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Nia-Amina Minor: In Love With Dance

Nia-Amina Minor has been dancing for as long as she can remember. When she was little more than a toddler in Los Angeles, she created shows and performed them for her family.

"There's this sort of unearthing that can happen when you bring bodies into space. And these bodies are deeply aware, attuned and in relation to each other."

After early training at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Nia-Amina thought she'd leave dance behind when she entered Stanford University. Instead, she wound up with a Master's degree in the art form and a passionate love for dance.


A Seattle resident since 2015, Nia-Amina is a respected performer, teacher, choreographer, and community builder who has embedded her dreams for the future into the work she creates. Enjoy her conversation with Vivian and Marcie.



A double exposure image of a Black woman dancing in front of a brick wall with ivy
Nia-Amina Minor, credit Devon Munoz

ABOUT THIS EPISODE'S GUEST


Nia-Amina Minor is a movement artist, choreographer, curator, and educator originally from Los Angeles. Her work focuses on the body and what it carries, using physical and archival research to explore memory and history. Nia-Amina is a co-founder of Black Collectivity, a collaborative project developed through the Velocity Made in Seattle Artist Residency Program. She has received regional and national commissions for her choreographic and film work and has a working background as a performer and dramaturg. As a curator, Nia-Amina has developed community programs and performances at Wa Na Wari, Velocity Dance Center, No)one Art House as a co-founder and curator, and Spectrum Dance Theater as a Community Engagement Artist Liaison. In 2021, she was recognized as Dance Magazine's 25 Artists to Watch. Nia-Amina holds an MFA from UC Irvine and a BA from Stanford University and is currently based in Seattle.


Follow Nia-Amina on Instagram to stay up to date with her work and performances.

 

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:00):

Hey, I'm Vivian Phillips.


MARCIE SILLMAN (00:25):

And I'm Marcie Sillman. And this is Double, Is DoubleXposure, Exposure. <laugh>


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (00:25):

DoubleXposure is a podcast where we plumb the deepest depths and the tiniest cracks of our world to understand how culture and creativity shape our lives.


MARCIE SILLMAN (00:29):

On this episode, dancer, choreographer, teacher, thinker, and activist, Nia-Amina Minor.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (01:36):

Nia-Amina Minor, I said that slower than I normally do because I like to make it one word. Nia-Amina Minor. <laugh> normally, but Nia-Amina Minor, we wanna thank you so much for joining us on doubleXposure. You've been living and working in Seattle for a while now, thankfully. But you're originally from Los Angeles, right?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (01:58):

Yeah, originally born and raised.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (01:58):

So, tell us what drew you to dance and, you know, how old were you? Let us imagine a little Nia-Amina getting her dance chops up.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (02:10):

Oh my goodness. Little Nia. Wow. I definitely was one of those kids that just had a lot of energy in the house, a lot of energy, doing a lot in my mother and father's house, and particularly they have all these memories of me creating dances for the family and then dragging them into the living room, putting on shows or walking around the house with different, like boom boomboxes or radios, setting them up and just breaking out into like routine, you know? And of course, dancing to like music videos and, and TV and movies. And then I think at a certain point my mom and dad were like, we really gotta do something with all this energy. She's all over the house, <laugh>.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (02:45):

So they found a place for you?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (02:47):

They found a place and you know, at first it was like, you know, just the afterschool ballet, tap sort of thing, mostly daycare, right? Just somewhere for like a young child to have their energy. And then when I was like 11, we sort of moved from doing dance, singing and acting to just focusing on dance. And that's when I joined the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and sort of like made the commitment to, to studying dance and um, being a part of her sort of young pre-professional training program there when it first started.


MARCIE SILLMAN (03:18):

So you were 11, is that what you said?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (03:20):

Yeah, 11. When I, when I auditioned for the first sort of year of, of Debbie Allen Dance Academy.


