Curtain Up

March 20, 2011

What do we mean when we say “emerging choreographer”? Twyla Tharp was well known downtown in the late ’60s before she burst onto the ballet stage with , her collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet, in 1973. Bill T. Jones was one of five people designated as “emerging choreographers” at American Dance Festival in 1983—but I had seen amazing videos of him and Arnie Zane in 1977.


The term itself has become something of a joke. Sean Curran once said, “I have been an emerging choreographer for so long that I worry I will soon be a submerging choreographer.” And Gus Solomons has called himself a “post-emerging” choreographer.


Put in the best light, though, I think “emerging” means you still have the energy of a novice but you’ve got a few choreographic notches on your belt. You’re making discoveries with every endeavor, with every performance—and you’re still not sure where your next gig is coming from. In “Taking Off,” we interviewed six choreographers who are at that point—more or less.


Is Andrea Miller still emerging—or has she emerged? Her company, Gallim Dance, has performed in a few major venues, and she’s gotten a fistful of commissions. She has terrific creative energy, which I got to see first-hand at our photo shoot. In front of the camera, she morphed from elegant to sexy to goofy at the speed of light. There was no slow-down-and-hold-that-pose for her. When we got to her dancers, I saw another aspect of her brilliance. They are all such individuals! I’ve been blown away by how masterfully, in her work, she fits each zany dancer into her group structures. Read Susan Reiter’s “The Wild One” to find out how she developed an authoritative voice in such a short time.


Have you been bitten by the choreography bug but don’t know how to get started? Go to and click on “Choreography Knocks,” which lists more than 65 workshops, showcases, residencies, and competitions. And while you’re online, take a look at our list of women choreographers—we’ve topped 1,000!



Photo of Andrea Miller by Matt Karas