Maida Withers Dance Construction Company (MWDCCo)
Collaboration Experimentation Social Issues Global Multi-Dimensional Research
Maida Withers and the Dance Construction Company create thought-provoking works for stage, site, and film, in a collaborative process with dancers, architects, visual artists, scientists, musicians, and others committed to a process of experimentation. Works are bold in concept, choreography and movement, political, autobiographical and daring as unexpected narrative and abstract futurism. The interface of technology and human values is captivating and surprising. Interactive works driven by social and political consciousness have featured rotating loudspeakers, laser beams, wireless cameras, cyber worlds, video installations, video feedback, always with original music created and performed live.
Maida Withers, Founder and Artistic Director, has created a significant body of work, over 150 dances of breadth and vision: www.maidadance.com (archive & timeline). The Company tours internationally once or twice each year with sponsorship by U.S. Embassies and as cultural envoys, U.S. Department of State. Tours and residencies in over 35 countries have occurred since 1962 and include over 12 projects/tours in Russia and eight projects/tours in Brazil, along with residencies and tours in Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany, England, Norway, Finland, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Argentina, Costa Rica, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Croatia and others with performances at Lincoln Center GREAT DANCE in the Bandshell (NYC), Warner Theatre, Kennedy Center, Lisner Auditorium, Dance Place, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Renwick Gallery, National Building Museum, and others in Washington, DC. In June 2019, Maida was invited to present her work, MindFluctuations, for the artificial intelligence global conference, Tacit Engagement in the Digital Age, at the University of Cambridge, UK, sponsored by AI & Society, and CRASSH (Center for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) and the Centre for Music & Science.
Maida and the Company were instrumental in introducing Washington artists and audiences to many new ideas related to performance and choreography: dance improvisation as performance, the use of architectural and environmental locations for performance, collaboration with dancers to create a hybrid form of choreography, experimenting with technology as an integral aspect of performance including early introduction of video and live feed in performance and currently creating work online for showing online. Maida and the Company Founded the DC International Improvisation Plus+ Festival in 1995 and continue bringing international artists to work with DC dance, visual, music, and theatre artists.
Maida created dances strong on social/politica issues early in her career and has continued with groundbreaking dances:
Environment: IceBergs: Glacial Drift (2016);( FareWell – a series of 8 evening-length works on Global Warming issues such as Tipping Point, Rising Tide, Parched Earth, (2006-08); Hekuras – Spirits of the Rainforest (’02); Utah * Spirit Place * Spirit Planet * Tukuhnikivatz (’96); Ancient Lands / Ancient Peoples (’94); UN Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with 100 global artists (’92); Dance for the Earth – Rolling Thunder / Sky Cloud (’91); In Earth’s Belly Deep (’90), Ledge / Dunes (’88), others.
The Body and social issues: Collision Course – a.k.a Pillow Talk (2011); Surveillance (2001); HIV/AIDS: Obsession: America’s Obsession with Sex (’87); Issues of Gender – Exhibition / Performance (’91), State of the Art (’86); Woman See (’81), others.
Site works have been created for many local museums and national monuments including a recent commission, Glacial Drift, for National Building Museum’s BIG summer installation, ICEBERGS; Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Holy Rood Cemetery, Corcoran Gallery of Art; Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Renwick Gallery; National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC), Lenin Museum (Krasnoyarsk, Russia), Museum of Image and Sound (Sao Paulo, Brazil), among others.
Dance films have been selected for showing in local, national, and international film and video festivals: Festival De Video Danse De Bourgogne, Burgundy, France (2011); International Dance Festival, Istanbul, Turkey (2010); FinnUS American/Finnish Films, Embassy of Finland, DC (2011); Yosemite International Film Festival, (Recipient, John Muir Award for Outstanding Filmmaking) (2009); III Sao Carlos Video Danse Festival, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Research Channel, Seattle, Washington (2009); Wallumbin Film Festival, Wollumbin, Australia (2008); Get Reel in Moab Film Festival, Moab, Utah (2008); Women Make Movies VIII, Kennedy Center, Washington, DC (1993); IMZ Dance Screen,Frankfurt, Germany (1992);
Women in Film Festival, Kennedy Center, Washington, DC (1991); Rosebud Film Festival, Arlington, VA (1991); Metro Dance Arts, Cable-TV, Farifax, VA (5 programs produced by Linda Lewett (1985-1990)
Company support has been received from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Dallas Morse Coors Foundation, American-Scandinavian Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Dilthey Foundation, U.S. Department of State, others
A powerful and commanding performer, is known for her daring in movement and innovation as a choreographer. She has created a significant body of work for Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, over 150 dances and projects of breadth and vision, involving a process of experimentation and collaboration. Every three to five years, Maida initiates and produces a large-scale work resulting from on-site research and investigation. Current projects involve international travel and collaboration with artists, scientists, anthropologists, and technologists. Maida has an on-going interest in the use of technology, multimedia and new media, mixing imagination and daring with a keen sense of formal structure and beauty. Works reflect her activism for art and other important social and political issue through thought-provoking non-linear narratives often laced with wit and humor. Site specific performances and spontaneous choreography (scripting and scoring for dance) are important in the development of the works as well as an art creating spontaneous choreography during performance.
