Miro Dance Theatre’s Artistic Staff To Leave for A Six-Week Residency in Cambodia for Further Development of a New Project with Khmer Arts EnsembleNov 29th, 2010 | By Steven Weisz | Category: Artist News
Miro Dance Theatre Artistic Director Amanda Miller and Producing Artistic Director Tobin Rothlein are preparing to leave Philadelphia for a six-week residency in Cambodia in January. The husband and wife team are packing up to plant roots in Cambodia for a short period of time, to continue collaborating with famed Cambodian Dance troupe, Khmer Arts Ensemble to create an upcoming cross-cultural, multi-media concert length dance piece.
Miro Dance Theatre and Khmer Arts Ensemble are planning on teaching each other and the members of the companies the basic techniques of ballet, western contemporary and Cambodian classical dance. From the workshops, both organizations are working toward a collaborative style and a contemporary vocabulary that can be shared by both companies.
While Miller works with the dance side of the project, Rothlein will be delving into the multi-media side of the project. In Cambodia, he has been invited to do a solo exhibit in video work at Metahouse Gallery in Phonm Phen. He will also be working with young Cambodian visual artists, as well as creating some new work for the gallery showing. The show will be a combination of old and new work.
The ultimate goal of this project is to create a concert length work that will be set on both companies and performed in Cambodia, Philadelphia, and on tour. It is a four-year collaborative project that will involve both companies working together on a substantive movement and performance investigation and exchange in both Philadelphia and Phnom Penh.
Recognizing a commonality in their approaches to dance making, Khmer Arts’ Sophiline Cheam-Shapiro invited Miro to engage in the lengthy partnership. They have already begun a series of initial explorations that are aimed at familiarizing each choreographer with the other’s methodology and artistic ideas and determining where the intersections between the two companies lie.
Cheam-Shapiro spent a week with Miro in October and each visit includes periods of intense exploration for the choreographers as well as the dancers. This first trip to Cambodia and others that will follow provide a distraction-free environment in which to focus exclusively on developing a shared movement language that blends Miro’s brand of choreography – which is not fixed in one technique but rather uses multiple techniques as its base – with Cheam Shapiro’s modified Classical Cambodian style of dance. Miro’s intention is to “get inside” the bodies of the Cambodian dancers to understand what impulses give rise to their form of connotative movement and their impressive economy of gesture.
The project is a natural fit for Miro. This project is the next conceptual step for Miro, which is devoted to the investigation of the idea of looking backward in order to look forward. This concept is at the crux of the project; it will examine the influence of the past (the Eastern traditional and the Western classical) on the future in the company’s most thorough and elaborate treatment of the idea. In addition to looking simultaneously backward and forward, the project’s driving aesthetic idea is the power of minimal gestures. This is a hallmark of many Eastern dance traditions, and one which Miro would like to learn from, to adapt, and to integrate into its own work. While the overarching 4-year timeline of the project has production(s) as a long term goal, the tangible culmination of this planning and research period is a finite body of practice-based movement research.
This project is an ideal and timely undertaking for Miro for many reasons. It incorporates three elements which are very important to the company, and which have been under examination for some time: cross-cultural exploration, the concept of the past’s impact on the future, and the power of minimal gesture. Last year Miro created and performed “How Am I Not Myself,” a collaboration with Indian dancer/choreographer Viji Rao. Rao was trained in traditional Bharatanatyam dance, but as a mature dancer had taken strides away from this background. On a parallel timeline, Miro’s choreographer had trained in Classical ballet but had since diverged from it. Both Rao and Miller acknowledge their overwhelming debts to their primary training and its powerful traditions, and “How Am I Not Myself examined how the techniques of their pasts will always be a part of them, no matter how far they move in other directions. The fact that the Indian and the American experiences were so similar led to an interest to explore other cultural parallels, which fuels the Cambodia project.
About Miro Dance Theatre
Miro Dance Theatre creates and performs original work that explores the collaborative intersections of contemporary dance, video, and visual art.In 2004 dancer and choreographer Amanda Miller and video and visual artist Tobin Rothlein founded Miro Dance Theatre in order to realize their unique creative vision, and explore the intersections of contemporary dance, video, and visual art. Miller, with ten years experience as a dancer at the Pennsylvania Ballet and choreographic studies in Europe under Siobhan Davies, is at the helm of Miro’s choreographic exploration. Rothlein, whose work as video artist and visual designer for Rennie Harris Puremovement and others has garnered accolades nationally and internationally, oversees the company’s work in combining dance, multi-media and visual arts. Miro produces the work of Miller and Rothlein alongside special collaborations with invited friends and guests.Miro shares its vision with the general and artistic communities through outreach in the form of residency activities, open studios, workshops, master classes, and access to visiting artists. Miro believes in the importance of establishing creative and mutually beneficial partnerships with other organizations, individuals and artists in the communities where we live, work, and perform.