Inside the Imagination of Rising Choreographer Maya Billig
Maya Billig creates dances as a form of world-making. The dancer, choreographer and filmmaker has loved fantasy storytelling since childhood, her vision shaped by Miami’s clashing cultures and unique weirdness, plus years of her own solitary global travels. Billig’s vividly original inner realm bloomed during the pandemic, earning her multiple commissions, grants and residencies, as her lushly lucid movement, keen pictorial sense and gift for hauntingly idiosyncratic atmosphere have marked her as a striking new voice in this creatively surging city—and beyond.
Company: Her recently formed troupe, Billy Gee Dance Theatre
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Training: Miami ballet studios, competitive gymnastics, New World School of the Arts BFA, workshops in Europe, Australia and Israel.
Awards: Knight Foundation New Work 2020; Dance Miami Choreographers’ Award; Miami Light Project commissions for Here & Now Festival 2020 and the 2022 season; Deering Estate Artist-in-Residence 2020–21; Jacob’s Pillow Ann and Weston Hicks Choreographic Fellowship 2021; Adrienne Arsht Center Heart of Art 2020
Global dancer: Billig has explored 31 countries since she was 19, including a recent trip to Iceland, where she danced on the beach under the midnight sun. Her real-life voyages propel her creative journeys. “I’m so drawn to putting myself in completely different environments,” she says. “Any piece I make is an entire world. They’re surreal and have their own rules. When I make works, it’s a way of traveling without going anywhere.”
Inside her imagination: Her two latest commissions are Brink, inspired by Orson Welles’ radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds; and Gate Closes at 3:05, a postapocalyptic speakeasy inspired by such diverse sources as Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death and “Cowboy Bebop.”
What her biggest supporter says: Beth Boone, executive director of the Miami Light Project, who commissioned Brink and Gate Closes and has showcased five of Billig’s films at ScreenDance Miami, is captivated by her passion, adventurousness and discipline. “Maya’s always immersed in a deep exploration of her craft—pushing herself to expand her vocabulary as an artist, and her experiences as a human,” says Boone.
Body channels: For several years, Billig focused on making dance films. But as the world went digital, she was drawn back to the physical. “The dancer’s body is a vessel for communication, a finely tuned living map for storytelling,” says Billig, who began performing in her own works a few years ago. “During this time, more than ever, we’re in need of sacred spaces. The studio and theater are that for me.”