By Kristin Schwab | Photography by Lucas Chilczuk
n a picturesque, treelined street in Brooklyn, NY, sits the Church of St.
Luke and St. Matthew. Most people stroll by without glancing twice; they
don’t know that beyond its large wooden doors lie not just church pews but
also squeaky gray marley.
Inside, Gallim Dance is reconstructing a piece made last summer, Practicing
Awe, which explores one of life’s most complex and elusive emotions. The space is
as quiet as it is softly lit, with large, white paper lanterns strung across the ceiling.
Seven dancers, clad in everything from sweatpants to patterned dresses, huddle
around artistic director Andrea Miller, who is giving notes. “It should be like you’re
receiving some transcendence,” she says. “Like there’s been some kind of change.”
Change recently became a big part of Gallim Dance’s own narrative. The
troupe—on both the artistic and administrative sides—is not the same one
Miller started back in 2007. What began as a DIY dance company has expanded
to include a full administrative team, a permanent physical home and a loyal fan
base. Audiences and dancers are drawn to Miller’s work because it balances
impressive physicality with intimate conceptual questions.
Gallim started as many troupes do: Miller got a bunch of friends together to make
dances. But the consistency of the dancers’ involvement—most of the founding
members stayed with her for six years—helped Gallim stand out early on. “I didn’t
know what might happen with the company,” says Miller. “But I knew from the
beginning that I would do my best work with the same group of dancers, so we
could always advance the language.”
Though the company appeared stable from the outside, there was still a large
amount of puzzle-piecing keeping it together on the inside. Rehearsals were deter-
mined by what kind of studio space Miller could afford. Residencies were more like
campouts; dancers had to bring their own bedding and cook family-style meals.
“There is something beautiful about the grassroots, self-starting energy the first