Gallim Dance makes Minnesota debut with "Blush" at the O'Shaughnessy

Gallim Dance makes Minnesota debut with "Blush" at the O'Shaughnessy
Steven Schreiber
It's happened to all of us: A moment of intense emotion -- be it embarrassment or shame -- that we can't hide because the veins in our face have dilated in response to some psychosocial cue. We turn red and hot. We blush. And we can't control it. Thankfully, this usually only lasts for several seconds.

Now imagine a blush that builds in intensity and emotion over the course of an hour. New York choreographer Andrea Miller has, and the result is "Blush," a 60-minute work for her company, Gallim Dance. Created in 2009, the piece "can have a few interpretations," says Meredith (Max) Hodges, executive director, stepping in for Miller who just gave birth to her first child.

"One is to imagine how blood from the heart, or the core of your body, would journey for 60 minutes before crashing through to the skin -- what that inner process would be like," Hodges says. "The title 'Blush' also reflects the emotional arc of the piece. It starts in a very cold emotional place, a place of detachment and isolation, and then builds to feelings of greater magnitude. Throughout the work you get highs and lows, struggle and grief, and anger and joy."

On Saturday, Gallim Dance makes its Twin Cities debut with "Blush" at the O'Shaughnessy as part of the Northrop dance season. However, Miller's work isn't new to the Twin Cities. Zenon Dance Company has commissioned two pieces from her over the years that are now in the repertory: the exuberant yet edgy "Booba," set to music by Balkan Beat Box, and the dark, sexual, and razor-sharp "Picnic, Lightning," with music by Joy Division, AGF, and Chopin. "Blush" includes all of those qualities, while demonstrating "the virtuosity of our dancers and their athleticism," Hodges says.

Those who wear makeup sometimes add blusher to the cheeks to heighten coloring and infuse their complexions with a sense of excitement. In "Blush," the six dancers begin the work dusted with white powder. Over the course of the piece -- 60 minutes of non-stop exertion to music by Mannyfingers, Andrej Przybytkowski, Chopin, Kap Bambino, Arvo Part, and Wolf Parade -- the powder ends up on the floor, shed by the dancers who progressively become more red and sweaty.

The genesis of the piece occurred during a David Byrne concert, Hodges says, when Miller found herself watching a girl "who had just let herself go in the ecstasy of movement. This girl was dancing with pure abandon and joy. Andrea looked at her and thought, 'Wow, I have not felt that way in a really long time.' So the making of the piece, for Andrea, was about finding her way back to those depths of emotional feeling from a place of emotional coldness in her own life."

There are moments of detachment and coupling, precarious balances and fractured gestures, crumpling and contortion juxtaposed with lean and splayed movements, quicksilver flight, and rigid floor poses in the work. A former performer with Batsheva Dance Company, where she absorbed choreographer Ohad Naharin's distinctive technique known as Gaga, Miller has since been innovating her own rigorous movement vocabulary that's explosive, seductive, and smart.

The emotional impact of "Blush," Hodges says, is "like a sine curve, mathematically speaking. There's a neutral baseline, but the emotional arc of the piece goes high above and way below in ways that clearly resonate with audiences."


Gallim Dance
8 p.m. Saturday, October 12
The O'Shaughnessy, St. Catherine University
For tickets, call 651-690-6700 or visit

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O'Shaughnessy Auditorium

2004 Randolph Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105


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