Katherine Clifford ’14 interviews Bebe Miller, Artistic Director of the Bebe Miller Company. The Bebe Miller Company will present “History” this weekend: Friday, November 18 at 8pm; and Saturday, November 19 at 2pm and 8pm.
This piece is a way to look at the history of this particular group of collaborators. Most audiences see the piece that’s created as a record of the research process, ideas and the exchange between collaborators. On the inside, we know that what is lost for the audience is the continuing creative conversation that goes on between pieces. This piece is an attempt to bring our history forward and to show creative interplay, which is something we can all recognize of anyone who is trying to make something with other people. In sum, this piece is about how our dance company functions: the kinds of ideas, the exchange of physicality, and the interactions between our two company dancers, Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones. I hope that the audience walks away with the sense of the complexity of the process of two people trying to figure something out while moving through periods of history over a 10-year span. All in all, this piece is an exchange about a creative process and about friends over time.
Q: How does media play into the dance and the collaborative process?
You’ll see the dancers wearing headphones through a lot of the piece. They are listening to and then retelling conversations and stories that we’ve mined from our archives that give another kind of window into what it is we’re doing. Not only are we seeing them as these two people whose bodies hold the information of dance-making, but we get to share it in another way as well. I’m interested in these levels of interchange, the incoming of technology as a step towards and a step away from something. We’re also working with a video artist who is representing her sense of what we do.
Q: In dance, there seems to be a distinction between representation and meaning versus aesthetics for purely visual appeal. As a choreographer, what do you focus on, and how do you reconcile the two?
As a human condition, we pass in and out of meaning. As a choreographer, I’m not there to demonstrate a meaning, but I want to take it on and live through it and digest it that way. You carry the context with you and that’s the lens through which you start making something. Instead of showing the story of our history, we look at our history and figure out what it is saying to us, what it feels like, what is really happening physically between Darrell and Angie that is both abstract and completely human. We get to understand something about their familiarity as well as look at what their bodies are doing. I feel like the aesthetics of our piece reveal something about how our human condition.
Q: Can you talk about the choreographic process?
This is research. I’m asking questions that I don’t know, rather than trying to show you something that I already understand. On good days, it’s not so much the flow of answers, but some really good questions come up. It’s helpful to think that we’re figuring it out in front of you.
The Bebe Miller Company presents “History” on Friday, November 18 at 8pm, and on Saturday, November 19 at 2pm and 8pm in the Patricelli ’92 Theater as part of the Performing Arts Series at Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.