UArts Pre-College: Alumnus William Robinson

BFA ’08; Summer Institute, ‘02, ‘03


Pre-College Summer Institute, ‘02, ‘03

BFA ’08, Modern Dance Performance
President’s Award
Outstanding Achievement in Modern Dance Award

Company Member, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, Cardell Dance Theater; idiosynCrazy Productions
Dance Instructor, Georgian Court University; The University of the Arts
Adjunct Professor, Dance, 2012-present

Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Current living in: Philadelphia


“Summer Institute is where I was exposed to the thrill of performing.”


William Robinson discovered the “unique athleticism of dance,” his passion for live performance, and the capacity of art to change not only the way we move, but the way we perceive the world at the University of the Arts. He came to dance by accident—as a middle school student he waited too long to sign up for one of the school’s required electives, dance was the only class still open—and to Summer Institute because his middle school dance teacher kept insisting that he would love it. He returned to Summer Institute for a second summer, and subsequently as an undergraduate, because he loved both UArts and Philadelphia and because by then he was sure he wanted a career in dance. 

William has enjoyed early professional success, including collaborations with choreographer Curt Haworth and with Ishamel Houston-Jones, Michael Bello, and Dan Martin in Philadelphia Dance Projects. He currently performs with three Philadelphia-based dance companies, including Brian Sanders’ JUNK, known for its blend of traditional dance theater with inventive physicality and the imaginative use of found objects. Brian was William’s first teacher at UArts and remains his most important mentor. He has danced in numerous productions with Brian Sanders’ JUNK (Urban Scuba, American Standard, Dancing Dead, among others) on stages in Philadelphia, New York City, and Dubai, and at the Jacob’s Pillow festival in Massachusetts. Since 2010, William has also danced with Cardell Dance Theater (Supper, People on the Move, Vertex, among others) under the direction of Silvana Cardell whose provocative choreography, innovative collaborations with artists in multiple disciplines, and empathic exploration of pressing social themes have provided William with an ideal vehicle to express both his physicality and his desire to “gain perspective and learn through dance.” He has also performed since 2010 with Jumatatu Poe’s idiosynCrazy Productions, which is dedicated to “pushing dance and performance work to imaginative edges” through collaborations among artists working in a variety of media. William has danced with IdiosynCrazy (Unstuck, A Big Enough Grief, Let ‘im move you, among other works) at multiple venues in Philadelphia; La Mama, Judson Church, and Brooklyn Studios for Dance in New York; and at Performance Space in Santa Monica, California. William’s current dance colleagues include many UArts faculty members and alumni, among them Senior Lecturer Shannon Murphy and Master Lecturer Bethany Formica.


“The arts can create change or support resistance, bring forth the under-represented and under-seen, and hold a mirror up to society.”


William is drawn to challenging, demanding work, and even to “harsh stage environments,” productions that put him in a “difficult place emotionally and physically.” UArts was great training, he says, for a life in dance that helps him continue to be self-reflective and to think deeply about change. After attending Summer Institute, he chose UArts for his undergraduate work because he knew it was a place that would allow him to stretch and grow. He brings this approach to dance as a way to learn perspective and his belief that art is a critical part of our culture to his teaching. He has mentored students through idiosynCrazy Productions’ Swarthmore Project and is currently an adjunct instructor at the University of the Arts and Georgian Court University in New Jersey.


“I am grateful to have a wonderful career that would not have been possible without my Pre-College experience.”


Advanced training—William plans to pursue a graduate degree—and more teaching figure into his future plans, as well as new performances and tours with Cardell Dance Theater, idioSyncrazy Productions, and Brian Sanders’ JUNK. Innovative choreography that allows him to work in a strenuous way and think strategically about movement continues to drive him as an artist, collaborator, and teacher.