Exclusive Interview with Miryam Moutillet

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By Robyn Belt

In anticipation of the upcoming dance concert, I sat down with Union’s Dance Program Director Miryam Moutillet, an accomplished ballerina, modern dancer and choreographer. Moutillet expressed her excitement over the “cultural fusion” of her “Paris Danse” concert, which captures Parisian culture from the 1880s-1920s through dance and incorporates live music, singers and artistic projections that are part of a truly “collaborative effort.” Along with choreographers Marcus Rogers and Amber Woerner, “Paris Danse” will be sure to excite and intrigue the senses.

You have a very accomplished past as a professional dancer! How long have you been in Union’s dance department and how did you become a member of the faculty? How has the dance program changed since you came on-board as director?

In 2000, I accepted a part-time contract that grew into a full time Artist-in-Residence position with the creation of a minor in dance.  Union offered ballet and sometimes modern dance classes, but no academic courses. I believed that the best for Union was to embrace all dance styles for students of different backgrounds and interests.  Through the years, I have looked for diverse instructors starting with jazz and hip-hop to develop our program with choreography and fitness classes. It proved to be successful, and we have presently about 150 students attending dance classes each term.

Each year you explore unusual concepts and themes in your dance shows. Where do you find your inspiration?

It is hard for me to know where the concepts of my shows come from. They usually spark from living experiences that encompass traveling, wanting to know more about a subject, music, dance styles or just life in general. I am surprised by how it becomes a reality that I want to explore, research and finally stage.

The theme this year is “Paris Danse,” and I know I am not the only one excited by this concept! What about the Parisian culture of dance intrigues you the most?

There are two good reasons for me to make this Parisian show. First, I grew up surrounded by French culture. My father is from Lyon, I lived in Paris in the 1980s; it is my heritage. Second, I was going to work with Professor Batson co-teaching Staging Explorations in Theatre and Dance, and this was a perfect theme for us to develop together. We chose the captivating period of the 1880s-1920s in Paris when there was a fusion of all the arts.

Your dance shows usually incorporate several genres of dance. What can we expect to see this year? Did you find the variety of styles difficult to choreograph and bring to life?

The diversity of the dance styles is a way for me to show our students’ skills. I also add collaborators such as other choreographers, musicians and actors to produce a contemporary performance art creation. The shows are totally original work and it takes the commitment of everyone to make it a piece of art.

Is there any number in the show that stands out to you? What elements of the show are you most excited for the audience to see?

I never have a favorite number, I believe in all of them. I don’t really think about the result but mainly in the process of creating the material. I become attached to every single piece of the puzzle. The past five years, I have enjoyed incorporating live music into my shows. This year, we will have singers that will join the company.

“Paris Danse” will run from May 23 to 26 at Yulman Theater with nightly performances at 7:30 p.m. and one matinee show on Saturday, May 26 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets will go on sale starting May 9 and can be purchased at the box office or by calling (518)-388-6545.

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