Lauded as "refreshingly original" by Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times, choreographer Miro Magloire is the founder and artistic director of New Chamber Ballet.
Magloire has created over 60 ballets in his signature style for his company, all distinguished by sweeping elegance, a striking theatricality, and bold musical choices. "It's heartening to see work so focused on the meeting of dance and music,” Macaulay wrote in his Times review, “always you're aware of an intelligence at work that resists romantic cliché."
Known for his visionary collaborations with musicians - singers, violinists, pianists and large ensembles - Magloire has a special affinity for cutting-edge contemporary music, which has led him to work with many of today's leading composers.
Magloire, the subject of a 2008 full-page profile in the Sunday NY Times, recently received an O'Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation Grant. His works have been performed at Joyce SoHo, the Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out Stage, Roulette, Ailey/Citigroup Theater, the Center for Performance Research and the Museum of Art and Design, among other venues. He has collaborated with the Argento Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Moto Perpetuo, Ensemble Sospeso and, in addition, has created ballets for the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and the State Academy of Dance in Cologne, Germany.
Born in Munich, Germany, Magloire started his career as a composer. At age 17 he won the “Forum of Young Composers Award” in North Rhine-Westphalia, and went on to study with Mauricio Kagel at the Conservatory of Music in Cologne, Germany.
After relocating to New York to study Modern Dance at the Ailey and Martha Graham Schools, where his teachers included Yung-Yung Tsuai and Kazuko Hirabayashi, and ballet with Wilhelm Burmann and Peff Modelskiand among others, he turned his attention to choreography and in 2004 founded New Chamber Ballet.
Parallel to his dancing and choreographing career, he has worked as a dance accompanist for a host of companies and schools, most recently at American Ballet Theatre. He also trains and coaches accompanists, and has recorded and published 6 CDs with music for dance classes.
Photo by: Thilo Weissflog
Read a New York Times profile of Magloire (June 2008)
For a recent issue of the New Chamber Ballet newsletter, Miro Magloire replied to questions by New Chamber Ballet's current and former artists... (November 2010)
You recently traveled to Haiti. What was the most interesting or thought-provoking thing you saw there? (Emery LeCrone, choreographer in residence)
Haiti is the country of my ancestors, my father, my family. My relationship to it is complicated, with a strong emotional attachment along with maybe the feeling I don't really belong. I visit sporadically at best, yet each trip is the source of indelible (and sometimes extreme) memories. The absurd extent of destruction and collective trauma I encountered this summer, six months after the earthquake, certainly is such a memory, and perhaps this is not the right place to describe it. But a much earlier memory comes to mind when I think about my artistic life. As a child, the experience of traveling from 'rich' Germany to 'poor' Haiti left me with a deep mistrust of anything that requires a lot of money to exist. Perhaps my current desire to make art which doesn't require a lot of money can be traced back to those years.
You seem to have carved out a perfect life and profession for yourself, making use of all your talents and skills. Do you have any other hidden talents or passions, or did you ever consider doing something other than music or dance? (Melody Fader, pianist)
Hidden passions are dangerous. Dance started as my hidden passion. I was already 'married' to music; then dance came along, and before I knew it I fell in love. Now I live in a menage a trois with dance and music. Luckily, the two are very close to each other, so we all get along. But I've learned my lesson: no more hidden passions!
What was the book that you finished reading most recently? (Erik Carlson, violinist)
Actually, I do have a hidden passion: books. I read, obsessively, about any subject that interests me. On the train, or whenever I find the time. I just finished a book on Raphael; but by the time this newsletter goes out I may have finished a few more books, including two more about Raphael (by John Pope-Hennessy and Roger Jones), Gennaro Magri's 1779 Theoretical And Practical Treatise On Dancing, and a biography of Handel. Like I said: books are an obsession.
Are you ever interested in dancing in your own choreography? (Alexandra Blacker, dancer)
No! If I remember well, my very first choreography was a solo that I danced myself, to music by Vivaldi. That was my first and last time. Choreographing and dancing are two completely different things, and should be kept separate.
Which comes first in your choreographic process - music, steps, or a concept? (Victoria North, dancer)
The audience. The dancers interact with the audience, and I try to find a pattern, a form of interaction for them that has a strong impact. A step or a gesture can be striking because of its line, quality, musicality, dramatic content, or simply because of how it contrasts with what came before. Anything can be stunning if you do it the right way. It just takes forever to find that right way. Then there's the dancers. They determine what the piece will look like, because in a way, I try to shape them too. It's not always clear: do I choreograph a ballet, or do I 'choreograph the dancer'? It's a bit of both. And finally, music and steps come last. As for the concept… I avoid concepts. They get in the way of good solutions.
