Not many get the opportunity to have a year-long residency at the Metropolitan Museum twice, unless you are Andrea Miller, who’s the visionary behind this year’s Met Breuer performance as well as a full-time mother, choreographer, and founder of GALLIM, a Brooklyn-based dance company.
As a choreographer for The Met as well as her other GALLIM pieces, Miller has had to learn how to balance a life that does not follow the typical 9-5 schedule. Yet, she realizes there are pros and cons to her unique lifestyle.
“There’s a lot of traveling [and] irregular hours. It’s not a 9-5 job and a lot of the world is set up like a 9-5 lifestyle, [which] means that I’m asking and getting a lot of support from my partner [and] from my family to help in those times in which I’m on tour or I need to be somewhere,” Miller says. “But also, what’s great about it is I can have weeks off where I can be there for my children and be there in the moments where a 9-5 job might make it more difficult to be flexible.”
Prior to starting a family, Miller was surrounded by people who did not have children, so she understands the dilemma that many individuals face nowadays–debating on whether to focus on their career or start a family. In the end, Miller decided: Why not do both?
“Seeing that many of my teachers did not have children, I thought I had to choose between having a family and having dance,” Miller says. “Many people might feel this with their work, but for me, dance is a true love, it’s who I am, it’s not what I do. It was scary to think I had to choose to give up dance if I wanted to have a family, or vice versa.”
As a mother-of-three, Miller has learned how to handle crazy situations, in which she encourages full-time working parents to embrace every moment that comes at you–whether it is good, bad, or anything else in between.
“Be kind to yourself,” Miller says. “There’s going to be times where it’s a mess, and then there’s going to be times that you feel the ground is underneath your feet and you’ve got this, so just be aware that life has those ups and downs and to do your best to be kind to yourself and to reach out and ask for help.”
The dance industry has limited parental role models; Miller is changing that stigma in order for her dancers to understand they can balance work and family if they choose to do so. Thus, Miller is breaking down the walls that have kept motherhood and work life separated for so long.
“I would breastfeed in the studio, and I never saw that–it was completely out of sight, nonexistent,” Miller says. “I have this opportunity to show my dancers that there’s a way to do it and if they want to have children, my company, at least the culture that I hope to develop, is going to be one that will support them in a way they can continue dancing in whatever way they wanted to.”
The Artist in Residence performance, which will have its world premiere in New York from May 18-20 and May 22-24, will show audiences dance in its purest art form. Bringing together art, movement, and architecture through the medium of dance, Miller hopes to build inspiration for viewers throughout the three gallery spaces.
“The inspiration is the body,” Miller says. “Not the body in the clinical and anatomical sense, but the body as an experience, as an individual, as a partnership–an experience in the collective.”
For more on Andrea Miller and her performance series at the Met Breuer, visit gallimdance.com.