MARCIE SILLMAN (03:25):

That seems very young, although I know that, that dancers do make a decision early. Did you know at that point that this was something you wanted to pursue as your profession?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (03:37):

No, I don't think so. I think I just really loved it and my mom was excited to encourage it. And then we had like a lot of friends and, and sort of community members that were also joining too, because it was the start of of DADA, which was really big in the LA community. It was, you know, uh, after Lula Washington, there, there aren't that, that many other big dance schools like that, that have like consistent class and consistent training for young people. So it was the, the opening of another big program in LA and I think there was a lot of like buzz in the community about it. And she was like, well, let's check it out. And sent me over to the audition.


MARCIE SILLMAN (04:12):

Were you learning all kinds of styles of dance?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (04:15):

Yeah. At Debbie Allen Dance Academy, that's the main focus is, is sort of making sure that the, the students are prepared to enter into the dance like field in any way. And so for her, she definitely prioritize, you know, the Western sort of chime it so, you know, ballet, modern jazz. But she was also really clear about the contributions of Black artists and had us doing Dunham as a main technique, had us studying West African, had us doing hip hop, and she was especially adamant about all of those having equal value as well as like other global dance forms. We were studying flamenco, we were doing all these forms as a part of our regular, like daily and weekly training. So, it was really full, it was a really full program. <laugh>,


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (04:59):

I had no idea that you were a student of the Debbie Allen Dance Company and she's still doing it. I mean, she seems like this timeless individual who will graduate over and over and over and over again, classes of dancers. But speaking of your education, you have a master's degree in dance, is that correct?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (05:19):

Yeah, yeah, I do.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (05:21):

So how did that lead you to Seattle, and ultimately to Spectrum Dance Theater?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (05:28):

That's a really good question. I ended up taking a break from dance after training, you know, at DADA throughout high school. It was, you know, pretty intense focus program. So I took a break in undergrad. I decided maybe I wasn't gonna be dancing as much anymore. I wanted to see other things and, and study other things and put my time, what I thought, put my time and effort into other things. And that wasn't the case at all. It, it didn't happen. I ended up doing everything dance related in undergrad <laugh> without doing the minor, you know, study program for it. So it was really funny that I tried to step away and ended up diving even further into it and kind of finding a new mode of like inspiration, uh, and, and finding out what my connection was outside of training as a young person.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (06:14):

So in undergrad, uh, I had some mentors who, um, one had danced for the Cunningham Company and another one was a really fantastic artist named Alita Hayes. And so, Diane Frank and Alita Hayes. And they were sort of mentoring a small group of us who had kind of made a commitment to dance in undergrad, even though a lot of us weren't studying it and encouraged me to apply for master's programs. And I sort of went to them for advice and they really helped me out in terms of just, you know, choosing a program and making sure it fits for what I'm interested in. And that sort of led me to UC Irvine for my MFA.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (06:48):

How did Spectrum then enter into that?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (06:52):

<laugh> Spectrum entered a couple years later. So I finished the MFA in 2014 and then, uh, immediately started working on a, um, collective project, uh, called No)one Art House in Los Angeles with a bunch of friends and colleagues of mine that I'd grown up dancing with in LA and at DADA. And so we started knowing our house and for about two years I was working with them to co curate and create programming, like workshops, dance education and also perform. And then I came up to Seattle, I think 2015 to visit my partner's family. And I think it was, it was maybe a year later, 2016, early 2016, uh, my partner's mom went to go see A Rap on Race here in Seattle. Um, and she knew what I was doing in LA and she knew what my interests were and she was like, Nia, I really think you should take a peek at what Spectrum's doing. I of course knew who Donald Bird was, but I'm not sure if I knew that Donald was in Seattle. You know, I knew who he was in the legacy, but yeah, so it was kind of her encouragement to check out the company spectrum. And so I came up 2016 summer, I auditioned, drove around Seattle, you know, enjoyed the summer in Seattle, fell in love with the city in the summer and yes. And then, um, got the call from Donald and, and you know, was accepted into the company.


