Meet Gibney Company’s Miriam Gittens

May 23, 2023

As a recent guest with chuthis., Miriam Gittens was a study in grace and understated power. She carved out space with exquisite precision and unwavering control as she moved through precariously unstable positions in Peter Chu’s Tracing Rhythms. Onstage with Gibney Company, she showcased a softer side of finesse in Johan Inger’s Bliss, as she melted into a hypnotic grand plié, luxuriating between tension and tenderness. Ever a chameleon, she also danced in works by Sharon Eyal + Gai Behar, Ohad Naharin, Sonya Tayeh, and Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond this season with Gibney Company.

Company: Gibney Company

Age: 27

Hometown: Fresno, California

Training: The Dance Studio of Fresno, The Juilliard School

Well-rounded: Gittens was deeply influenced by Sue Sampson-Dalena, owner of The Dance Studio of Fresno. “Sue is a powerhouse of a woman and always encouraged us to study all forms of dance: ballet, jazz, tap, African, and modern,” she says. “They have all informed my way of dancing.”

Transferable skills: During her teen years, Gittens honed her skills on the competition and convention circuit. “It was wonderful, especially the convention world,” she says. “You take multiple classes a day and learn so much material; it prepares you for creation-based work in a company.”

Mentorship: Peter Chu has mentored Gittens since she was 16. She launched her career with chuthis., his project-based company, and guested with the group most recently in 2022. “Miriam’s physical brilliance—her control, ease, and potency—is an enigma,” says Chu. “Her unassuming approach to how she crafts her artistry is exceptionally genuine.”

Building her repertory: After graduating from Juilliard, Gittens­ joined Canada’s Ballet BC as an emerging artist and danced with the company for four years, performing works by Aszure Barton, William Forsythe, Emily Molnar, and Crystal Pite, as well as Eyal + Behar, Inger, and Naharin. “I learned and grew so much more than I expected to,” she says. “We were thrown in, which was so bene­fi­cial. We were all so hungry.”

Back in the New York groove: After joining Gibney Company in 2022, Gittens quickly felt at home during one of her first performances dancing Inger’s Bliss. “I was back in New York where I spent my formative years with a new group of people and a new understanding of myself,” she says.

What her director is saying: Gibney Company director Gilbert T Small II continues to be impressed by Gittens. “Miriam has the technical prowess of a seasoned artist but is never bound or limited by her technique,” says Small. “She inspires the whole company and levels up the room. I believe she will be one of our future leaders.”
Her love of improvising: “I like diving into a direction that feels unnatura­l ­and finding my way back to center,” says Gittens. “I need to make sure that I’m not too comfortable.”

What drives her: “I want to continue to trust myself, understanding myself as a human in the studio and not leaving who I am as a person behind,” she says. “That is a vulnerable place to be: to bring my full self into each studio, each performance, each creation process.”

Spreading joy: When she’s not dancing, Gittens loves to bake—”mostly cookies and cakes,” she says. “It’s therapeutic, and I love bringing what I make to people I work with.”