By John Zirkle, Warren Miller Performing Arts Center

On March 19th, I sat down with Warren Miller at his home in Big Sky to talk about performance art and his take on the new Warren Miller Performing Arts Center.

JZ: You once said, ‘People from a city should move to a ski town, because you can do anything in a ski town that you can do in a city.’ Would you care to elaborate on that?

WM: That’s absolutely true. People get hooked on what they do for a living, and they get into a very comfortable economic strata, so it’s a bit hard when you’ve got kids and stuff to give up the security of a place in Palo Alto, or Hollywood California, or Boston, and move to the mountains and have to work with your hands. And if not, why would you stay in those cities when you can go to a ski resort, stay in employee accommodations, have a routine job, if you will, and be an entrepreneur within the framework of a ski resort?”

JZ: Do you think performance artists can survive within that framework?

WM: I think that to do that, you have to have an audience, and fortunately the performing arts center that’s being created here in Big Sky– I think there’s sufficient audience here to support it. Just because people move to a ski resort, doesn’t mean that they move away from the arts, because by the time they have enough initiative to move to the resort, they’ve already become fairly entranced with some form of the arts in a city. They’ve got their favorite theatre to go to for their movies, favorite for plays, if they like opera or the symphony, they have their favorite place to go. There’s usually only one place to see that, or hear that, and unlike the city, in between watching performances, you get to watch the beautiful outside here in Montana.

JZ: Would you say that there is a performance aspect to skiing?

WM: Absolutely. I think there’s a very little recognized reason why people fall in love with skiing, and simply stated, everybody’s instinct is their constant search for freedom… And that’s one of the reasons why people can get on the stage here and create, in my opinion, a whole lot better than if they’re living in a half-a-bedroom apartment somewhere in Manhattan, waiting tables in the daytime so that they can perform at night. There’s much more freedom of expression available in a place like this.

Spotlight on the Arts is a reflection on the world of performing arts in both historic and contemporary contexts. Each entry features an individual or group of performers that use captivating mediums to communicate with their audiences. More excerpts from the Warren Miller conversation will be featured in the months to come.

The Warren Miller Performing Arts Center is scheduled to be completed by December of this year, and will feature many acts that challenge the way we see and think about performance.