MARCIE SILLMAN (08:16):

And that was full-time as a well as full-time as Spectrum is, as a dancer. Right. Was part of the gig teaching as well?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (08:25):

Not yet. When I first got there, I was, I was just, uh, a company artist, but Donald sort of, and I had had conversations about, you know, who I was and where I was coming from, and I think he always knew my interest in arts education and curation and all these other sort of hats that I was wearing even before I moved to Seattle. And so, you know, once I knew that Spectrum had other programs, they, there was an also an invitation to sort of be a part of teaching and community engagement.


MARCIE SILLMAN (08:52):

Were you also in some part of your mind thinking, I'm going to make my own dances as well, which you are doing now?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (09:00):

Yeah, I think so because when I was working with No)one Art House, that was the whole sort of focus was that as a collective we were creating, um, experiences for our family and community in LA to, to have these sort of arts experiences around Los Angeles. And so we were making works together. We were also doing like rep works, inviting artists to choreograph on us. You know, I wasn't choreographing so much in LA but I think I was involved in creative direction of a lot of projects that I, the interest was piqued and then when I moved to Seattle, I wanted to like continue in that direction.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (09:35):

So during your time with Spectrum, Donald choreographed the majority, the vast majority of the works that you all performed. And we're curious about how his choreography may have impacted your journey as a choreographer.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (09:52):

I had gone from a collective in which collaboration looked a very specific way to a company under the creative direction of, you know, a single individual where there was still a level of collaboration in the room. And in particular, because Spectrum is a large ensemble company, and at that time was about 14 people, I think I was just like learning how do you sort of lead 14 people from all different places and bring them into sort of like a cohesive collective vision over a long, you know, long format evening length. And so, I think from Donald, I really sort of absorbed, you know, yeah. How do you sort of like guide collaboration inside the studio space and then also how do you create work with this narrative arc over an evening, over an experience. Um, before then I was doing shorter works and even now I'm not doing as long works, but there's something, um, that Donald does and you know, obviously this is years and years and years of experience, but the way that he can craft an arc over time with dancers and with Ensemble Works is really, um, inspiring. So those were things that I was, you know, while I'm dancing, I'm sitting on the side, I'm observing like, how is this working <laugh>, you know?


MARCIE SILLMAN (11:05):

And then we talked a couple minutes ago about teaching. I know that you've taught for Ailey summer school programs, you've taught at the University of Washington, you've taught at Velocity. You've kind of maybe Cornish too? I don't know, maybe you're everywhere. So what I'm wondering is like how the jigsaw puzzle of this dance life that you are making for yourself, how it all meshes?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (11:29):

I mean, I think that goes back to, to growing up at, at Debbie Allen Dance Academy, I just had these teachers, instructors, and of course, Debbie Allen, directors as role models of like, that this sort of thing is possible, you know what I mean? That you can be wearing different hats. I mean, for, you know, Ms. Allen, it is all the hats, director, producer, actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, you know, the list goes on, storyteller, all these things. And so, I think growing up I knew that it was possible to do and hold more and to be like, you know, have a capacity as an artist that is really large. And so, it felt normal to me to be involved in the arts world in multiple areas. And, you know, I think that comes from just seeing that as a young person and then wanting to apply that in, in my own life. And of course, I, I have a lot of different interests, you know, stepping away from dance and reentering with different interests in history and research and, you know, film and, and all these different, um, disciplines. And so, I mean, dance is like phenomenally large, the world of it, you know, it, it it really goes in so many places. And so I think as a person that's in love with dance, you know, as an idea, I'm interested in, in excavating the different like pathways that I can go on.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (12:41):

I think you're alluding a little bit to the answer to this question around the fact that I think it was last year that we got a little excerpt of a piece that you had been working on collaboratively with a number of local dancers, part research, part performance, but it's called A Practice of Return, which was funded and supported by Velocity Dance Center. What specifically inspired that work for this this project?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (13:14):

