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Three Questions for Robyn Mineko Williams

Robyn Mineko Williams
Photo: Chloe Hamilton

The choreographer and former Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performer had originally intended Echo Mine, which has its one-night premiere on December 7 at the Harris Theater, as a solo work for Claire Bataille, a founding member of the company. But Williams had to rethink the piece after Bataille was diagnosed with cancer. (She died last December.) The work evolved into a trio for Jacqueline Burnett, Meredith Dincolo, and Williams, who here discusses the three-year process behind it.

Initially, the idea was for a piece about the losses Bataille experienced — her mom’s death and her own retirement. How exactly did it change once you knew she wouldn’t be able to perform it?

I knew I didn’t want to make a piece about her dying. But in a way, you can’t help but present what happened. Her death isn’t the whole thing, but it’s a part of it.

So is it less of a requiem for Bataille and more about loss in general?

I think so. There are themes of loss because of what Claire and I had spoken about before she was sick. Obviously, she recognized while we were working on it how horribly ironic it was that we’d settled on these subjects and themes.

Three Hubbard Street dancers — one current and two former — are in the cast, yet you’re not making this piece for the company. Why?

It really wasn’t intentional. It just turned out that way because the two other dancers were my first gut choices. Echo Mine, to me, has nothing to do with Hubbard Street, except for that’s how Claire and I met, and she was such an important figure there.

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