“… the choreographer stands downstage center with her arms slowly crossing in front of her body. Pride and dignity flesh out her expression. She eyes herself with satisfaction.

Miller hasn’t done very much–not enough for you to form an opinion–yet you look on with a feeling of disquiet and expectation. These first few seconds are a sort of introduction, Miller’s way of giving the audience a chance to look her over. “So,” she suddenly asks, “Now you know me, right?” You search yourself for an answer, your mind rattling off the obvious: black, female. Her dancers assemble like party-goers behind her, awkward, self-conscious. You’re just getting over her initial query when a voice-over pelts you with more questions: “Who of you are looking for, the gay men in the group? Who of you are counting, the white people?” Then she dissolves into the gathering of dancers. A song from the hip-hop group The Fugees bursts in and the party–or performance–begins.” – Dance Magazine, Kevin Giordano, May 1, 1999

Going to the Wall

Going to the Wall explores questions of race, identity and gender in the context of the current, ongoing discussion on race and culture.  The work features eight dancers and uses layers of text and movement written and choreographed by Miller; groups of dancers assemble and dissolve in ever changing combinations to illustrate inherent conflicts, and unexpected consensus, surrounding these issues.

Don Byron, in his role as composer, observed the Company’s rehearsal process while developing and completing an original sound score.  The contemporary jazz score for this piece echoes the post-modern aesthetic in the choreography while continuing to use Miller’s text and the music of Nonchalant and the Fugees.

Bebe Miller also collaborated with a number of artists to create the visual environment of Going to the Wall.  Miller worked with Scott Pask to design the set, with Liz Prince to design costume pieces and with longtime collaborator Michael Mazzola to design the lighting.

Integral to the creation and development of this work were the dancers comprising Bebe Miller Company: Frances Craig, Sarah Gamblin, Anthony Philips, Cheng Chieh Yu, Darrell Jones, Ted Johnson, Steven Edwards and Melissa Wynn.  Not only did they provide the physical embodiment of Bebe Miller’s ideas, they also contributed to the creation of text and movement material.

Dramaturg Talvin Wilks was engaged early in the process to assist with development of text and movement, as well as development of the work as a whole.  Wilks also helped the Company to develop residency workshops, facilitate community group activity, and organize literary information and text components, allowing for an exchange of information between artists and audiences on the subject of race and culture.

Much of the initial choreographic material and text for Going to the Wall grew out of two Workshop Intensives that took place with the Company and artists Ishmael Houston-Jones, Laurie Carlos, Ralph Lemon, Ann Carlson, Pat Graney and Tere O’Connor in the winter of 1997 and the winter of 1998.

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    Bebe Miller Company
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