Yeah, that work is, has sort of, um, a long development period and it really starts with when I came to Spectrum, you know, I think it was my second year, I was approached by a film director who was working on a piece about the Space Needle. And that piece was, uh, excavating sort of a hidden history of the Space Needle and its connection potentially to an architectural design connection to dancing figures in specifically Syvilla Fort. And so I had not heard of Syvilla Fort before that film project, so that must have been 2017, 2018. And through that project I met Miss Edna Daigre and I met another of a number of other people who were interested in the history of Syvilla Fort and its connection to the city. And so, you know, that project I think was the seed for, for the beginnings of A Practice of Return for sure.


MARCIE SILLMAN (14:05):

How is A Practice of Return different from some of the other dances that you made? Is it broader, less dancey, more dancey?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (14:15):

Well, I guess I'll start with the, the collaborators, the folks that are involved in that project are phenomenal artists and they are also involved in a number of different areas of the arts sort of community here in Seattle. You know, they're teachers, they're, they program, they curate, they do costume design, they do oral histories. And so, it was like, how do we also use this platform as an opportunity for us to deepen our skills in those ways? And, and though we're movement-based artists, how do we allow space for growth and contribution? So, it's truly a collaborative project. It sort of like began as just, um, identifying who's in the room and like celebrating their strengths and passions and being open to learning from folks. And, and so I think that's why the, the, the, that project, it covers so many different areas. It, it truly was like the sort of like blossoming of all of our, all of our visions and all of our ideas in, in the most, like, you know, collective way it could be.


MARCIE SILLMAN (15:24):

Our conversation with Nia-Amina Minor continues after the short break.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (15:30):

Our music is courtesy of Big World Breaks, many thanks.


MARCIE SILLMAN (15:34):

And this year we welcome our sponsor LANGSTON, cultivating Black Brilliance from their home at Seattle's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in the historic central history.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (15:53):

We so appreciate Nia, that you're a dancer, a dance maker, but you're also a very deep thinker and an activist. And how specifically, because we ask this question a lot around how art is activism as well, but how does dance as an art form specifically help you to communicate all of these different thoughts that you are, you are having and activating?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (16:19):

Dance is so, I mean, honestly, I can't say it enough. I'm so in love and enamored by dance and by the moving body. And I think it's also because, you know, in some ways I really view the moving body as so, and the body in general is so important. I mean, it carries story, it carries, you know, memory, it carries language. It, there's some things conscious and unconscious that we hold in our body that we're just, you know, not always aware of and that come forward, you know, individually or in relation with other people. There's just sort of this, um, unearthing that can happen when you bring bodies into space and, and the bodies in that space are, uh, deeply, uh, aware, attuned and in relation to each other. And so, I think that as a practice in general, a practice in community building, a practice in sharing space, like just that simple idea of bringing bodies into a room, it, it can be really powerful and so much can come up because people are coming from all different places and bringing themselves and what they carry into a room.


MARCIE SILLMAN (17:21):

It's an interesting thing though because dance is often very scary for people who haven't been in an audience of a dance performance. There's no words, it's not what we're used to, the body, what watching a body move can be scarier. What I'm wondering about, given your wide range of interests, and you've stated that you, you wanted to be able to explore all the manifestations or all the ways that you could, can take dance and manifest ideas, but do you think in a particular way about the trajectory of your artistic career, or is it straightforward path? Is it more kind of things happen and then you just pursue them?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (18:06):

It’s definitely not straightforward. <laugh> <laugh> and I feel like every, every artist and specifically dancer's journey is very different. You know, I think there's models that we all try to follow, but there's, it's not possible, it's not possible to recreate someone else's journey. It's really important to sort of like, for me to sort of figure out what my journey will be and how that might look different than, you know, the folks that I, um, am inspired by, like I said, training when I really intensely when I was younger and then stepping away, um, was not the path that a lot of my peers were taking. They were going straight into dance companies and auditioning. And so I already was taking a step back. I didn't sort of continue in that direction. And then, you know, I, I've been training in the sort of concert and commercial dance realm and then, you know, taking a step back to sort of like, deepen my understanding of art and dance history and find the other ways in which dance, you know, emerges in communities and spaces, you know, throughout time, you know, and then making the decision to, to go into an MFA program, early on, education then became an important part of that as well.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (19:16):

