DDP Talks To Andrea Miller (Founder and Artistic Director)

GALLIM Moving Artist Parent Residency

This past fall, GALLIM celebrated its 15th anniversary with a performance at the Chelsea Factory. Now they return to the Joyce for the first time since the pandemic, with a mixed bill program, May 31-June 4. Since its founding, the company has stood out as a groundbreaking interdisciplinary organization, described as a “home for creative discovery, acceleration, and delivery of new work by providing support, consultation, and programming for individuals, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and brands.”  How did such an innovative organization begin?
The dream behind GALLIM began 15 years ago and was written into the name. GALLIM means waves in Hebrew and the hope behind this name was to create a medium that could hold the ideas and wisdom of many dance artists, students, and community members. The dream was that just as waves are majestic, innumerable, and unstoppable— so could be the singular heart and craft of each artist at GALLIM. That we could be like surfers, carving an uncertain path together and individually through the movement and moment of our times. 

Movement is my medium and dance has been my community. The art I want to create starts from this place and participates in larger conversations, questions, and dimensions of our human experience. Practically, this means I seek to place movement in spaces that can activate and impact our inquiry about existence, body, and presence with each other. This often means collaborating across disciplines, communities, and places that I can feel unfamiliar with. I let movement be my bridge to understanding, searching for meaning, and connection. My hope is that GALLIM will continue to grow to become a home for the exchange of movement knowledge across disciplines. Movement is our chance for being.

What are some of GALLIM’s most significant accomplishments from the past decade and a half?
I feel immensely proud of many things GALLIM has accomplished. At this moment I am feeling very inspired by our internal process looking at who we are as a company, who we are serving, how well are we doing that, and how can we do it better. The outcomes of this process have made a lot of impact on and clarity to our work and mission: We are an interdisciplinary organization expanding movement expression through live and digital art, education, and community building, a nexus of creativity for artists, educators, students, and audiences, making meaningful contributions to life and culture through movement.

There is still so much to do but it has been an inspiring time and I feel our dedication to supporting art-making, education, and community building is so alive and growing deeper each day.

One example of this is in our pioneering Moving Artist Residency and Parent Residency  which are process-based residencies designed to holistically support movement artists by offering fully-funded, safe, and private space, an artist stipend, and mentorship & promotional support. This is at the heart of GALLIM. We have been dedicated to dance education since day one and it’s so satisfying to see how this area of our work continues to evolve.

In a personal creative capacity, each creative process teaches me, changes me, and a few make such a deep impact that I can clearly outline their influence in my personal artistry and the vision at GALLIM. Works that come to mind that have given us the opportunity to flex, go deep, and take risks would be my residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I created Stone Skipping, a site-responsive piece for the Temple of Dendur, and Carbon, a performance installation for the full 5th floor of the Met Breuer. Also on this list would have to be YOUR ARE HERE, a sound, sculpture, and performance installation for Lincoln Center created in 2021 featuring 25 community members processing the pandemic through breath, music, theater, and dance. For this project, I collaborated with brilliant creatives including Justin Hicks, Lyndsey Peisinger, and Mimi Lien as well as all the constituents of Lincoln Center and arts organizations across the five boroughs of New York. These works will forever be part of me.

In addition to being GALLIM’s founding artistic director, you are the first choreographer to be named Artist in Residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and have been commissioned to create works for New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Pennsylvania Ballet, A.I.M, Rambert2, Ailey II, and The Juilliard School, among others. Can you describe your approach to choreography and how it influences the company’s body of work?
Personally, I make to understand. I believe that expression through art is an essential work in the labor of hope, understanding and transcendence, or at least joy. Ultimately the opportunity I search for in my work and the approach to my work is to let people – audience and artists – feel seen, connected, transported, and to be held and pushed along a process that allows and invites you to experience yourself in a place of inquiry. I always find my way back to the essential questions and feelings of human existence; it’s here that I find a dance and tension that keeps me inspired.

