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Ohio State professor traces lines of dance with 2 new exhibitions

Courtesy of Bebe Miller

This fall, Wexner Center for the Arts and Ohio State’s Urban Arts Space will give Columbus the opportunity to experience the work of celebrated choreographer and dancer Bebe Miller.

Miller, a full-time dance professor at OSU, is the artistic director of Bebe Miller Company.

The Wexner Center is scheduled to host Miller’s exhibition “A History” from Sept. 27 to Sept. 30.

“In the exhibitions, you can see how we create each moment, how the ideas connect to each other. I do not entirely agree that the exhibit shows the innovation of my works. I do not tend to innovate. I just think about how to make the show better,” Miller said.

Chuck Helm, director of performing arts at the Wexner Center, said the exhibit consists of a performance element and a video installation, which take viewers inside the creative processes Miller developed with her dancers, Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones, who are both members of Miller’s company, and theater expert Talvin Wilks.

Miller is also slated to introduce at the exhibit a piece she’s had in the works for two years.

“It focuses on close relationships between the two dancers. Not you move here, I move here. It’s about a strong connection,” Helm said.

Not all of the exhibit, however, involves new work.

“Besides the new piece, Miller’s several key works in the past and part of back-stage rehearsals will also be revisited. All of these are trying to show how ideas are connected and organized in Miller’s works, and are kind of references to each other.” Helm said.

He added after “A History’s” premiere at Wexner Center, the exhibit is scheduled to tour nationwide.

A little different from “A History,” Miller’s other exhibit, “Tracing History,” centers on her past works.

The exhibit, which shows Miller’s choreographic process in detail, is scheduled to be on display at OSU’s Urban Arts Space beginning Thursday and running through Sept. 29.

Jerry Dannemiller, director of marketing and communications at the Wexner Center who organized “Tracing History,” said he thought of it as a retrospect.

“This exhibition sheds lights on her works in almost three decades and it shows the process of making her art works in a deeper depth,” Dannemiller said.

In this exhibition, each element, including costumes, sets and music, defines Miller and her work.

Dannemiller said the exhibition is appropriate for all audiences.

“Even if you know nothing about contemporary dancing, you are welcome and will engage in it,” he said.

Miller’s dance career has lasted more than 30 years, and she has garnered several awards and honors for her contemporary dancing. Recently, Miller received two honors, one being a Sphinx Award, which is given to excellent faculty and staff members who serve as role models to their students. Miller was also named as one of the first winners of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards, an award which was started by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in 2012 and recognizes outstanding performing artists.

Despite her starting to learn dancing at a very young age, Miller said she never expected to become a professional dancer long term.

“I enjoy spending a lot of time watching people and looking, over time, how they form alliances,” Miller said. “When I collaborated with other people, dancers or set designers, I felt amazing and realized that it is what I want to do.”

Miller’s works mainly focus on the relationship between dancers.

“Working with a small group of people really inspires me. When creating new works, it is amazing to keep reframing each movement,” Miller said.

When talking about her new piece, Miller said she thinks the relationship between dancers is a large part of it, but that alone cannot represent the entirety of what she wants to convey.

“When working with dancers, I also want them to show their individuality,” Miller said. “Imagination is part of it.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 22, 2012

An earlier version of this story stated that “A History” is scheduled to premiere at OSU’s Urban Arts Space, when in fact “A History” is scheduled to premiere at Wexner Center for the Arts. It also should have been noted that the Lantern reporter for this story works at the Wexner Center.

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