So, you know, I, I feel like in that way, I hold all of these things on the same level. You know, performance, choreography, making education, they're, they're all so important, you know what I mean? And so, you know, I'm not, I kind of jump back and forth between these things because I feel like they're expressions of who I am and I also really am looking for spaces in which I can show up as a whole person and not have to, you know, sort of pull and compartmentalize myself. You know, just show up as an arts administrator or just show up as a choreographer. Just show up as a dancer. And I think it was especially important for me to move through Spectrum because I was encouraged to show up as my full self, you know, Donald and Spectrum Dance Theater understood what I was coming with and, and were able to create pathways for me to, to bring all of that into the space as opposed to, you know, silencing one in the favor, you know, in the favor of another.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (20:11):

I know Donald Byrd holds you in very high regard and speaks very highly of you always, you know, as a part of this season, I think you are the third dancer or choreographer, former dancer, choreographer that we've had the opportunity to, to speak with, who, um, are activists, educators, they carry all of those different things with them. And we've heard a lot from each individual about their trajectory. I'm wondering what kind of roadblocks you may have come up against in your career. I wanna call it trajectory, but it's something else. It feels like it's a cyclical kind of movement. What are some of the roadblocks you've come up against?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (20:55):

I think some of the roadblocks that happened early on, which were part of the reason where I, where I pulled back from dance was I had grown up in a space in which dance was truly important and valuable to the lives of everybody evolved. And then I was leaving that space to go to school, to undergrad, and I was entering into spaces where the arts and dance were not necessarily considered as important as, um, crucial to, to the wellbeing and, and, and survival of, of all of us, you know, <laugh>. And so, you know, for a moment I was like really concerned and I think I was trying to be and approach the world in a way that wasn't authentically me. Um, you know, I thought that there was a certain pathway that I had to be on in order to be deemed successful, and for some reason that pathway at that time was not, um, defined as something that included the arts.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (21:53):

And I think even still, you know, especially when I'm working with young kids and trying to encourage them, you know, to sort of like be in spaces where they can follow their passions and, and find their creative expression, I have to first start with the value of that, you know, and I think that was a huge roadblock, and that's something that I come up against again is sort of like, maybe, maybe it's also a part of my mission is like, you know, um, helping people realize how how deeply valuable and crucial the arts and specifically dance are to the wellbeing of society.


MARCIE SILLMAN (22:25):

What you say reminds me of a lot of the conversations Vivian and I have had this season with our guests, um, starting with the first guest, Mark Bamuthi Joseph, who is another person who does every kind of art form, and is talking about the same thing that you're referring to about the value, not just that art is relaxing or pretty or decorative, and it can be all of those things, but you're talking about a, a deeper value to this art form, I think.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (22:59):

Yeah, definitely, definitely something that is more than aesthetic. I, I feel like in the Black community, I think that we sometimes can understand the value of, of dance and storytelling and certainly in an ancestral tradition and diasporic tradition, but even still, you know, we're moving in, you know, a capitalist society that has us questioning things that may have been very inherent to our cultures. And, you know, it's sort of that sort of like repairing that gap or repairing that separation to remind us of what we already were inherently building. And what we already had is a, a, a major thread in, in the societies and in family structures and cultures that we, we created.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (23:40):

Well, you're describing early on kind of where your desire got planted and exercised, this whole cultural, uh, element of dance being a critical part of Black culture, family culture, you know, community culture, it was like, come on honey, come do that dance <laugh>, and I said this over and over again, and I just can't imagine what our worlds would be like if we pluck that out of our culture. And I think that's true for no matter what your ethnic background is.


