How can we describe the impact of Distinguished Professor Bebe Miller on the field of contemporary dance, and especially, OSU Dance? At the end of autumn semester, faculty, staff and students tried as they gathered for a retirement send-off to thank Miller for a lifetime of creativity and innovation that she has shared with the Department of Dance since joining as a professor in 2000.
Anyone looking for direction on how to forge a remarkable path in the dance world can easily find inspiration in Miller. A native New Yorker, she first performed choreography at New York City's Dance Theater Workshop in 1978, after receiving her MA in dance from Ohio State in 1975. She then went on to form the Bebe Miller Company in 1985.
Since then, Professor Miller's choreography has been performed in venues across the country and internationally in Europe and Africa, and has been commissioned by countless dance organizations — from the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company to Phoenix Dance Company in the United Kingdom. Over the course of her career, Miller has been honored with four New York Dance and Performance BESSIE awards, a Wexner Residency Award, the Jameson Archival Advocacy Award, fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and the Guggenheim Foundation. She has also been a United States Artists Ford Fellow and a Doris Duke Foundation Artist.
As a Distinguished Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Ohio State, Miller has spent the past 16 years teaching students contemporary technique, improvisation, repertory, creative practice and choreography. And as a recent profile in Art Makes Columbus makes clear, she's also spent this time establishing herself as a unique creative force in the central Ohio community. But as her peers and students know, spending any amount of time with Miller means coming away more than just a better dancer.
"Bebe has been teacher and mentor to several generations of young artists who learn from her in the studio, as well as in passing conversation and critiques, and just imbibing the air around her," said Professor Susan Van Pelt Petry during the end-of-semester department gathering.
"Her place in the contemporary dance canon is firm, and her accolades are a testament to her rare combination of intellectual rigor, physical virtuosity, creative intuition and emotional intelligence. Bebe, we so honor you and will miss you, but have been so lucky to have had you along for the ride."
As Professor Miller moves on to life's next adventure, we thank her for countless contributions to our department, congratulate her on her retirement and wish her the best of luck!
Watch Bebe Miller's retirement send-off below: