Christopher Williams (he/him), hailed as “one of the most exciting choreographic voices out there" (The New York Times) and “the downtown prodigy" (The New Yorker) conjuring up “extraordinary feats of visual imagination" (The New York Times), is a choreographer, dancer, and puppet artist who has created over forty original and collaborative works in Lenapehoking (the unceded lands of the Lenape people, now designated New York City) and abroad since 1999. In addition to touring internationally in France, England, Italy, Spain, Holland, Colombia, Malawi, Indonesia, and Russia, as well as nationally in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Kalamazoo, Walla Walla, Princeton, Bainbridge Island, Lewiston, Carlisle, Interlochen, Kaatsbaan, and Jacob's Pillow, his works have been presented in many local venues including Lincoln Center, City Center, Baryshnikov Arts, The Joyce Theater, New York Live Arts, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, La MaMa, P.S. 122, HERE Arts Center, the 92nd Street Y, Joyce SoHo, Symphony Space, Dixon Place, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Socrates Sculpture Park, Judson Church, Dance New Amsterdam, and The Mulberry Street Theater, as well as in the Late Night Cabaret of the Jim Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater, and via American Opera Projects in OPERA America′s New Works Forum.
Christopher was named a choreography fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2021 and received a New York Dance & Performance “Bessie" Award in 2005 for his work Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins (2005). The design team for his work “Narcissus" (2021) was also nominated for a “Bessie" in the category of outstanding visual design, and he was additionally recognized with an impromptu Ishmael Houston-Jones “Messie" Award for his work The Golden Legend (2009), which was listed among the 10 best dance performances of 2009 by Joan Acocella in The New Yorker. He has been awarded fellowships from The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Center for Ballet and the Arts, the Bogliasco Foundation (for multiple residencies at the Liguria Study Center for Arts & Humanities in Bogliasco, Italy), and was granted a Bessie Schönberg Memorial Endowed Fellowship for a residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. He was one of four finalists for the Hermitage Greenfield Prize in 2023, was named an honoree of Exploring the Metropolis in 2017 after receiving an EtM Choreographer + Composer Residency, and has been granted creative residencies at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, New York Live Arts as a Live Feed Resident Artist, Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies, Bethany Arts Community, Marble House Project, Chautauqua Institution, Kaatsbaan Culture Park, Joyce SoHo, Dance New Amsterdam, The White Oak Plantation, The Yard, Bates Dance Festival, Mt. Tremper Arts, Robert Wilson's Watermill Center, on Captiva Island via the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, through Movement Research, the Harkness Dance Center at the 92nd Street Y, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Dream Music Puppetry Program, the HERE Artist Residency Program, Bainbridge Dance Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, the Anderson Center, and at Yaddo where he was named for the Charles and Candace Wait Residency in 2014. Foundations and organizations that have supported his work include the New York State Council on the Arts, the Jim Henson Foundation, the O′Donnell-Green Music & Dance Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, American Music Center′s Live Music for Dance Program, the International Festival Society, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Greenwall Foundation.
Christopher has been commissioned by Mikhail Baryshnikov, The Joyce Theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York Live Arts, Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles/Opéra National de Bordeaux, English National Opera, Teatro Real/Perm Opera & Ballet Theater, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, the Harkness Dance Center and Harkness Repertory Ensemble at the 92nd Street Y, Philadelphia Dance Projects, American Opera Projects, Reid & Harriet Design, The Blanket, 10 Hairy Legs, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Bates Dance Festival, and HERE Arts Center's Dream Music Puppetry Program, and has set original works on students at Princeton University, NYU′s Tisch School of the Arts, Sarah Lawrence College, Dickinson College, Interlochen Arts Academy, Bainbridge Dance Center, and the Chadwick School. He has also had the great fortune of collaborating with many distinguished artists including renowned opera directors Peter Sellars and Michel Fau, composers Gregory Spears, Nico Muhly, Robert Een, Peter Kirn, David Griffin, and Ivan Jiménez, visual designer Andrew Jordan, sculptor, doll-maker, and puppet designer Wendy Froud, costume designers Carol Binion, Ciera Wells, and Timothy Westbrook, lighting designers Joe Levasseur, Kathy Kaufmann, and Carol Mullins, visual artist Rosario López Parra, choreographers Patti Bradshaw and Kindra Windish, puppeteer and set designer Tom Lee, puppeteers Basil Twist, Lake Simons, Eric Wright, and Matt Acheson, as well as with musical director Raphaël Pichon of Ensemble Pygmalion, and members of Piffaro, Modern Medieval, The New York Consort of Viols, Sonnambula, the Sebastian Chamber Players, Lionheart, and the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble Anonymous 4. His collaboration with director Michel Fau and musical director Raphaël Pichon for a production of Jean-Philippe Rameau's Dardanus presented at the Opéra Royal du Château de Versailles won the Grand Prix du Syndicat de la Critique 2015 in the category of “best Spectacle Lyrique of the year" and his collaboration with Peter Sellars on a new adaptation of Henry Purcell's The Indian Queen presented at The Bolshoi Theater won five Golden Mask Awards in Moscow.
Christopher has danced for Douglas Dunn + Dancers, Rebecca Lazier, Tere O'Connor Dance, Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks, John Kelly, Sally Silvers, Mina Nishimura, Michou Szabo, Yvonne Meier, Jon Kinzel, Renée Archibald, Edisa Weeks, Risa Jaroslow, Nanine Linning, Beppie Blankert, Wendy Rogers, Lisa Gonzales, Eliza Miller, Anita Cheng, and Elise Knudson, and has also performed for Peter Sellars, David Neumann, Fred Ho, and Charles Atlas. As a puppeteer, Christopher has worked with the award-winnning master puppeteer Basil Twist, both serving as the Ballet Captain for the puppets' choreography as well as developing roles in his versions of the ballets Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. He has also toured in the award-winning work of Dan Hurlin (including Everyday Uses for Sight no. 3 and Hiroshima Maiden), with Hamid Rahmanian's Kingorama, Phantom Limb Company, and has appeared in works by puppet artists Chris M. Green, Erin K. Orr, Kate Brehm, and Lake Simons.
Christopher was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Syracuse, New York where he began early studies of gymnastics, drama, music, and ballet. He earned a diploma from the École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris where he studied physical theatre, acrobatics, and mask traditions from 1996-1998, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1999 from Sarah Lawrence College where he studied choreography with the late Viola Farber and puppetry with Dan Hurlin. He has also studied contemporary dance and ballet most notably with Douglas Dunn, Rebecca Lazier, Vicky Shick, Jeremy Nelson, Janet Panetta, Lance Westergard, John Jasperse, Janet Charleston, the late June Finch, and at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio, where he received three scholarships for participation in their professional training program. He has been an Affiliate Artist in the Dance/Theater departments at Sarah Lawrence College and served on the Artist Advisory Board for Danspace Project. He currently lives in Washington Heights.
View some of Christopher's complete recent works on PerformVu at https://www.performvu.com.
Christopher′s long-term project Marginalia is fiscally sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Christopher's web log “The Land of Nimbi" may also be viewed here.
Find Christopher on Instagram as @faycavalier.