MARCIE SILLMAN (24:17):

I think you're right, Vivian and I, I'm thinking about one of the interviews I most recently edited, it was with the glass artist Preston Singletary, and Preston was talking about the role of art in transmitting cultural history in at least his community, the Tlingit community. But I think he could, you know, expand that a little bit to talk about Indigenous communities in America and around the world and that sort of roadblock of the capitalist roadblock, which says, this is not valuable because you're not making a lot of money or you're not whatever, moving up some kind of ladder of progression. It's a really interesting thing.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (25:02):

I completely agree. And I was thinking about, you know, what you were saying Ms. Vivian, about family and, um, so much of my family history, especially migratory Black family history, I've been thinking about this and trying to sort of like, reflect on it and, and it's come up in conversation. So much of my family history is not spoken or recorded. And this came up a lot while we were working on A Practice of Returns. We're thinking about what do we return to, what memory holding, you know, a memory keeping practices are present in our families. So much of mine in my family is unspoken and unrecorded. It's not written down. Either people remember it and they can tell you the story or they hold it somewhere else. And a lot of it is held in the body and it, it's different practices. It's, it's ways that people take care of themselves, take care of other people or, you know, just things that they've picked up that are just in the body.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (25:50):

You know, it might be the way, you know, my mom like rubs her knee out of comfort, you know, or the way that someone rocks in a chair or, or the way that somebody hugs you, the, the sound they make when they laugh. And, and so, you know, for me, you know, especially through A Practice of Return, remembering that that dance and the body can hold those things and, and that for Black folks in general, our dance vocabulary and practices moves in this continuum and this cycle and it comes up and up and over and again. Um, and that, that is so important as well.


MARCIE SILLMAN (26:23):

It's interesting though because when we talk about how white Western culture assigns value to something, at least white American culture, Northern European culture, is always about money. I mean, the value is can you sell it? Can you buy it? And it's not like that telling of a culture through dance or visual art or writing or film, or all of the above, has more value in other cultures than it does in this one for sure. And not just African cultures, but Asian cultures as well. It's part of life in a different way than we think about art's role in life or community.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (27:11):

Yeah, absolutely. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,


MARCIE SILLMAN (27:13):

All that blather said, we talked about trajectory and roadblocks. What do you dream of achieving as an artist? How will you mark your success?


NIA-AMINA MINOR (27:23):

That's a good question. I think that that idea is shifting and changing, and the goal is, is growing and growing. Right now, I'm really interested in figuring out a way to create a connection between artists along the west coast. I, I'm really interested in, in trying to inscribe the network that already exists. And I'm talking, you know, of course from Washington, LA but even greater like, you know, maybe Vancouver to Mexico and have, you know, just this dream of either programming, ways of coming together, ways of communing so that those connections can be more visible and, and that people can maybe tap into them in, in a more potent way. And I think that comes from, you know, being from LA and moving way up here, you know, and ultimately first it's like trying to convince my family and friends that Seattle is not that far <laugh>


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (28:17):

1800 miles, I mean, how far? <laugh>


NIA-AMINA MINOR (28:21):

The West Coast is huge and expansive. And you know, I think especially the history of, of Black and Brown people on the west coast is amazing. And, you know, I'm talking, you know, the stories and history and culture in LA and the Bay Area and Portland in Seattle, and, you know, being a part of A Practice of Return was sort of just, um, you know, cementing that, that idea that I already had was that we're everywhere. Our history is everywhere and how rich and connected it is. And, and so, you know, like how do we get people to share those stories to, as a reminder, especially as, you know, we're seeing in a lot of these cities, either folks are being displaced or there's a sort of separation and distance away from, you know, places that people, uh, originally called home or community. And that mirrors in all of the, the major cities along the west coast. You know, certainly something that I've seen and learned about here in Seattle, but it's something whenever I go home that I see and feel in LA.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (29:16):

Well, listening to you talk about that, it just, uh, makes me think that A Practice of Return is something that is applicable across the coast. You know, we can practice our ways of returning to memory that's sitting in our bodies in a very different and exciting way. So I hope you use that as one of the, the coalescing, uh, elements of your, your journey.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (29:46):

Oh, yeah, I hope so too. We're taking a small moment to rest and recuperate, but <laugh>, you know, I think ultimately, we hope that it could be something that could continues to grow and also like lives beyond us. And absolutely what you're saying.


