Choreographer Bebe Miller to present duet performance

Choreographer Bebe Miller to present duet performance

URBANA — Many artists are focusing increasingly on revealing to audiences the process behind making a work.

Among them is choreographer Bebe Miller, who will present at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts her latest project, an evening-length duet performance, as well as a separate installation that traces the history of her company, founded in 1985 in New York.

The performance by Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones is titled "A History" but is not a documentary.

"It really is a performance piece; at a certain point, its own life takes over," Miller said. "I think that what resonates with me is this is what making feels like, and one of the kind of cool things that happens throughout the piece is that they have headphones on and they're speaking."

The two dancers are fed and speak text that comes from the company's conversations about making dance — and from Hauser's conversations about having performed with Jones in an earlier Miller piece, "Landing/Place."

"I really wanted the audience to feel present and not just hear what they're being told," said Miller, a professor of dance at Ohio State University who's on sabbatical.

The video installation part of the project, "Moving Portraits," features Maya Ciarrocchi's video depicting a number of longtime Miller Company collaborators. Displayed in the Tryon Festival Theatre foyer, it features life-size video portraits presented in pairs, with artists' comments, and an accompanying iPad-based gallery guide.

"By observing paired portraits, viewers create relationships and consequently narratives between the participants despite the known conditions of the filming," reads the program. "The work challenges the viewer to consider how they construct their appearance for others and respond to the same construction of others. Ultimately, 'Moving Portraits' asks viewers to consider the artificiality of their assumptions about communities and individuals."

The company also will show at Krannert excerpts from "Bebe Miller: Tracing History," an exhibition curated by Jerry Dannemiller of the Wexner Center for the Arts to complement "A History," which premiered there in September.

"Tracing History" brings together costumes, sets, notation, rehearsal and performance documentation, music, and conversations with peers to give viewers an idea of Miller's concepts and her achievements over the past 27 years.

The Wexner at Ohio State commissioned "A History" through its Wexner Center Residency Award program and Krannert, where Miller and company spent three weeks in summer 2011 developing the work.

"It was really our first embedded rehearsal process in the theater," she said. "It was really invaluable. Krannert has come through for us a number of times."

"A History" also was developed with support from Wesleyan University's Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance.

Asked what sets her apart from other choreographers, Miller said people talk about her work as being very human, with a lot of partnering.

"I'm fascinated by what makes us do what we do," Miller said. "I really feel our work has always revealed the performers rather than the form, but through a formal structure. All our dancers look individual. They look and act like themselves. There's very much of an aliveness to their interactions."

Tickets to "A History" are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, $15 for students and $10 for University of Illinois students and youths high school age and younger.

For information, call 333-6280.

As for the installation, admission to it is free. It will be open in the Tryon Festival Theatre foyer from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, and 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to after the performance on Friday, Feb. 8.

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