The word gallim (pronounced gah-leem) is Hebrew for waves, and the New York dance company Gallim Dance has made quite the splash around the globe with highly physical and imaginative performances.
Surging from Brooklyn, the dance company this weekend will host a master class and performance as special guests of the Fort Wayne Dance Collective.
Dance Collective artistic director Liz Monnier says the dance company will host a master class today with registered participants and on Saturday will perform Sit, Kneel, Stand and Pupil Suite, which shows the range of Gallim artistic director and choreographer Andrea Miller and the dancers.
I think it’s really important that the Fort Wayne arts community gets exposure to outside groups, otherwise, you’re doing the same thing all the time. We have dancers that don’t always get to Chicago or New York, so it gives local dancers a chance to see what’s going in the world of dance, Monnier says.
With Gallim, their movement is evocative, and it’s unique. Andrea Miller uses her dancers’ improvisational movements in her choreography, and it’s interesting to see how she created this new world of movement, she adds.
Sit, Kneel, Stand is inspired by Albert Camus’ essay on the myth of Sisyphus. Camus, an absurdist novelist and philosopher, theorized the Greek character Sisyphus, who was punished for all eternity to roll a rock up a mountain only to have it roll back down, can find happiness as long as he accepts the absurd notion that there is nothing more to life than his struggle.
Set to an original score, the work explores the search for meaning in our daily lives, which often are a mix of joy and the absurd.
Sit, Kneel, Stand’ is kind of a fun and funky way of looking at basic movement functions, Monnier says. It’s an interesting exploration in human movement, and it looks at dance in a different perspective.
Pupil Suite, a selection of works from Miller’s full-length piece, I Can See Myself in Your Pupil, playfully explores imagination and movement accompanied by the music of Israeli band Balkan Beat Box from New York’s underground scene.
I think dance needs to be a relevant medium, otherwise it will disappear, Miller says from New York in a phone interview. In order to do that, it has to go beyond people who are dance majors or danced in high school. It’s a very unique medium, and it’s an opportunity to express your body and this sort of intuitive language. Those are things that have become important to me.
Imaginative themes that focus on the human physicality have helped Miller create different worlds where inspiration can come from a blushing cheek to a cardboard box.
In a 2013 article, Dance Magazine hailed her as the Queen of Quirk, which she embraces with some ambivalence.
I think what it’s referring to is an unorthodox approach to beauty and physicality where you’re not seeing identifiable lines and steps that maybe you see in traditional dance forms, she says. It’s a little bit unusual and it’s fun, that title of quirk, but I don’t think it relates to me.
A 2004 graduate of Juilliard, Miller moved toTel Aviv, Israel, to join Ohad Naharin’s Ensemble Batsheva, which performed in Israel, Europe and New York for two years. Returning to New York, Miller began her own dance company in 2006.
The company has been able to perform for more than 15,000 viewers annually with national and international tours.
In 2012, the company found a home studio in a Brooklyn historical landmark that formerly was a church. The facility has served 3,000 participants with weekly classes, rehearsals, workshops and artist residences.
Miller says her first intentions were to explore choreography; she had no idea that it would turn to a fully functioning dance company.
We have had different growing pains and growing victories. It’s challenged me in ways that I never expected, she says. It challenges me entrepreneurially in terms of raising funds and creatively growing every year so that the works stays fresh.
Miller says that newcomers to a master class quickly learn that training starts with an internal exploration.
A huge lesson is how they talk to themselves in their mind while they’re dancing and how they encourage their minds to be constructive, inventive and aware of their habits. They learn how to identify and break them and build new ways of operating, she says.
It’s about being open to having a new experience. It’s definitely a different language, and hopefully it’s an opportunity to change their way of thinking of dance and their bodies, she adds.
For viewers who may not fully understand what’s happening in front of them, Miller says it’s more important to focus on what’s happening within them.
Try not to think of what it means. Experience it, and see how it makes you feel, she says. People should know that it’s an unfinished story that the audience writes the end to. It’s not like I have something that I want people to get, it’s an opportunity to watch and feel and think for themselves.