MARCIE SILLMAN (30:00):

You and I were talking about what I feel like is just the, the spark and growth of the Black dance community in Seattle. You pointed out a history to us, but you've done that by forging along with a lot of the dancers in the city, connections that just seem like the last, they're durable and they're different than the way business has been done. Um, there's a merging of dancers from different kinds of backgrounds, and it just feels, from my vantage point as a voyeur, very strong and very vibrant in ways that maybe we haven't seen before.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (30:44):

Oh, yeah. I mean, it's exciting and, and it's an exciting time for, for Seattle. You know, you and I were talking about the number of programs and events and gatherings that are gonna happen this fall. It's just an exciting time for Seattle. And I, I love, I love to see the city thriving in, in that way, but I think what you're talking about is something that I experienced first when I moved here. And it's something that I experienced specifically from Dani Tirrell. And I, I always say this, I, you know, I, along with another company member from Spectrum went to On the Boards to see House Dina. And the way in which even though, you know, Dani was choreographing that work and was involved in, you know, the direction of the work, the way that Dani, after the show in the lobby saw me and my friend came up to us, didn't know who we were, and just sort of like with their warmth and their words and the way that Dani does, wrapped us in community and invited us into community. Like, I see you, Hey, you are in the lobby, who are you? I see you. Okay, come to this. You know? And it was that like simple gesture that really was the catalyst for how I decided that I was gonna be moving through, through Seattle. And, uh, you know, it is, it's something that I directly experienced from Dani Tyrrell, and I always love to give thanks and gratitude to that way of being invited into community. Um, it's an important way, the invitation is just as important as showing up, right?


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (32:10):

Absolutely. Absolutely.


MARCIE SILLMAN (32:14):

I think that you are a, a unique thinker, Nia-Amina Minor, and I'm so grateful that, did I say it fast enough that you you did.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (32:24):

I loved it. You said one word, <laugh>


MARCIE SILLMAN (32:27):

Nia-Amina Minor. I'm just really grateful that you're here because I think the way that you see the world and you think about how art can lift all the boats up and help us float on, I, I I think it's unique and I really value it, so you can't move.


NIA-AMINA MINOR

Oh, thank you, <laugh>.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (32:49):

Yes. And we'll see you out and about this fall. We cannot wait. There's so much to do and so many places to go and see exciting art, and I'm looking forward to seeing yours.


NIA-AMINA MINOR (33:00):

Thank you. Thank you.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (33:02):

Thank you, Nia.


MARCIE SILLMAN (33:05):

Vivian, I swear every time I talk to Nia-Amina Minor, I am impressed all over again. I am just blown away. She's in her mid-thirties, this young woman who not only has creative chops and technical skill, she's got an incisive mind, which is something that all of our guests this season share. They're just really good at placing what they do within a wider context. She just sees the big picture in such a great way.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (33:40):

I'm convinced that there's something in the drinking water <laugh> that all of our guests have, you know, only received. I I mean, maybe there are other people out there drinking that water, but there is this sense of groundedness and vision that Nia brings to everything. And talking about the fact that, you know, she was tapped by Spectrum, this whole energy that she has of training behind her, but the invitation at Spectrum was to bring her full self. And I think that that is one of the things that possibly has helped to expand the way that she approaches things, because, you know, you bring your whole self to it as opposed to kind of bringing one side, your intellect, or your skill, acumen, that sort of thing. But you can bring everything and your interest to it. And, you know, last week I went to see To Gather at On the Boards, which is the series, it's a two-week series, I believe that Nia-Amina Minor and David Rue have curated together, and Nia spoke about Dani Tirrell.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (34:59):

