Robyn Mineko Williams

“In my real life, I’m a bit shy. When I’m moving, I don’t even think about those things. I can go into the studio, put on music and not judge myself.”

Music to inspire choreography

On one side of Robin Mineko Williams’ performance career with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is a child with a dream who papered her bedroom walls with pictures of the company; on the other is a grown-up artist aching to explore new avenues of creativity. “After being in the company for 12 years (and River North Dance Chicago for 4 before that), it was all I knew,” she says. “My professional experience was being a dancer in a company. I was curious to see what else I could do in the dance world.”

Since leaving HSDC in 2012, she has choreographed several well-received pieces for the company, as well as for Visceral Dance Chicago, Grand Rapids Ballet and other groups. The Princess Grace Foundation has twice recognized her for her work.

A foundation of her choreographic process is flexibility. She starts with a concise theme or idea but stays open to new information that could change her vision. “While I’m making a work, anything is welcome to flood in. If I’m walking outside and see an odd-shaped cloud, that will somehow work itself into the piece. It’s important to me to have these seeds [of ideas] but stay open to what’s happening now.”

In rehearsals or to awaken inspiration on her own, Williams hunts for music that captures the mood she’s striving for, even if it isn’t what she’ll use for the final piece. She often chooses atmospheric, electronic tracks that create worlds of their own with space for movement. DT

Artist: Factory Floor

Song: “Two Different Ways”

Percussion builds throughout this electronic track with a driving synth line. “This song is an instant movement-maker for me. I feel like as soon as it begins, things immediately start to percolate.”



Artist: L’Orange

Song: “Eventually”

L’Orange is known for crafting slow, cinematic hip-hop tracks with samples from film noir dialogue. “I love the sampling on this track and the world it takes me to, somewhere in an unknown future or past.”



Artist: Chromatics

Song: “I’m On Fire”

With wistful female vocals and strings backing, “it’s a classic Bruce Springsteen tune, covered in the most fantastical way.”




Artist: Erik Satie

Song: “Gymnopédie No. 1”

An instrumental piano track with a melancholy melody, “this is a gorgeous, timeless piece that I find instantly calms the heart and the head.”



Artist: Grimes

Song: “Oblivion”

“I love the album Visions in general. This specific track is a good go-to when I want to reenergize and start fresh. I think it has insta-smile properties.”




Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of Mineko Williams

Getty Images

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