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Joan Miller
Born: 1936
Occupation: dancer, choreographer, instructor
Born and raised in Harlem, Joan Miller began dance training in a local troop of the Girl Scouts, performing folk and ballet work. While a Brooklyn College physical education major, she continued to study dance at the Jose Limon studio with Ruth Currier and Betty Jones. In the late 1950s, Miller continued to study with Limon, and went on to study choreography and work with Doris Humphrey, Louis Horst, and Pauline Koner.

Miller completed a master's degree at Teachers College, Columbia University (1960), and earned a professional diploma in dance from Juilliard (1962). From 1960 to 1967 Miller performed with Ruth Currier and was featured in Currier's "The Antagonists." Miller also began teaching at the Hunter College Bronx campus (later Lehman College) in 1963. Also in 1963 and in 1964 Miller danced with the Merry-Go-Rounders, a group that performed for children. From 1965 to 1968 she worked with James Waring, Remy Charlip, and Yvonne Rainer, members of the experimental Judson Church group. Between 1968 and 1970 she performed with both Rod Rodgers in African traditional dance and Rudy Perez, an exponent of avant-garde dancing.

In 1970, Miller founded her own troupe, the Dance Players, which became a forum for her socio-political ideas and satires. Her company enjoyed resident status at Lehman College from 1970 until 1980, from which time they stayed on unofficially and also performed in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The Dance Players' repertory consists primarily of Miller's creations, such as the 1970 solo, "Pass Fe White", and the group work, "Manhattan Thoroughfare 1980". Her company also performs works by Rael Lamb, Eleo Pomare, and her former student Abdel Salaam, director of the Forces of Nature Dance Company.

-- Julinda Lewis-Ferguson

Banes, Sally. TERPSICHORE IN SNEAKERS: POST-MODERN DANCE. Boston, 1980.
McDonagh, Don. COMPLETE GUIDE TO MODERN DANCE. New York, 1977.

Source Citation: "Joan Miller."ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND HISTORY. 5 vols. Macmillan, 1996. Reprinted by permission of Gale Group.