And I just wanna share something with you that something happened at the performance that was completely and totally unrehearsed and not a part of the program, but the Dani Tirrell was in the audience, and Cipher Goings was performing and kind of mid-performance, it was like he had seen Dani, but he didn't expect that he would see Dani. And the emotion got so much for him that he literally had to stop his performance and go over and hug Dani and just say, I didn't know you were gonna be, you didn't tell me you were gonna be here. That's what he said. And I think that it speaks to what Nia has articulated around the invitation that she received from Dani Tirrell to be a part of this dance community that Dani was also in the process of cultivating. So, it, it was just like that, that full circle moment. I mean, there was not a dry eye in the theater and we, it was like a pause, almost like a five-minute pause, and we just couldn't stop. We were all like, oh,


MARCIE SILLMAN (36:16):

Well, I have to say, I'm pretty sure Cipher Goings was a pre-teen when Dani started teaching.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (36:23):

Oh, yeah. At Northwest Tap


MARCIE SILLMAN (36:25):

Yeah. And if you ever have a chance to see Cipher Goings before, I mean, what Cipher? Maybe 24, if that.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (36:32):

Well, you know, I was surprised <laugh>, actually, I was reading the program. I was like, wait a minute, cipher has already graduated from college. Yes,


MARCIE SILLMAN (36:40):

Cipher has graduated from college. <laugh> Cipher is one of those performers, like Nia, who you can't take your eyes off of, right? Just a phenomenal talent. And the University of Washington, where Cipher went to school and got a degree brings the dance department, often brings Cipher back for various programs because he's just so darn good. So anyway, that's a little aside. You know, how I feel about dance. I have to just, you know, gush about it.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (37:08):

But I think the reason that it resonated so much with me as well is because we had been talking to Nia, and Nia was speaking to not just the invitation that she received from Dani Tirrell, but she also talked about this desire to create this entire west coast collective of dancers and bringing all of these different people together. And I think this last week's performance was a perfect example of what can happen because the guest, um, performers were from the Bay Area, but the other performers were local. Akoiya Harris was also who was another Spectrum alum. I'm excited to hear her vision and equally excited to hopefully see that vision come to fruition. Because what it means to us is that we have access to an incredible cadre of artists who are also looking at ways to make the world a better place.


MARCIE SILLMAN (38:13):

You can get a sneak peek of that in January when, I guess it's the world premiere. It is. It's gonna be at the Moore Theatre. Nia-Amina Minor, isn't it? Yeah. David Rue is in it. Akoiya Harris is in it.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (38:25):

Everybody's in it.


MARCIE SILLMAN (38:27):

Marco,


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (38:27):

Everybody


MARCIE SILLMAN (38:28):

<laugh>, everybody's in it. And so it just gives you a sense, it's very beautiful and it gives you a sense of not just a group, a creative group that's come together, but really is a family. And it's something, I mean, maybe it exists everywhere, but for me it's something super special to see. And it's what elevates artists like Nia beyond a wonderful performer. She's more than that. She's so much more than that. Very much so. I'm so glad y'all got a, a taste of Nia-Amina Minor. We like to say her name. Nia-Amina Minor. Nia-Amina Minor.


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (39:04):

And if she's not been on your radar before, please, please do keep an eye out. Nia is going. Nia-Amina Minor is going to and has been doing great things, so keep an eye out for her. Yeah.


MARCIE SILLMAN (39:24):

DoubleXposure’s Executive Producers are me, Marcie Sillman,


VIVIAN PHILLIPS (39:28):

And me, Vivian Phillips, Associate Producer Hilary Northcraft.


MARCIE SILLMAN (39:33):

If you like what you're hearing on this episode of DoubleXposure, be sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app and check out our website, doubleXposurepod.com.


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