Preview: Bebe Miller’s A History

By
From the September 27, 2012 edition

Bebe Miller has choreographed her way through the past 27 years. An award-winning professor in Ohio State’s department of dance, Miller used that experience as a touchstone for her latest dance “A History.”

The piece particularly focuses on the creative relationship between Miller and three members of her dance company, dramaturge Talvin Wilks and dancers Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones. The group has worked together for more than 10 years.

“The interaction between all four of us was the creative agenda. It was a chance to look back at how we talk to each other, how we make everything,” Miller said. “[A History] is about the language of making.”

To achieve this, the pair of dancers, Jones and Hauser, recollects interactions between the four artists in various ways. For example, they wear headphones in different scenes and repeat the words they hear through them; the words are recitations from things like notes from previous choreography sessions or sentences from interviews with a member of the group.

Alongside the hour-long duet also are video by artist Lily Skove and an installation by artist Maya Ciarrocchi. They are pieces to the “A History” puzzle that help show what creating dance feels like, sounds like, hurts like and heals like.

Also on the agenda: how dance making has changed in the past decade for this group of artists.

“Our role of working in itself is very challenging. We’ve been talking and working on this piece for over two years, just keeping track of everything and trying to stay present. But it’s the new reality of dance making in this economic climate,” Miller said. “The dancers have other jobs, they live in different states. This is who we are now. How does that work?”

That’s one of many questions “A History” considers, looking to, appreciating and analyzing the past to build a framework for the future.

Photo by Tessa Berg