Maida’s career began in the late 1960’s following the completion of her BS in Dance and Theatre at Brigham Young University (1958) and her MS in Dance (1960) at the University of Utah. Inspired by the likes of Anna Halprin and John Cage, she soon took her own style, influenced as a student by renowned artists Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Alwin Nikolais, and Mary Wigman, from Germany. She was part of what has become known as the modern dance revolution that created post-modernism in dance in America. She is referred to as the “iconoclast of Washington dance,” and continues to be a national leader in the application of new media and technologies with dance. Starting in 1987, the earth and natural phenomenon became primary sources, subject and processes for several art projects for stage and video, making Maida an early leader in this artistic arena. She worked with 100 international artists for ecology in Brazil for the first international United Nation’s Earth Summit (Eco ’92), performing her work, Rolling Thunder. She developed an artistic technique involving the video camera as a collaborator in a land-site process with artists at earth sites, with indigenous people, location history, mythology, and other cultural aspects, that resulted in video art works or video art projects as an installation for stage works.
Maida has been instrumental in developing BA, MA, and MFA degree programs at The George Washington University. The university environment suits her intellectual curiosity and adventurous, independent spirit. She has been on the faculties of Purdue and Howard universities, taught nationally as a founder/specialist with the NEA Artists-in-Schools Program, and teaches continuously, internationally, for various festivals and conferences. Maida feels strongly that her art work informs the teaching and that teaching informs her art work as well. She received her BA at Brigham Young University in Dance and Theatre and her MA at the University of Utah.
Maida has played a significant role in Washington, DC as a curator, producer, and board member. In 1995 Maida founded the DC International Dance Improvisation Plus+ Festival that continued for fourteen years, a precursor to the DC Fringe Festival. She has co-produced performances with District Curators, The Washington Performing Arts Society, various embassies, and others. She founded the Dance Direction Festival, an annual two-week performance season in Marvin Center for local artists, and has presented or co-produced concerts by international artists Phillip Glass (The Photographer), Kei Takei, Yamada Setsuko and H. Art Chaos (Japan), Kim JeYoung and Kim Hyun Je (Korea), Slaski Teatr Tanca (Poland), and residencies with American icons such as Erick Hawkins, Yvonne Rainer, Anna Halprin, Meredith Monk, Ann Carlson, others. Withers served on the founding board of directors of the now famous Washington Project for the Arts, working in that capacity with visual, dance, and media artists for eight years, Program Chair for 3 years. She served a 3-year term on the Kennedy Center Education Committee. She continues to serve on various selection committees for artist grants.
Maida’s dance videos have been shown nationally and internationally at film festivals, as part of on-stage performances, and on cable and mainstream television. SandS Cycles, a land site video created at White Sands, New Mexico and Coral Dunes, Utah, toured with In Winds of Sand to China, Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Paris, Venezuela. Orbit was selected for showing at the 1990 DC Rosebud Film Festival; 1991 Women in Film Festival, Kennedy Center; and exhibited in Frankfurt, Germany at 1992 IMZ Dance Screen. State of the Art, a video art documentary, received national recognition for innovative local cable programming. Withers narrated Dance, Dance, Dance, in 1978, a ten-part series for NBC-TV, broadcast in five major US cities. Utah * Tukuhnikivatz video and earth art slide installation was the final event for the 1997 Environmental Film Festival of Washington, DC. In February 2007, Maida and Belle Cluff, filmmaker, will create one minute daily “decadance” videos in Kenya and Tanzania to display on YouTube.
In 2005, at the Kennedy Center, Maida Withers and the Dance Construction Company received the Metro DCDance Award – Outstanding Overall Production in a Large Venue for Thresholds Crossed. Maida and the Company received the coveted Washington, DC Mayor’s Arts Award for Artistic Achievement in the Discipline, at the Kennedy Center. In 2001 Maida received the prestigious Pola Nirenska Life-Time Artistic Achievement Award presented by The Washington Performing Arts Society and as part of the 2001 DC Metro Dance Awards. She was selected by faculty peers for a Columbian Professorship, Distinguished Professor award, by The George Washington University. Grants have been received from the National Endowment for the Arts, Choreographers Fellowships; NEA Inter Arts; NEA Visual Arts in Performing Arts; DC and Virginia Commissions for the Arts; Dilthey Fellowship for Collaboration; The George Washington University Faculty Research Awards; Washington Area Studies Grant for Cultural Preservation and Archiving; Fulbright Travel Award to Taiwan; Kansai University Exchange to Japan; Washingtonian Magazine Award to Outstanding Women; and others. Many of Withers international workshops and performances are supported by the United States Information Services, and US Embassies. The Company and Maida’s choreography and international travels continue to be supported by The Trust for Mutual Understanding, Ford Foundation in Russia, DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities, U.S. Embassies in Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, and others, along with several American corporations located in Washington, DC.