Interview with Sam Miller, President of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

June 2, 2015 | By Nicole Birmann Bloom

Sam Miller, President of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, sheds some light on his artistic choices and future cultural exchanges in an interview with Nicole Birmann Bloom, Program Officer, Dance and Theater at the Cutlural Services of the French Embassy.


Nicole Birmann Bloom (N.B.B.): When did you meet Emmanuelle Huynh and what interested you in her work and in this specific performance?

Sam Miller (S.M.): I met Emmanuelle about two years ago when she came to New York to discuss her ideas for a new piece that would involve NYC-based collaborators. Then I saw her amazing performance, A VIDA ENORME/ÉPISODE 1, at Danspace in May 2014. After further discussions with Emmanuelle we agreed that it would be fantastic if Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) could present this new piece, which became Cribles/Wild Governors in the 2015 River To River Festival. The fact that we were able to provide residency support for the development of “Cribles” and that the work connects to NYC as both a site (on the bucolic Governors Island) and via collaborative relationships makes it an exciting project for our Festival. Additionally, I’m pleased to say that Eiko Otake, another River To River artist has been working with Emmanuelle and we will invite audiences to an artist talk with the two choreographers on June 28.

N.B.B.: Could you describe these exchanges with France, their place in the mission of LMCC, and potential plans for other international relationships?

S.M.: In my work over the last 25 years, at Jacob’s Pillow, NEFA, and now LMCC, I have been committed to multi-year, reciprocal relationships between choreographers from the US and other countries with a consistent emphasis on an exchange between artists from France and the US.

LMCC is, in many ways, ideally suited to deepen and advance these exchanges. Our combination of artist residencies and public engagement programs allows us to facilitate an exchange of ideas, a sharing of creative process, and the presentation of finished work. This kind of layered dialogue, both artist-to-artist and artist-to-audience is central to our mission. We hope that our work with artists including both Emmanuelle Huynh and Emmanuelle Vo Dinh and other partners in France including the Mairie de Paris, and our festival colleague Frederic Bonnemaison at Entre Cour et Jardins will serve as examples for ongoing work with France and with other strategic international partners.

N.B.B.: What would you suggest to reinforce and improve international exchanges?

S.M.: It is labor and costs intensive work for artists and organizations, particularly in dance and contemporary performance, to engage in sustained, thoughtful exchange projects. It is hard to develop and maintain the capacity, human and financial, to fully realize these projects and the opportunities that they provide. This is not news. For example, in the US, we should improve the lacking policy and capital framework required to effectively promote and support the exchange of artists and their ideas across borders, culture, and traditions.

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