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From Desert to Sea: the Journey of Zen Arts Co-Founder Doug Miller

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Many people spend the majority of their lives looking for their passion, that one thing that gets them up in the morning and excited about the day ahead. For some that passion may involve making a lasting mark on this planet in the allotted few decades we call a lifetime. For others their passion lies only in the present, to better and beautify the everyday world around us. For something so profound that carries so much meaning in one’s life, finding that passion often occurs in the most ordinary commonplace circumstances. And for a young boy scrambling on the desert rock formations of Joshua Tree National Park, discovering this passion would come years later in a fortuitous trip to the sea.

Only seven years ago on a Los Angeles beach, Zen Arts co-founder Doug Miller had witnessed his passion set ablaze in front of his very own eyes. Having followed a friend down to the beach to watch a group of fire dancers perform, Doug became instantly infatuated with the dangerous performance art, and utterly consumed in mastering it. At that time he could have never dreamed that his countless hours of practice for his new found hobby would years later result in grand scheme performances for artists like Madonna, Skrillex, and Paul Van Dyk, clients like Sony, HBO, and Warner Bros., or in locations like Beirut, Egypt, or Las Vegas. But as they say…life is unpredictable.

Inspired by the originality and skill of Cirque du Soleil shows like Allegria and Quidam, as well as the free-spirited creatives he’d encountered at festivals like Lightning in a Bottle and Burning Man, Doug envisioned starting an entertainment troupe combining the best of both worlds. A company that could harness the awe and amazement of circus performance with high fashion, music, art, and dance.

Through a friend’s recommendation Doug hired fellow fire dancer and future Zen Arts co-founder Susie Culini for a gig he had just booked. In her Doug saw himself, a dedicated performer who shared the same vision for this unprecedented new kind of entertainment company. After starting out with a few close performer friends booking small gigs, pretty soon Doug was scouting the best talent worldwide, evolving the fledgling Zen Arts into the international entertainment phenomenon that it is today.

Involved in all aspects of the company, including but not limited to design, music, costumes, choreography, lighting, and art direction, Doug uses his creative freedom to strive for a one-of-a-kind experience in each Zen Arts show. Truthfully his favorite thing about his job is the fact that “every show presents a unique opportunity to create and envision an experience like no one else has seen.” Although it may be tasking at times juggling 50 or so performers, Doug wouldn’t have it any other way. And with so much on his plate, most people are shocked to hear that Doug is also a practicing psychologist, working with inner city children of Los Angeles for the past 10 years!

Driven, passionate, and imaginative, Doug Miller is a true entertainer in every sense of the word, continually working to wow audiences with innovative, shocking, and exciting performances. Thanks to such a visionary leader as Doug, Zen Arts has grown bigger and better year after year…and this is still the beginning! For the future Doug foresees Zen Arts as a highly popularized global brand, opening offices in major cities around the world like New York, London, or Paris. Reaching an even wider audience, the Zen Arts of tomorrow will produce events on an unprecedented grander scale, working more with some of the hottest musical artists of our time as well as the largest multi-billion dollar businesses.

And just think…it all started with an innocent day at the beach.