Actually, visiting choreographer Amanda Miller wasn't part of that ADF MFA thesis performance... | Arts

Actually, visiting choreographer Amanda Miller wasn't part of that ADF MFA thesis performance...

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. . . until her unprofessional conduct made her its momentary focal point.

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You know, I really prefer reviewing dance to reviewing members of the audience. Unfortunately, Miller's left me little choice, given her own poorly improvised solo during an ADF MFA student's thesis performance last Friday afternoon.

A dance professional should have known -- and done -- better. Contretemps ahoy, after the break.

Click 'more' for the lowdown.

For those who've not been introduced, Miller was a founding member of William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt and her own pretty ugly dance (the company's actual name), lately based in Cologne, Germany.

On Friday she was also sitting on the edge of the “stage,” a square stone portico on Duke’s west campus lawn, chatting away with a friend while dancer Kate Abarbanel was performing Wendi Wagner’s “…before.”

Miller was so engrossed in her conversation, in fact, that she didn’t realize that Abarbanel, who’d been methodically covering the entire space with her movements, had just reached a point a few inches directly behind her back.

Which was when I said, Maybe you should move if you’re not part of the performance.”

Miller paused, looked me over for a moment or two, and calmly said, “What if I am part of the performance?”

She didn't move an inch. Instead, she returned to the conversation she found more important than the performance a dancer was having to adjust to accommodate her presence.


You've got to admit it, of course: She certainly put me in my place.

And in doing so, Miller also put the dancer, the choreographer and the dance work they were trying to perform in their places as well.

I checked the program notes later on. Surprise: she wasn’t a part of Wagner’s MFA thesis performance — until, that is, she suddenly was.

Nor, I later found, did she apologize to the dancer or choreographer.

Such uncompromising statements of taste — not to mention professional conductclearly entitle anyone to do the same to Miller in any of her performances.

Perhaps such a moment will give her the chance to display the same European sang-froid — or low-brow American boorishness — again.

One may hope, at any rate.

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