Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Polish
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Joseph Eric "Joe" Miller taught character dance at the Oakland Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the Arvada Center (Boulder, CO), and performed with the Nomad Theatre (Boulder, CO). He also taught by special invite in Guatemala.
Joe taught folk dance at camp Okizu in Novato, California (a camp for children with cancer), and for Jim Graham in Fort Collins, Colorado. He also taught a half dozen workshops around Colorado and in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before his folk dancing days, Joe taught tumbling and gymnastics.
Joe has many choreographies and staged dances under his belt, including a Georgian Suite for Westwind International Dance Theatre (San Francisco, CA) in 2000, borrowing costumes from Khadra and the Milwaukee Dance Theatre to stage it!; a Gypsy choreography for Khadra Dance Ensemble (San Francisco, CA) in 2000 (he was a dancer with Khadra for nearly fifteen years); "The Reunion" (or Three Friends at the Tavern) also for Westwind in 1994; a comic trio dance and a fisherman dance for the Neva Russian Dance Company (San Francisco, CA) in 1987; and a Harvest Dance staged for Neva in 1986. In San Francisco, he also danced with the Kafkas Caucasian Dance Ensemble under the direction of Gurbuz Actaz.
He was choreographer and dancer with the Diablo Light Opera Company (Walnut Creek, CA) (he received the "Shelly Award" for choreography in "The Merry Widow); the Capuchino Community Theatre (Milbrae, CA); the Pickle Family Circus School (San Francisco, CA); and choreographed more than twenty numbers for the Troika Folk Ballet (Denver, CO). Joe was a Guest Artist with the David Taylor Dance Theatre (Denver, CO).
In 1998, he danced as the Captain in a Russian dance for Neva, and in 1994, he was a dancer in the Moldavian Washerwoman for Neva.
In 1970, Joe did a television commercial for Mennen deodorant. In 1968 he was a clown and acrobat for the Barnum and Baily Circus (Sarasota, FL); in 1965 he was a knock-about and acrobat for the Hillside Burlesque (Queens, NY); and from 1961 to 1964 he performed a variety of roles for Summerstock (Catskills, NY).
Joe was a founder of Narodno and founded and was the director of Troika Folk Ballet which ran from 1979 to 1982. He choreographed for Vistula and Łowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble (during the 1980s after the their loss of Jan Sejda) and directed them in 1984 and 1985.
Joe received training in New York City with a B.A. from Queens College and trained at a school of ballet. He also trained at the Clown College in Sarasota, FL. He trained under Mishaslow Morowski, former dancer and ballet master with Mazowsze, and was a student under Vladimir Riazantsev, soloist with the famed Moiseyev State Ensemble and the Neva Russian Dance Ensemble.
Joe credits Dick Oakes as one of the people who inspired him to pursue folk dance further. He says Dick was "always exciting and encouraging to all of us. His humor kept us laughing. I can still remember his teaching Arkan, a dance I felt to be very challenging at the time!" He also credits Alex Wilson with much of his inspiration (Alex took over some of the character roles when Joe moved from Colorado) and is still very good friends with Jim Allen.
Although he's retired now, he feels lucky to have had the experience of studying and dancing with some of the best in the world. He says, "Touring was lots of fun when I was young. Now I don't have the energy or stamina for long tours (my walker is hard to pack, he laughs!)."
Joe currently lives in San Francisco. He has had two bouts with cancer. During a later infection, which landed him five days in the hospital, the doctors took some tests and found that there was no longer any cancer! He still desires to be in the choeorgraphing and coaching end of things. In retirement, Joe teaches archery and collects and restores antique knives.
Dances Joe has taught include Hopak and Kartuli.