As children, one of the most asked questions we get is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” While we often have many answers to this question, some of us in our youth are fortunate enough to get glimpses of what our future holds. Perhaps we have an experience that helps us discover a certain talent or aptitude, or maybe it is a seemingly insignificant moment that, in hindsight, set us on a particular path that leads to limitless potential. For Water Street Dance Milwaukee Artistic Director Morgan Williams, there was such a moment in his youth that gave him a glimpse into the future he could have. That pivotal moment (which we will learn more about from Williams later) gave him the first inkling of his ability to lead a group of dancers.
While one moment may be enough to create a spark, it requires fuel to become something more. And Williams has certainly given fuel to the fire as he continues to tirelessly work to achieve new heights in his career as a professional dancer in both concert and commercial avenues, as well as a respected and sought-after teacher. His diverse experiences have made him the perfect fit to lead the equally diverse group of dance artists at Water Street Dance Milwaukee, who are set to take the stage at Marcus Performing Arts Center’s Wilson Theater in Milwaukee on Sunday, January 5, 2020.
DancerMusic Editor Kristi Licera recently had the chance to speak with Morgan about his career and learn more about Water Street’s upcoming performance of CENTERED. Here’s what he told us:
I wanted to find a balance between both the artistic and entertainment elements of dance with my company. Neither is more important than the other.
Kristi Licera: You have had an expansive career in the field of dance, with performance credits in both the concert and commercial sides of the industry ranging from features on So You Think You Can Dance (Season 10) to dancing with professional companies in the Midwest including Eisenhower Dance (Detroit) and currently, Visceral Dance Chicago. You also have in depth experience leading award-winning competitive studio companies and teaching professional and industry-level classes and workshops. Can you tell us about some of the pivotal moments of your career and how they have shaped the way that you lead and envision the future of Water Street Dance Milwaukee?
Morgan Williams: When I was younger, my very first performance was with the Joffrey Ballet. I remember being able to figure out how they did their casting for their production of The Nutcracker. When I was in 6th grade, I would take my composition book to dance class and start casting my friends in roles. Just as the Joffrey pros did, I made sure they didn’t have any quick changes. I guess you can say I always wanted to be a leader of some sort.
Water Street is not only a dance company with the aspirations of being a touring repertory dance company; it’s also my family.
Morgan: Being able to experience dance on so many platforms–concert and commercial being the main interactions–I wanted to find a balance between both the artistic and entertainment elements of dance with my company. Neither is more important than the other. You can’t have a dance without valuing the process it takes to create the movement. You are equally responsible for entertaining and emotionally affecting your audience.
Water Street is not only a dance company with the aspirations of being a touring repertory dance company; it’s also my family. I know and understand each of my dancers’ strengths and needs and will continue to do my best showcase and highlight them as the company progresses.
Kristi: Water Street Dance Milwaukee’s performance of CENTERED features five of your choreographic works as well as contributions from Luis Antonio and Kameron N. Saunders. Can you tell us more about how you came to choose CENTERED as the title of the show?
Morgan: I choose CENTERED as the title because I felt it best represented where we are as a company. During our season, we have a series of three performances that we always do. We titled the first show this season Re-alignment because I felt as though I was realigning my values and what it meant to be a company. Now I feel centered and want to showcase exactly what that re-aligning meant. Moreover, we will be performing CENTERED at the Marcus Center, where it all started for us as a company. This theater is our home and it felt fitting to do this performance there.
If you look at the definition of the word centered it says, “well-balanced and confident.” I feel all the rep and dancers in my show will show just that.
Water Street Dance Milwaukee presents CENTERED Sunday, January 5, 2020 at 3pm at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts’ Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall (929 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202). Tickets are available at marcuscenter.org.
To learn more about Water Street Dance Milwaukee, visit waterstreetdancemke.com.