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Crackling energy

The Fort Wayne Dance Collective brings Gallim Dance to the Arts United Center

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


Do a quick read-through of the many positive things written about dancer Andrea Miller and her company Gallim and you’ll notice a common thread.

One reviewer, for instance, called Miller “The Queen of Quirk.” Another described her work as “zany.” I even saw a “goofy” in there, while yet another talked about a particular work’s “wild-child dynamism.”

It’s all meant as a compliment, of course, and Miller seems to take it as such, though at the same time there’s a note of bemusement in her voice when she talks about it. “I think it’s because my work is sort of an unorthodox way of using the body and thinking about beauty, about what’s dance,” she says. “Anything that falls outside of what you expect to see in a dance performance is usually defined as ‘quirky.’”

She continues: “I use the whole body as a tool of expression — the face, the fingertips, the chin… just anything that can be used, so the movement doesn’t end up becoming recognizable lines that you normally see in dance. I also use a lot of humor, too, a combination of humor and sometimes tragedy, but mostly humor.”

“We are very big movers. Very expansive.”

To be accurate, Gallim (pronounced “gah-leem”) and the work the company creates and performs has been noticed for a lot more than just the aspects that get it described as quirky. It’s also been called revolutionary, emotional, imaginative, daring and kinetic. A piece on Miller in Crain’s New York Business last summer said “Miller is one of a handful of rising-star choreographers who, dance experts say, are shaping this generation of the art form…” And a reviewer in Time Out Chicago wrote “…it wasn’t simply the fact that Miller’s work is a suspenseful evolution of highs, lows, peaks and valleys; it was also that the dancers look like they’re having a blast dancing it.”

The company was honored for ‘movement innovation’ at a TEDx Conference in 2012, and has performed in venues such as New York City Center; the Joyce Theater; Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival; Spoleto Festival; White Bird; the TANZ Bremen Festival in Germany; and Madrid en Danza in Spain.

And now the Arts United Center will join that illustrious list. The Fort Wayne Dance Collective is bringing Gallim to the Arts United Center for a performance on Saturday, March 15.

There will also be a Master Class — open to the public — taught by Gallim Dance on March 14 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the FWDC Elliot Studio.

Miller founded Gallim in 2007, partially inspired by a dance instructor who took a slightly different approach to teaching dance than what Miller had encountered before. “Many people when they learn dance, they learn just the movements,” Miller says. “My teacher would show us the structure, the harmony — the reasons for things. When I fell in love with dance, I fell in love with not just moving as a dancer, but with the composition of a piece.”

Miller and another dancer began working together in the studio. Ideas started flowing, and more dancers gravitated towards the work Miller was doing.

Miller says that she always knew — even when she was just beginning to get interested in dance — that she wanted to create her own work. She attended Juilliard, but before that, during her high school days at Choate, she created her own curriculum. “I made my own dance life there, and took classes outside of the school,” she says. “I got them (the school administration) to change my sports credit into a choreography credit. I wrote a proposal that they would allow me to not do sports if I were to choreograph a few pieces a year and perform them at school for the assembly.”

If that sounds a little intimidating… well, it was. “That was a nightmare,” Miller laughs. “A hugely embarrassing and mortifying experience, but… I just wanted to be dancer.”

The two pieces Gallim will perform during their Fort Wayne appearance highlight the diversity of the group’s work. The first, “Sit, Kneel, Stand,” Miller describes as a sort of abstract, with a story behind it. “It starts out as if you were looking so close at a picture that you only see the pixels,” she says. “Then you slowly zoom out until you see it’s the picture of a man.” The person discovers his hands, his face, his feet, then his surroundings, then a woman. “There’s a story that is told with text and movement, about a very specific relationship, and then slowly returns to chaos, like dust to dust.”

The second piece — “Pupil Suite” — is much less structured than “Sit, Kneel, Stand.” It was one of the first pieces Miller created for Gallim and serves as a great demonstration of how the company earned its reputation for exhilarating performances. Audiences go crazy for it. “Pupil Suite’ is all about ‘play’,” Miller says. “We play with the music, play with the body, using our imaginations to create all these sort of whimsical, silly musical ideas. It’s a fun piece with great music and wild dancing.” “Pupil Suite” is performed to the music of Isreali band Balkan Beat Box.

The Fort Wayne Dance Collective presents Gallim Dance

Saturday, March 15 at 8 PM

Arts United Center
303 E. Main St.

Tickets: $20 for adults; $18 for students.
Special discounted tickets $15 for groups of 10 or larger.

For tickets, call The Fort Wayne Dance Collective at 260.424.6574 or purchase tickets online at fwdc.org

Master Class- A master class open to the public will be taught by Gallim Dance Friday, March 14 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the FWDC Elliot Studio, 437 E. Berry St. Downtown, Fort Wayne.

Cost is $25. Call the Fort Wayne Dance Collective 260.424.6574 to register. Space is limited.

For more on Gallim Dance, visit gallimdance.com

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