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Meet Allie Miks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allie Miks.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Whew, I have a lot to thank for where I am today. Movement has always been a part of my life— from the living room performances to the stage, I’m lucky to have found joy through dance at a young age. While it has been a constant source, dance didn’t take precedence for me until I started going to high school and joined an after school arts program. Through my mentor at the time Julie Carson, I learned about modern dance and discovered the intricacies of choreographing movement. From there, I knew that dance was worth pursuing for me and enrolled at Santa Monica College with the hopes of transferring after two years to an undergraduate program. Of course, life has a funny way of playing out and I ended up staying at SMC for much longer than two years.

While the societal norm around dance is the assumption that it is an easy route, especially in the academic realm, the reality for many dancers is that it can take a large toll on both mind and body. After enrolling at SMC I started to feel inadequate to pursue dance at the collegiate level and therefore mainly focused on my transfer requirements and working in retail. However, I didn’t let go of dance completely during this time— mostly participating in Global Motion Dance Company at SMC, learning about Indonesian dance from Bu Sri Susilowati and returning to Polynesian styles of dance from my former Kumu, Keali’i Ceballos. After a few years and some reassessment of my major, I auditioned for SMC’s other dance company, Synapse Contemporary Dance Theater where I also performed and choreographed. Not long after this, with encouragement from my faculty and peers, I finally gathered the courage to audition for transferring as a dance major. I happily transferred to my top choice, California State University, Long Beach in the fall of 2017.

All this to say, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the experiences I had going to a community college as long as I did. There can be a certain stigma around two-year colleges that refrain students from wanting to attend, and I encourage everyone to fight the elitist prospects that come with this reputation; in my experience, junior college was an affordable way to explore my options fresh out of high school. I am so grateful for all of the people I met and learned from during my time at SMC, and would not change it for the world. With dance being such a demanding art form, and the push and pull I had mentally in deciding whether I was worthy to pursue it, this was a necessary step on my journey. In the end, it became clear to me that I could never let go of movement and that I could not see myself in any other field.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
So, I just recently graduated from CSULB with my BFA in Dance at the end of 2019 and was starting my journey this year to figuring out my path after a lifetime of school. With the pandemic, a lot of the dance world as we knew it went on hold, and for a while it had felt like my life had as well. Movement artists are constantly reminded that this is a risky business, it is not an art form that you are going to be making a lot of money with alone (as artists are often under-appreciated and underpaid) and Covid19 served as a big reminder of that for artists in all fields.

Dancers are often social creatures, we crave touch and the ability to move with others, to share space. We love a designated place for us to move in and the chance to navigate through each other on the dance floor, learning from one another by seeing, listening, and feeling. We love being in a fulfilling choreographic process, having the opportunity to perform on stage or in front of a camera, the journey from the rehearsal to the final round in full costume. We love to train our mind and body, discovering how we like to move and express ourselves, memorizing choreography, admiring styles of influence take shape. We love music, to research art and find something to dance for and about. We love our communities, the people we connect with and make art with, uplifting others and supporting each others’ creations. This is what makes the dance world work and what brings dancers to this visual art form; it’s what I admire about dance.

With the pandemic, we are currently unable to do a lot of this; many of us don’t live with other dancers to move around with, some don’t have a dance floor or the space to move in where they live, classes are mostly held virtually (several dance spaces in LA have begun to close down in the past few months), and audiences cannot gather to watch us perform. I think a lot of people are not aware of how much the pandemic has hit the dance community.

However, we’re also adaptable beings and with this collective struggle, dancers have overcome a lot. There have been virtual performances, virtual or small-cast dance films, outdoor classes and shows, and community Zoom gatherings and jam sessions. This has been a time for many dancers to finally rest and recuperate. Some dancers look at this as an opportunity to find other ways to be creative and to explore what makes us artists in this field. For many, 2020 has given us a chance to stand up and fight for social justice with the uprisings in our country, and a time to assess how this should take place in our dance community as well. While we cannot see what lies ahead for the future of dance, I know that this has been an immense moment for change. I am certain that when it is safe for us to gather again that the dance field will be stronger and that we will be ready to offer our artistic endeavors to the world in a way we never would have been able to before. I’m excited for what will come.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am an artist that focuses on movement. I perform, choreograph, photograph, and teach. I am known for work that emphasizes collaboration amongst other artists: movers, musicians, designers, actors, visual artists, filmmakers. I believe that dance evolves from a culmination of personal histories that come together to inspire and inform movement. In this sense, I have found that art of any medium is a testament to the artist’s personal history and true, authentic self.

Through the involvement of other dancers in shared space, I facilitate choreography that incorporates our personal backgrounds with various subjects from the human experience and mental health. I enjoy experimenting with other collaborators to influence and generate work that feels vulnerable because of their own connections created within the process. Our distinctive backgrounds are what make us who we are today; it affects the way we move, think, and act, and I find it to be the most fascinating way to navigate through art and dance.

What were you like growing up?
Oh, I was quite shy which has maybe manifested myself to being the reserved person I am today. As an only child, I found different ways to keep myself occupied growing up. I am so grateful that I have always been a part of the arts as a child— through dance, theater, and music and that this exposed me to different ways of expressing myself.

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Image Credit:

Photo credit to: Gregory R.R. Crosby, Matthew Genecov, Kate @kay.eight, and Allie Miks7

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