Re: Invitation to private presentation

Jeff Miller (
Tue, 10 Nov 1998 16:52:03 -0500

It may be an old subject, form vs. content, but is sure seems fertile. I agree
with the idea that sometimes the technology is both over-emphasized and
over-rated. However, I have to take issue with the statement that "dance should
stand on it's own when the electricity goes out". Some dance should,
certainly. But the pieces that I've created, for the most part, have some
technological aspect that is completely integral to the piece. To take it out
would be a different creation--sort of like asking a painting to appear just as
beautiful in the dark.

I also want to emphasize that we do have tech embedded in our assumptions about
dance. Just because it isn't the latest fetishized media buzzword doesn't mean
that the sound systems, lighting grids, raked theatres, printed programs,
artificial fibers in costumes, machine-made dance shoes, or even dance floors
aren't high tech. We've just learned to take them for granted (when's the last
time a reviewer commented on how great the sprung floor worked?). Now we're in
the middle of this "Information Age" with so much flying around and entire
occupations being created and destroyed almost it is, in my view, a
blessing that we can use some of these same buzzwords to not only draw attention
to dance and also to continue to spur it's growth. Remember when synthesizers
came out? People were mourning the death of the "live" musician--and it
resulted in a boom for acoustic music and performance. If we're lucky, the same
may work for dance.

Incidentally, there's a funny thing happened last weekend. I presented a
collaborative piece with AJ Niehaus at the student choreographer's showcase that
was referred to by several people (both dancers and non-) as things like
"avante-garde, cutting edge, a "new" face of dance" . The funny part is that it
was the most low-tech piece in the concert. The 4 halogen lights were done live,
off the cuff, by me operating sliders (as opposed to the rest of the show which
was pre-programmed light cues). Costume was a nude leotard. Music was an
electric guitar played live through a small amp (as opposed to the CD played
through the house system for the rest of the pieces). Yet if you asked people
what the most "technological" piece of the concert was, they'd probably point at
ours. People don't see the tech around them, or in front of them.

Done ranting for now,
Jeff Miller

p.s. Niels--the reason to recreate the sound of the Alps is for people like me,
who may never get to go there. It is through the designs of artists like you
that I can catch a glimpse of the emotional impact such worldly wonders have.
You are privileged to be able to experience it for yourself--share the