Megan Williams and her ONE WOMAN SHOW: a post-postmodern dance theater follies

This week, Megan Williams Dance Projects and her ONE WOMAN SHOW take over Joe’s Pub as part of DANCE NOW’s 2018 Dance-mopolitan Artist Series. In a post-postmodern dance theater follies, Williams explores themes of aging as a performer, as well as gender, with a lot of flair and fanfare. Candice Thompson spoke to Williams about making this highly personal, and triumphant, work.

{ DIYdancer }, Candice Thompson: I couldn’t help but notice that the cast of ONE WOMAN SHOW seems large…

Photo credit: Yi-Chun Wu.

Megan Williams: I made a five-minute piece for DANCE NOW two years ago for me and a cast of men. I cast myself in the role of a woman of a certain age. The men support, frame, and flank her like in 50s technicolor.  It was honestly me thinking I would love to make a dance for myself, maybe where I get thrown around for the last time. It was an ego thing, I thought, ‘I am physically fit enough to be tossed around…’ And then I was asked if I could evolve it into a longer site specific work for Joe’s Pub. I kept the working title even as I added more people.

The more women I added, the more I realized we were one, our various stories which have preceded the #metoo movement. I don’t know how to describe the trope, but there is one female lead, me, but through the additional cast members the work portrays different facets of self and power struggles, all heteronormative, because that is my experience.

CT: It seems funny to me that you the cast grew larger even though the commission was for the tiny cabaret stage of Joe’s. How do you all fit on that stage?

MW: It’s really challenging. I only rented small studios in order to compress my thinking during the creative process. Every now and again I want them to travel and they can’t, so we are creating illusions. There is a lot of vertical thinking in the sense of, how can we make it look like we are all on a staircase? Having a lot of restrictions like this can be interesting. The costumes are a spectacle and the show is full of several numbers.

CT: Are movie musicals a big inspiration for you?

MW: I was a latchkey kid and I grew up watching them. I loved The Little Rascals. This piece for me is a way to look at contemporary stories through that lens of what I was learning from tv…how to behave as a woman in a sense.

2016 Dance Now NYC at Joe’s Pub

CT: So this started as a last hurrah, but now that you have made this dance, do you want to keep performing?

MW: I do, actually, yes. I went to graduate school for two years, and I came out wanting to dance and make work. I needed a semester away from teaching college in order to do this. Since then, I have also taken on two dance projects as a dancer-for-hire and am in a freelance teaching mode. I am 55, I have two sons, and I had no idea that this is what I would be doing, which makes me want to do more of it. I used to tell my students: ‘Just be ready, and things will come your way.’ Now that has happened for me.


April 26th–28th, 7 p.m.
Joe’s Pub at The Public

Click here for tickets.

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