What is it about the chamber aspect of New Chamber Ballet that interests you? How does performing in a space more intimate then a theater effect the ballets you create? (Constantine Baecher, guest choreographer)
First, I believe that if you can't say it with three people, you can't say it with thirty. That's part of my musical background: almost all great composers have made their most profound statements in music for one, two, three, maybe four performers. Of course, with only three dancers you can't just send them on and off stage all the time; you really have to figure out what everyone's role is in your piece and then use them to the fullest. But that's a good thing. Then you have to create a situation where the audience can come see, hear, be moved by your performance. A stage, an empty space. There are different options. The idea behind a proscenium stage with theatrical lighting, for example, is to emphasize the separation between the performer and the audience, and I don't want that. I want the close proximity. There's a tension up close because the dancers are simultaneously real, living persons, and unreal creatures of art. To me that's an important part of experiencing dance. And dance is what I'm interested in: movements with music - not production.
Have you ever considered doing a "Broadway" piece, or a piece with voice? With the voices of the dancers, or with live singers? (Deborah Wingert, coach)
I used the voices of the dancers in Dreams. They were whispering and making clicking noises rather than speaking or singing. To this day I love programming this piece because it takes you into a completely different aural world. Very peaceful. Every time I make a ballet with my own music, it has a very special sound world. As if I'm choreographing for the ear as well as for the eye… But back to your question: working with singers is something I certainly would like to do one day, if an opportunity comes along.
Recently you have begun an exploration of narrative in your choreography. What inspired this new direction of abstract storytelling through dance? (Emily SoRelle Adams, dancer)
Storytelling is a challenge. Put two people onstage and we will read a story into it, whether you like it or not. But simply emoting on stage is cheap and rather limited. How can you describe relations of a certain complexity through dance alone? Is it possible to go beyond "I love you - I hate you?" In fact, beyond love? These are not new issues; but I now have the confidence to wrestle with them. Expect more experiments in that direction in the near future!
Word is that you are in the process giving yourself an in-depth tutorial of the complete scope of art history, and that you are currently ensconced in the Renaissance. How does your experience of the visual arts inform your choreography? Can we expect to see any influence of your recent trip to Italy in your current work? (Lauren Toole and Denise Small, dancers)
I am dealing with physical bodies in space; so did many painters and sculptors throughout history. But the artists of the Italian Renaissance did more than that: they showed movement. A flow of gestures, sometimes extreme gestures, arranged in an expressive, logical and harmonious whole. Hidden behind Madonnas, Saints and angels is a whole science of movement and its narrative potential. Going to Italy last month, seeing the paintings and sculptures in their original context - a glorious experience! I think you will notice the influence of this trip not only in my current work, but for the rest of my life…
Which critical theorist from the Frankfurt School would you like to invite to dinner and why? (Lauren Toole, dancer)
Theodor W. Adorno. We wouldn't talk about critical theory, about which I don't know anything. But about music, especially the composers Berg, Schönberg and Webern. Adorno briefly studied composition with Berg and remained a life-long friend, and I would like to hear him relate intimate stories about these three incomparable composers.
Where do you get those interesting triangle ties that you wear at the performances? (Amy Brandt, dancer)
They are from Italy, via Germany. There's a lot of mystery as to what they actually are, or what they're called. I went so far as to look them up on the company's own website. Well, they're not on the website. What's the secret of those ties? I am offering whoever will lift the mystery a pair of free tickets to a New Chamber Ballet performance.
Sir Laurence Olivier, absorbed by the physical appearance of characters, remarked that he knew how to develop the character properly once he had decided what the character's nose should look like. Is there some parallel notion guiding your work? (Mike Mee, dancer, Ballet Ithaca)
Somehow, this reminds me of the composer Morton Feldman, who said (I paraphrase) that he would write music like Mozart if he could only find the right chair and the right pen. I was in my late teens, and immediately set off to find out which pen Feldman was using. I know, I'm changing the subject. But I found the secret to solving artistic problems lies often not where one would suspect it. And so often, it starts out with an almost trivial realization. Feldman, for instance, used a 'Rapidograph,' an ink pen preferred by architects and engineers. John Cage used that pen too. I use a German pen called 'Stabilo point 88', a favorite of my late composition teacher Mauricio Kagel, and an assortment of pencils. I don't write music at the computer.