EVEN AMONG the grandes dames of dance in Washington, it takes chutzpah to put on a one-woman show about yourself, your life's work and your place in the universe. But dancer, choreographer and George Washington University professor Maida Withers claims it's all in good fun. "This is sort of campy," Withers says. "It's humorous, putting myself on the spot -- and it's intended to be ludicrous."
A one-woman retrospective, "Maida on Maida in the Universe" brings together 30 years of Withers's dances, plus live electronic and trombone music from composer Cam Millar, archival videos and photos of and by Withers and images of the galaxy from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The program takes place Friday and Saturday at GWU's Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre.
Withers, 65, who formed the Dance Construction Company in 1974, has been pushing dance's technological envelope for decades. In the '70s, "Laser Dance" included light sculptures by laser artist Rockne Krebs. "Bog Works" and "Stall" experimented with moving loudspeaker installations by composer John Driscoll. By the 1980s, Withers revisited "Laser Dance" with original music by Bob Boilen, and she began collaborating with visual artists, composers and her dancers, using video and computer technology.
Her 1988 "Utah Project" featured dances videotaped outdoors and then shown in a theater with art installations and live dancers. Later, Withers joined with self-described cyber-world artist Tania Fraga for "Aurora 2001, Dance of the Auroras/Fire in the Sky."
Withers says she's fascinated with the intersections between art and science, technology and intuitive performance. "My works are so very physical, very intricate, yet at the same time I like that juxtaposition between the human and the nonhuman," she explains.
Most recently, that juxtaposition has become computer generated. Because computers now play such an integral role in everyday life, this weekend Withers puts a computer on stage into which she will type a stream of consciousness monologue that the audience will see via stage projections.
"I'm trying to look at how we as humans can be interactive with technology," Withers says. Thus the choreographer seeks out collaborators, musicians, videographers, visual artists and computer artists who share her inquisitive nature. She also plans to take questions from her audience during the performance.
"That's the interactive aspect, for me," Withers says. "I'm taking a lot of risks -- revealing my ideas, my questions with society. I'm very outspoken, very visceral. Looking at my life, I have this energy, this passion. I'm not the punk I once was. This is the place I am at right now. I don't know where I'll be tomorrow."
MAIDA ON MAIDA IN THE UNIVERSE -- Friday and Saturday at 8, Marvin Theatre, 800 21st St. NW. Call 202-432-7328.