In Memoriam

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Jamie Miller ’64

Jamie Miller ’64, August 14, 1999, from a brain tumor. Jamie attended Reed for one year in 1960–61, and was a dancer and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 35 years. Throughout her career, she was committed to the creation of community and to the celebration of the diversity of human culture. As a solo artist and as a director, she created work for a wide variety of audiences. She received her early dance training at the Dance Theater of Los Angeles, founded by Lester Horton and the first permanent home for modern dance in the United States. She also studied the work of Martha Graham through Gloria Newman at Sark Studios. Jamie later studied the Hawkins Technique with Ruth Botchan, and Creative Body Alignment with Andre Bernard. In 1965, she began performing and teaching belly dance and creative movement in the Bay Area, first at the New Dance Workshop and later as codirector of Berkeley Moving Arts. Her unique teaching method incorporated elements of dance, yoga, acting, improvisation, and ideokinesis. In 1973, as Sabah, she founded the Sabah Ensemble, a performing troupe comprised of her advanced belly dance students. She produced Middle Eastern music and dance concerts, and performed in nightclubs, restaurants, convalescent homes, hospitals, prisons, public schools, fairs, women’s centers, and in art museums. A series of performances, starting in 1976, led to the creation of original solo movement works: “The Erotic Suite,” “The Goddess Suite,” and “The Core Suite.” In 1981–82, Jamie produced "Trilogy," a performance of all three suites. The “White and Gold Dance” (1984) and “Al Sabah” (1985) continued her multicultural exploration—one of the main expressions of her art. Both dances, based on the ancient form of belly dancing, used traditional music of the Middle East, as well as jazz and Latin- and Indian-based music, to make a statement about the universality of the human experience. Affirmation of the feminine principle as it lives in each of us was another important current of Jamie’s work. In 1987, she began leading Goddess Workshops, in which participants used dance to empower and integrate their feminine energies. In 1985–88, Jamie was an artist-in-residence at the San Francisco city and county jails, where she taught and performed belly dancing, modern dance, and improvisation to the hundreds of women incarcerated there. In 1994, she received her teaching credential from Holy Names College and worked as a middle school teacher in Oakland. “To me, dance is life,” Jamie wrote. “Movement is life, and the whole importance of dance is to help us celebrate the process that happens to us as creatures of the earth. The connection to the earth through dance is one of the deepest ways for us all to celebrate the planet. By dancing, you can get a perspective of your place in the universe as part of the energy flow.” [Memorial by Jim Kahan ’64.]

Appeared in Reed magazine: online only

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