Jamie dances

Report on Friend and Dancer
Jamie Miller - Sabah

by Glenn Schneider, Lynette Harris

Jamie was diagnosed about five weeks ago (on March 11) with a "Grade 4 Astrocytoma". This form of tumor is difficult to remove surgically because it has tendrils that reach out from the center like an octopus, as contrasted to a tumor which is a centralized, contained mass. The tumor affects the portion of the front left lobe of the brain that is "expressive". This means she has difficulty communicating outwards, e.g., talking. The receptive part of the brain, responsible for listening, feeling, etc., has not been affected. It is good to report that she is still enjoying dancing and is in very good spirits.

Jamie has health insurance with Kaiser-Permanente and has also been seen by a neurosurgeon at UCSF Hospital. She has decided to decline surgery because there is only a fifty percent chance of survival and the prediction is it would only give her twelve additional months to live, during which period she would not be feeling well during the struggle to recover from the surgery. The prospects with chemotherapy and radiation are apparently the same.

She will be performing this weekend, perhaps for the last time, as part of the Sabah Ensemble. The dates are Saturday, April 24th, 1:00 - 2:00 p.m., at Berkeley Moving Arts and 8th Street Studios (Western Sky Studio) as part of National Dance Week (many dance studios are having "open studios" that week) and Sunday, April 25th, at Martin Luther K
ing Park, 3:00 p.m. This is part of an all-day performance.

Having declined surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Jamie has turned to Eastern medicine, i.e., acupuncture, Tibetan herbs and psychic healing. Her surgeon gives her three to five months. She is emotionally prepared.

Jamie does floor work

Jamie posing with Bert Balladine in late March '99. (Jamie is taking large doses of steriods, thus the "moon-face")

update 8-14-99
Dancer and Extraordinary Friend

by Latifa

On Saturday, August 14, 1999 at 3 A.M. Jamie Miller, known to the dance community as Sabah, died in her sleep in a skilled nursing facility in Oakland, California.

I considered Jamie a spiritual mentor and one of my best friends since we met in the early 1970's. She was, in fact, my first teacher of Belly Dance. During the time I studied with her, and subsequently became a member of her first dance troupe, I found a circle of
open, enthusiastic, brilliant, and compassionate friends that remain in my life to this day. Jamie definitely attracted to herself the same quality of positive energy that she extended to others.

Of all the people I have ever known, Sabah had the most profound effect on my life. Among the gifts that Jamie gave me, and to others fortunate enough to study with her, was encouragement and a sense of empowerment.

Since I came from a background that didn't feed or encourage artistic pursuits, it's fair to say that my association with Jamie was my artistic awakening. I also learned from Jamie how to live with a sense of vulnerability.

She was completely present and totally open with what she was feeling as she interacted with life in the moment. I believe this quality made her a great performer and a teacher capable of making us, her students, feel safe and valued for our unique qualities. Truly, Jamie could see and appreciate others. Her criticisms were clear, direct, and without self-consciousness.

Jamie & LatifaDuring the last few months of her life, I found that I had difficulty going to visit her. Her physical body had deteriorated to a great extent and had become such a burden to her that I felt she was trapped inside of it. It made me both angry and sad to see such a beautiful spirit forced to exist in this manner. Inwardly I struggled to stay in communication with my friend on a spirit level. The last time I visited Sabah, she was moving into another coma, so the spirit level was all that was possible.

I will miss our talks, trips to restaurants, laugh fests, walks in the woods and on the beach in the rain, as well as dancing and enjoying music together.

One of the most revealing statements about Sabah was made by her sister, Consie, as she began to need to limit the number of people who could visit Jamie during her last days. Consie complained "It's so difficult because everyone believes that he or she is Jamie's best friend! Jamie was a true life-long friend to many and to me. Like the all the others who loved and will miss her, I know we were "best friends".

Que te vayas bien.


More on Jamie
9-29-00 Interview with Jamie Miller-Sabah, an excerpt of "Searching for the Goddess, A Dancer's Odyssey"
in June 1993 by Anne Hawkins of the Legacy Oral History Project sponsored by the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum


A Celebration in Memory of Jamie
will be held
Sept 2nd 1999, at 7:30 PM at
Berkeley Moving Arts,
8th St Studios, Western Sky Studio
Berkeley, California

Bring objects of meaning for the alter (but take them home when you go)


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