Interview and Film: Dance in the Desert 2020, Las Vegas, Nevada

22nd Annual Festival
College of Southern Nevada
Summerlin Library & Performing Arts Center / Interview
Las Vegas, NV

In 1999,  Kelly Roth, Professor, Choreographer, Dancer, and Kyle  Quintero,  established the annual Dance in the Desert Festival in Las Vegas,  Nevada.   In 2010 Maida performed in the Festival with collaborators Steve Hilmy and Ayo Okunseinde.  She received the “DAFFY” Award on the 31st day of July, 2010.   Due to the Corona Virus pandemic, the 2020 Dance in the Desert Festival featured films online and other virtual project.  Maida was invited to show her important film, Thresholds Crossed, Gulag-Art Angar (3:51) – see below.  Maida was interviewed by the Summerlin Library for the 2020 celebration.  Much appreciation to my dear friend, Kelly Roth and Jody Caley at the Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center.


Interview Introduction:
Maida was born in Kanab, Utah, “little Hollywood,” located on the Utah/Arizona border.  By age six  she attended Salem Elementary School where she began her study of dance (ballet, tap/jazz, and acrobatics) with LaVaun Turner and she taught children in various small towns in Utah County on the weekends with and for LaVaun starting at age 13.   At Spanish Fork High School, as Girls Athletic Association President, Maida co-directed two student dance concerts of student choreography in the high school auditorium.  Maida’s first dance was created to “Rhapsody in Blue.”  Maida graduated from Spanish Fork High School in Utah in 1954 and went to Brigham Young University on an academic scholarship where she studied modern dance and theater in Provo, Utah where she earned a BA degree in 1958.  While studying at BYU with instructor Gerry Glover, Maida was introduced to Erick Hawkins and Lucia Dlugoszewski and, also, Anna Halprin, guest artists. During this time, Maida studied in In the summer of 1955 (5 or 6?) at the Welland Lathrop/Anna Halprin experimental dance studio in San Francisco, CA.  Anna Halprin invited Maida to participate that summer in the first “dance deck” workshop with Anna Halprin in San Marin County, CA.  In the summer of 1956 (6 or 7) Maida participated in the eight-week summer dance program at Colorado College with German artist/educator Hanya Holm.  In 1958-59 Maida taught dance at Rick’s College where she met her husband Lawrence Arlen Withers.  In 1960 Maida completed her MS in Dance with a minor in Education at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah where she studied with Joan Woodbury and Shirley Ririe along with guest artist Lucas Hoving and in the summer with Alwin Nikolais. (Maida taught later in NYC at the Alwin Nikolais school.) In Salt Lake City, Maida taught children’s dance at the Virginia Tanner Children’s Dance Theatre/Creative Dance Program.  During the summer of 1959 Maida studied at the American Dance Festival (ADF) in New London, Connecticut where she studied dance with Lucas Hoving, Martha Graham, Louis Horst (composition), Merce Cunningham, and where she became aware of the significant ideas of John Cage  through his public lecture and performance.  Maida taught dance at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana 1960-63, where she also performed as an actress. On a 1962 Purdue University faculty grant, Maida studied with Mary Wigman in West Berlin, Germany and at the Folkwangschule in Essen Werden, Germany. In 1965 Maida began teaching dance at the George Washington University where she participated in establishing the MA in Dance (1965) and the BA in Dance (1966) in the School of Education. Maida established the GW Summer Dance Workshop three-week intensive program that lasted for ten summers and featured herself and national artists Norman Walker, Yvonne Rainer, Rudy Perez, Mel Wong, Don Redlich, Pat Catterson, Sara Rudner, and others.  In 1988 the MFA in Dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance was established, in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Currently the dance program resides in the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.   In 2007 the MFA Distance Learning Program in Dance at GWU was established.  It was one of the earliest Hybrid Dance Programs in the USA.  Maida’s teaching focuses at the undergraduate level in courses such as Dance Technique as Performance, Dance and Movement Improvisation, Trends in Performance Art, Dance Composition, and Choreography, and advising Honor’s Theses projects.  Maida has served as the Artistic Director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design Dance Season of performances, guest artists, cultural projects.

Go to to learn more about Maida’s fascinating life in dance!

Maida Withers presents “Thresholds Crossed” the first section of a two piece dance about Abu Ghraib, however the second half of the dance  was never filmed at the Gulag in Russia because the video camera accidentally fell in the White Sea and was not usabel.

Film presented at the Dance in the Desert Festival: