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Art & Life with Nelia Miller

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nelia Miller.

Nelia, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve been performing in musicals and plays since I was very little, but my artistic journey has veered pretty sharply away from those more traditional forms. I’m an interdisciplinary performer and creator and first started dabbling in experimental work while I was studying theatre and opera in undergrad – there was so much common vocabulary between the movement I studied in theatre and singing, but there was no established bridge between the two that linked opera and movement… so I started playing with the two. I moved to Chicago in 2013 and began training with movement-based artists, studying Suzuki, Grotowski, BMC, and developmental movement. I supplement these movement practices with voice lessons, working with both classical music and extended vocalization practices.

Can you give our readers some background on your work?
I like to play! I’ve been opening myself up to audiences a lot more this past year, and bringing them into my work to play along with me by breaking the fourth wall and not being afraid that jumping out of my storytelling will throw off the story – rather, it enhances it, and makes the story and the experience personable for the audience.

I’m always trying to reconcile the body and the voice. I create interdisciplinary work, messing around with classical vocal music, dance/movement, sound design, projection… I make all of these things myself and laugh at myself a lot as I’m trying to figure all of these pieces out, and that keeps me interested.

My work demands vulnerability and space for failure when presented to an audience who expects perfection. I push myself across the fourth wall with simplicity, humor, and awkward gesture as an artist in a nod to Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, Pina Bausch, Yoko Ono, and Karen Finley. I engage the audience on all levels until the uncomfortable journey of reconciling the body and voice is allowed rather than negated.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what quality do you feel is most helpful?
I think the ability to collaborate and listen is essential to being an artist. I’ve also found that the ability to turn my brain off and just DO has been essential in my creative process – sometimes I think too much, and in that thinking, there is more evaluating than doing. I have to remind myself that evaluating is the opposite of generating.  In terms of success, I’ll often ask myself:  Am I doing work I find interesting?  After a rehearsal, do I feel happy with the time I spent with the other people in the room?  I think ideas of success change over time; for me, my current measure of success is whether or not my team is communicating efficiently, and if my collaborators and I are having fun during the creative process.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I’m an ensemble member with Chicago Danztheatre, and will also be performing “Cetology” in 2019 – please check out my website and follow me on Facebook!

You can also find me in the comedy web series, The Studio, at

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Matthew Gregory Hollis, Sean Rafferty, Popio Stumpf

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