's company; her ambitions as a choreographer; her work Habit of attraction as a turning point in her choreographic method; receiving her first Bessie [informal name for The New York Dance and Performance Awards] in 1986 for her work Gypsy pie, created while in residence at Jacob's Pillow [in Lee, Mass.]; her admiration for other choreographers at that time, including Susan Marshall; her working at jobs other than choreographing in order to support herself until she received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation [John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation]; other grants and awards she received during the late 1980s; her relationship with Hearn Gadbois, the musician, and his impact on her work; her first marriage, of three years, to Jack Robinson in the early 1980s.
Disc 3, 05/05/2009 (ca. 70 min.). Bebe Miller speaks with Candace Feck about how she got her nickname Bebe; (briefly) her father; her mother's influence and personality; other childhood teachers and mentors, including pianist Frank White at the Henry Street Settlement; growing up as an African American in the 1950s and 1960s, and how this influenced the development of her identity as an artist; more on the emotional impact of integrating white communities; the development of her artistic voice; an anecdote about her style as a dancer; more on her student days, at Earlham; applying for graduate school in library science, and dance, including an anecdote about her dance audition at OSU [Ohio State University]; her acceptance to the OSU program, not having the money to attend, and returning to New York; her next few years in New York, her mother's illness and death; attending professional dance classes in Manhattan; her experiences while pursuing her Master of Fine Arts at OSU, including dancing with guest artists, in particular, working with Lynn Dowley and Twyla Tharp; her return to New York to pursue being an artist, and dancing for Nina Wiener's company [Nina Wiener and Dancers]; memories of ballet classes and teachers in New York in the late 1970s; (briefly) experiences in the Wiener company
Disc 2, 04/28/2009 (ca. 50 min.). Bebe Miller speaks with Candace Feck about her childhood anxiety and reading as a creative influence; her experiences as an undergraduate at Earlham College; her siblings' pursuits as young adults, including the impact of her sister's visit to Ghana, and her own subsequent introduction to African dance forms; reasons she left New York to attend Earlham; influential civil rights events that occurred during Miller's childhood and young adulthood; more about her life at Earlham; her dance experiences at that time, mainly with folk dance, forming a dance club, and attending a Merce Cunningham master dance class; an off-campus study term on art, in New York; how she spent her summers during her college years, including a cross-country road trip with her mother in 1969; returning to New York after college and her mother's illness.
Disc 1, 04/28/2009 (ca. 44 min.). Bebe Miller speaks with Candace Feck about her childhood, schooling, and family while growing up in Red Hook, Brooklyn; early art and dance influences including classes with the Nikolais-Louis Company [Nikolais and Murray Louis Company] at the Henry Street Settlement; the summers she spent at Bearnstow [on Parker Pond, a summer camp in Maine for the creative arts], and her family's move to Queens when she was a teenager; her family's ethnic background and racist incidents she experienced as a child; the emotional and artistic impact of experiencing racism and being one of the first to integrate white communities.
Dubbing master: *MGZTD 4-2591 no. 1-6
Archive original: 6 sound files (ca. 327 min.): digital, WAV file, 48 kHz, 16 bit; recorded directly in digital format [MP3] on April 28, May 5 and May 19, 2009 as interview was conducted; and stored on WD 5000H 1CS 00, 465 GB hard drive; located in the Library for the Performing Arts as of Feb. 18, 2010
Racism and the arts
African American artists
African American dancers
New York State Council on the Arts, 2008-2009
National Endowment for the Arts, 2008-2009
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