GALLIM’s values manifesto includes principles of collaboration, movement, creative process, inquiry & search for meaning, interdisciplinarity, and diversity, equity & inclusion. How do these guidelines inform not just the company’s work but also GALLIM’s education and residency programs?
I believe that movement is our truest vehicle for expression and reveals things we otherwise do not have access to. It is the most direct channel to each being’s complexity and uniqueness. So our work in education is focused on movement artists, and supporting movement expression to be interdisciplinary, inclusive, and accessible. Because my work is always created in cross-pollination with different artistic disciplines, our work in movement education often includes multiple artistic perspectives- for instance, our film studies series Dancing with the Camera, Movement for Actors, Acting for Dancers, and open-level classes for people who aren’t training to be dancers.

The GALLIM Moving Artists Residency program originated as a response to the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on women, non-binary, transgender, and gender nonconforming creatives, and specifically people of global majority. We are trying to offer a space that honors these artists and uplifts their creative journey. The residency is designed to give early career artists time and space to explore their creative ideas and invite them to identify what would most nurture their growth in creation, research, training, and development. We are trying to create a space for community, inquiry, and creativity, for historically underrepresented movement artists, and intend to keep making more space.

Recently, GALLIM held a Winter Intensive teaching the company’s methodology and repertoire. You also regularly offer in-person and virtual classes, as well as other seasonal intensive programs. What does a typical class at GALLIM look like? Similarly, what does the company’s methodology emphasize?
Our methodology is based on the principle that movement = consciousness. Movement is our way to learn and understand. We take the time to develop our skill and our craft through a practice that awakens the body, its emotion, its animal, and its fantasy. Each day we put the puzzle together again and again, learning from yesterday and diving into the unknown of today. Technical virtuosity, creativity, collaboration, personal expression, and compositional awareness are all key elements of my methodology.

One of the cornerstones of your organization – the Moving Artist Residency – is a “process-based NYC studio residency offering fully-funded, safe and private space, an artist stipend, support for mentorship sessions, and promotional support.” Can you tell us more about this residency, how it developed, and the artists it supports?
The Moving Artist Residency program originated as a response to the disproportionate impact the pandemic had had on women, non-binary, transgender, and gender nonconforming creatives, and specifically people of global majority. Today the Moving Artist Residency supports early-career Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Latino/a/e, and people of global majority movement artists who are women, non-binary, transgender, and gender nonconforming. The residency is designed to give artists time and space to explore their creative ideas and invite them to identify what would most nurture their growth in creation, research, training, and development in what we hope is space for inquiry and creativity. The residencies are directed by Yara Travieso, a Brooklyn-based Cuban-Venezuelan artist drawing from a kaleidoscopic womanist lens, and resident artists are selected by a paid panel of working artists.

An important aspect of the Moving Artist Residency is mentorship support, establishing a mentorship relationship early in a career is invaluable. Our resident artists select their own mentors, with assistance from GALLIM when requested, and receive support for 6 sessions with them. We’ve found that these sessions can be transformative, and often equally valuable for the mentors. And we are aiming to create a structure around this time in which everyone’s time is valued and respected.

Recently, you’ve developed a second residency, the Moving Artist Parent Residency, which “holistically supports movement artists who are parents.” Why did GALLIM decide to offer parents this opportunity?
I am an artist and mother of two, as is our Executive Director and our Programming Director at GALLIM. We know intimately the major challenges artists who are parents face. Few arts organizations, and frankly our society as a whole, provide infrastructure and awareness to address these needs. There are many layers to this, but we wanted to directly acknowledge and highlight these parents making work and engaging in their movement practice. As a parent, I understand that maybe their work is being created in stolen moments, or in a different scale, or on the same scale, in a different time frame, with many obstacles, and so we can work with this understanding to try to shape something that fits what they are going through. With all of the herculean daily efforts it takes to raise a child, we wanted to say “we see you, we hear you, we know you are there, and here is a space for you.”

