Amy Miller

Interview Highlights

Q: What have you learned from being a director / being in a leadership position? What have been some pivotal moments for you?

For a long time I didn't want to be a leader because I thought leaders had to know everything in order to be effective, and I knew that I didn't know everything! . And it wasn't until really hanging around with Gina Gibney and seeing how she used her sense of leadership, not to act like she knew everything, but to ask a lot of really great questions, and to be the person who acknowledged that she needed support, and asked for other people's points of view. I saw she didn't know everything, and that she didn't act like she knew everything. The definition of leadership for me became this entity, this energy that realizes that galvanizing a lot of different perspectives together could be leadership. It’s the hard work of sifting through all that complexity, choreographing it together, and then offering something to the world that hopefully is of service and hopefully reflects as many different points of view as possible, because no one person can possibly see everything. We all have perspectives we are unaware of , and we need to acknowledge that and realize that perhaps our areas of unawareness  are different, based on our experience and the wealth of knowledge that we each have. A friend of mine, Thomas Moore, just used the term “wealth of knowledge” today and it just blew me away, in terms of a definition of equity, realizing that we all have different needs and different wealths of knowledge...

Q: What were your initial reactions and emotions to the shutdown?

We were in rehearsal with commissioned artists to get ready for our spring shows. And so it was a pivot from those performances to, of course, thinking about our personal safety right away. And huge respect to Gina for sensing right when that happened. We had an all staff meeting, and we decided we were going to start working remotely tomorrow. She galvanized the whole team, really emphasizing that we need to be clear about this and stay calm. So the staff moved online. Several days later, the classes were shuttered. We've been mindful of not saying canceled or shut and instead framing it in the mindset of suspending these moments while we continue to find other ways to work. I'm resonating very much with this idea of not just translating the work we're doing, but taking a moment to pause, taking a moment to soften the dizziness and the constant drive of expectation, and the assumptions about what the dance field looks like or what it should look like. At Gibney, we say “making space for dance.” We've now changed the end of that tagline so it can be literally anything like “making space for dialogue”, “making space for rest”, “making space for interaction”, "making space for complexity.” And that can all be housed. But I feel like we also need to realize that forward motion isn't always what's needed, or constant growth maybe isn't sustainable, and that we need these moments of breath. I think this is our pause moment. This is a chance to decide what we don't want to do anymore. This is a chance to acknowledge what hasn't been working, and to be transparent about challenges, to be realistic about what we feel is necessary and then talk to as many other people. That's why I love this platform and the work that you're doing, to talk to as many other people see where the patterns are that maybe we never saw before...
Read full interview here

Amy Miller is a NYC-based dancer, choreographer, educator and advocate. Formerly with the Ohio Ballet, she was also a founding member and artistic associate of Cleveland-based GroundWorks DanceTheater. Now a Gibney Company Director alongside Nigel Campbell, and a performing member of Gibney Company, Miller has facilitated numerous teaching residencies at Oberlin College, Brown University, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and Bates Dance Festival among many others. Miller also focuses on Gibney’s Community Action initiatives through facilitating movement workshops with survivors of trauma, conducting both local and international trainings for artists interested in engaging in social action, developing healthy relationship workshops for young people and raising awareness about the role of the arts in violence prevention. She has conducted Gibney’s Global Community Action Residencies at Mimar Sinan University and Koc University (Istanbul), University of Cape Town (South Africa), DOCH: School of Dance and Circus (Stockholm), MUDA Africa (Tanzania) and most recently in Gisenyi, Rwanda. She is an active member of the National Dance Education Organization’s Access, Diversity and Equity Committee, as well as Dance/USA’s Dance & Disability Affinity Group working toward National Initiatives. Miller has twice been a Dance/USA Mentor through their Institute for Leadership Training. Miller was honored to receive an Arts & Artists in Progress “Pay it Forward” Award from Brooklyn Arts Exchange. Miller holds a BFA in Dance and is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for her choreography.