We had the good fortune of connecting with Haley Morgan Miller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Haley, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Growing up as a dancer or in any activity that requires tremendous outside of school hours can create a flow where it’s difficult to set this boundary between work and life. I danced 5 days a week after school in high school, and in college I worked 3-4 days a week after a full day of classes from early morning to afternoon. Because my life had always functioned in this method I never really experienced a true balance on the life side of the spectrum. When covid hit I was actually thankful for that initial moment of rest to sit down and reevaluate what works for me and why. I find that time for rest, hobbies, and social activities brings clarity to the work that I do. My perspectives can change, my inspiration can bubble up, and I can move with more ease. Bodily, this is balance is also vital to my health. The stress tension we hold onto in our muscles and our fascia can cause aches and pains beyond the stress of the mind. And as a person and a mover, I can better achieve my goals when I’m free and open. Whenever possible I find time for rest and allow what that means to be intuitive. There is no wrong way to rest as long as you’re enjoying your time free from the perpetual to do list. And there is nothing wrong with setting boundaries around your time of rest to ensure that it exists as you wish it does.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As an interdisciplinary artist, my creative passions expand down many streams. My first love will always be dance. I am currently dancing professionally with sarAika movement collective and Chloe Kastner Dance Company. Movement carries our history and our emotions and by embodying that, a dancer and an observer are able to touch places within themselves unreachable through other methods. That power holds an undeniable beauty I can’t get enough of. As a choreographer, I enjoy processes that feel fruitful for all of my collaborators. I tend to dig into research based questions through means of movement and writing. There are infinite ways of entering the choreographic mindset and I love to discover what works best for each piece individually rather than copying and pasting the same method every time I design movement patterns. My technologically generated art usually derives from a similar place as my choreography. Perhaps there’s a technical idea I want to learn, or one I’ve been chewing on for a while that inspires the narrative I’m researching. Or maybe I’m simply enjoying the playfulness of these creative software engines and stumble upon something that draws me in.
There’s something astounding about the power of following what’s calling you in life – trusting your gut. When I moved to NYC I attended the Valleto Dance Company summer intensive, and it was here that I met so many friends and joined a community that values love, and creates a healthy space for dance within the industry. From that jumping point, now only a few months later, my friend Ragin Smith and I have co-produced and creative directed a multidisciplinary art show featuring over 20 emerging artists and their collaborators, that presented work in both performing and visual arts. After selling out both shows, experiencing the joy of the community that attended, and witnessing the talent of the artists, I am beyond inspired and grateful. At this show, I premiered my new work Receipt Paper Dialogues, a performance installation that responds to community tension under capitalism. To see how the receipt scores gifted by the community were brought forth improvisationally by 4 dancers and 3 musicians and controlled by the audience members was energy shifting. Within this performance of my work, the power dynamic between the audience and the performers leveled out in a way that I had never felt before.
To arrive where I am now professionally was no small task. And the challenges we face as artists are of course relentless. However there’s so much to be learned from it, and so much beauty that derives from that human growth. Recently patience as a practice of acceptance has been a core driver for me. Between a sprained ankle and teaching young children ballet, I am always reminded that it truly is a practice. This ties into another thought process of how/when/why I show up to do the work and fulfill that grind versus showing up for myself, for the passion, for the process, for the artistic preservation of a sensation or a narrative. It’s the eternal challenge of what do I need and what do I want? And how may I navigate that question with patience and joy, and yet fulfill the things that must be done to survive.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There’s so much to do in NYC you truly can’t run out of options! One of my favorite games to play, especially in Manhattan, is to simply go for a walk and only cross the street in directions when it’s a green light or walk sign. Then you just see where the city takes you! You’ll find all the hidden gems this way. Here’s my go-to favorite things: work on the computer from Nook coffee shop or General Irving in Bushwick. Eat dinner at 12 chairs in Williamsburg or Kiko Sushi in the Lower East Side! Visit a gallery or museum such as Moma, The Shed, or the New Museum. Go dancing at Nowadays or see a music show at Purgatory, Piano’s, or Le Poisson Rouge. See a dance show at the Joyce, Arts on Site, or Greenspace. Stroll through Prospect Park and bring a hammock to relax in nature. And of course, take the train out to Rockaway beach for an ocean escape!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to dedicate this to all of my collaborators, friends, and mentors. You all mean so much to me and my creative process. Without you I would not be the same person, nor would I be able to do what am I doing now. My life has felt full of “pinch me I’m dreaming” moments lately, and I am endlessly grateful for the love and support of everyone in my life.
Milie Nelson, Alba Garcia, Timothy Avery