Your website explains that this residency developed from a recognition of the “challenges inherent in raising and nurturing a family while maintaining an artistic practice.” In what ways does GALLIM account for these unique challenges? What are some ways that the dance world as a whole can help support parents in the industry?
In this first year of this residency, the primary way we are accounting for this is through an additional childcare stipend beyond the artist stipend, and we work with the artists to understand their schedule in relationship to childcare obligations. Support for childcare is at the top of all of our feedback, as a necessity for artist parents. Many times parents can’t accept residency opportunities because they cannot afford or arrange for childcare. In the future, we hope to receive more funding for this residency and design the parent residencies to accommodate unique scheduling requirements – with mental health and physical wellness support as well – in addition to serving as a nexus for the larger community of parents working as artists.

The lineup of artists for your 2023 residency includes Cara Hagan – one of the mothers in dance DDP interviewed as part of our Moving Forces series. Your website explains that a panel led by Yara Travieso, Director of the Moving Artist Residency, selects these impressive residents each year. Can you offer any insight into how an applicant is assessed and how the panel goes about choosing residents?
Our residencies are directed by the multi-disciplinary movement artist Yara Travieso, who also establishes a review rubric and selects and supervises a paid panel of working artists. For the Moving Artist Parent Residency, the parent artists were all reviewed by other parent artists. We value a peer review process that is external to GALLIM. I can say that a lot of time and love is put into the review process, with consideration of the artist’s statement in a continuum, the proposed use of the residency, and the statement of significance in this moment. Our intent for this residency is that artists shape this space into what they most need in their practice, and we acknowledge that they are the experts in this knowledge. These residencies are not limited to choreographers but are open to movement practitioners of all types including performers, educators, healers, etc. The review process is something that Yara and GALLIM evaluate and amend each year to continue to keep improving our equitability and accessibility.

Your residency program was originally a response to the disproportionately harmful impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on minority groups. How does inclusion continue to inform your company’s work?
Inclusion is necessary for the creation of meaningful art that speaks to the many millions of different people who live in this city alone, and who are equally deserving of the transcendence I believe art can offer. It is clear that the systems are not set up for all people to thrive, have access, and be heard equally, so inclusion and equity are something we are looking at and addressing in all aspects of the organization.

What kind of feedback have you received for both the Moving Artist Residency and the Moving Artist Parent Residency? Do you have plans to further expand the opportunities you offer?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and reinforces that there is a real need for this kind of support. In a very product-oriented and product-funded arts industry, often by necessity, we’re trying to step back and look at the full picture of what it means to be an artist in this art landscape and country and city, and see how we can support the full picture, not just the performance. For the parents, funding and time have been the biggest challenges in the feedback we’ve received- the juggle. While we can’t add hours to the day, we want to keep looking at how we can understand the value of time to oneself, and the intricacies of what that means to parents.

“This residency acted as a void to scream into, a garden to cultivate ideas, and a space to craft meaningful work. I felt cared for while having agency because of this program’s freedom to accommodate my needs as a working artist and excavate the art I will take in my artistic path. I felt supported, seen, and appreciated the care and access to resources this residency and the artists involved provided.” – 2022 Artist In Residence 

What sort of impact have you seen DDP’s work have on the dance industry? How can we better help parents in the dance industry succeed? 
Applying research to inequities we all know exist, can really help people see things in a tangible way, and provides the facts to support efforts of change. The research DDP did on gender inequity in leadership and choreographic presence in dance companies was very influential in our formation of this residency program. We also love that your Moving Forces: Motherhood in Dance podcast allows people to speak and be heard. This combination of factualizing and contextualizing is powerful. We hope you continue shining lights on all of this.

Want to learn more about GALLIM’S Moving Artist Parent Residency? Visit their website here. Meet the 2023 Artists in Residence here