Robin E. Williams, Naked Feet dance leader who assisted veterans, dies

Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Robin Elizabeth Williams, who led the Naked Feet Dance Company and later assisted veterans, died of cancer June 22 at her home in Anneslie. She was 66.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Ruxton and Roland Park, she was the daughter of Jack H. Williams, an attorney and headmaster of the Boys’ Latin School, and and his wife, Janet Scott Williams, a tutor for dyslexic students..

She attended 11 grades at Roland Park Country School and was a 1972 graduate of the Park School.

As a girl she became interested in ice skating and became a student of Robert S. Ogilvie, a champion skater who taught her at the Baltimore Ice Club in Mount Washington.

“Her many years of training as an ice skater influenced her later dancing and choreography,” said Diana Curran, a close friend and fellow dancer. “When she danced, she knew how to flow — it was like she was still on the ice.”

A family biography said that before leaving high school she became an American and European double gold medalist.

She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art and earned a bachelor’s degree from Goucher College, where she majored in creative art.

Ms. Curran, a close friend from their student days at Goucher, said that Ms. Williams loved verse and found the name she used for the dance company, Naked Feet, in a poem.

“Robin loved poetry and used it for inspiration for her art classes,” Ms. Curran said. “As a person she was calm and liked her solitude. She was not loud or boisterous. She knew her muses. She was intrigued by nature and the supernatural as well.”

She also said, “Robin’s dances were beautiful. She gave things time and a lot of concentration. Her choreography was always wonderful. Her signature piece was called “Daughters of Unrest.‘ ”

From 1978 to 1988 Ms. Williams co-founded, directed, and choreographed the Naked Feet Dance Company. She taught dance-designed performances for adults and schools through Young Audiences of Maryland. She and her company performed at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Towson University, Theater Project, Artscape and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

She also took her company to perform at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, and at Marymount Manhattan College.

Her sister, Jenny Williams, said she collaborated with local performers and composers to create one-of-a-kind dances.

“She was quiet but was an intense person,” her sister said. “She had a drive, as a figure skater, to master things. She practiced this in her life, later as a teacher. She was always encouraging people to do art.”

She moved to Atlanta, in 1988 and taught dance and choreography for Georgia for the Arts, Pebblebrook Performing Arts High School, Young Audiences of Atlanta and the Georgia Governor’s Honors program.

Ms. Williams received a bachelor’s degree in art education from Georgia State University in 2000 and became an art teacher.

While in Atlanta she met her future husband, Keith Misemer.

She later became a Certified Movement Analyst through the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies at the University of Maryland.

With art education certification in Georgia, Connecticut and Maryland, she taught art to grades K-8 in the Bridgeport Public Schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and at St. James Academy in Monkton.

After returning to Baltimore in 2004, she became a mediator and practiced Buddhism. She went on to became director of education at the Baltimore Shambhala Meditation Center in Charles Village. She later founded Inner Harbor Wellness, a business for teaching meditation and mindfulness. She sponsored classes by local artists and practitioners.

She assisted clients among whom were military veterans suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome.

She was an avid reader and a founding member of the Wise Old Women’s Literary Society.

“Robin was a perennial student, teacher, artist and spiritual seeker,” her sister said. “Her love of traveling to learn took her to Ireland, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and the USA. She also enjoyed music, bead work, international cultural crafts, assemblages, collage and qigong.”

In addition to her sister, survivors include her husband of 25 years, a Lockheed Martin mechanical engineer; a brother, Bayard Williams of Rodgers Forge; and nieces and nephews.

A funeral service was private, and a celebratory memorial service will be held at a later date.

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