Simon Williams

©Mirella Frangella

Simon Williams was born in Stockton-on-Tees, a market town in the north east of England, to English parents Sandra and Steve. From the age of 5, he attended dance lessons with his sister Deborah and enjoyed choreographing performances from a young age. He attended Blakeston Comprehensive School where he played the euphonium in the school orchestra.

At the age of 16 in a final of over 90 dancers, Simon won Cosmopolitan magazines Dancer of the year Award in 1992 at Sadler’s Wells theatre, London. He went on to receive a higher education diploma in dance, voice and drama at The London Studio Centre graduating in 1995.

While studying, Simon worked as a dancer at The BBC in London and in musical theatre production Carousel directed by Paul Kerryson and choreographed by the legendary Les Child at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre. During this time he worked alongside choreographer Mitch Sebastian in AIDS benefit Promenaid 1993 together with British musical stars Marti Webb, Rocky Horror Picture Show creator Richard O’Brien and singer Labi Siffre.

In 1997 after a year of further training at the prestigious Geneva Ballet Junior under the direction of Beatriz Conseulo, Simon moved to New York where he was engaged as a dancer with The Joffery II Concert Dancers and as a dancer with America singer and musician Al Jarreau. In the USA he performed in new versions of Nutcracker and Coppelia with The Los Angeles Classical Ballet and Connecticut Ballet

Returning to Europe Simon was engaged in television and musical theatre productions including Space Dream in Switzerland and Grease the musical at Capitol Theater Düsseldorf and Theater Des Westens Berlin, where at the age of 22 he was appointed dance captain for the production. From 1998 – 2001 he moved to Vienna to work with director Roman Polanski in his stage show Tanz Der Vampire at the Raimund Theater and later Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with director Werner Sobotka and Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical with director and choreography Kim Duddy, for which he received a gold disc for his appearance on the original cast recording, selling over 25,000 copies. During his three years living in Vienna, Simon trained privately with vocal coach Jack Poppell and received German phonetics training.  He was engaged as a full-time faculty member at Performing Art Center Austria teaching dance for singers and actors as well as dancers at a professional dance level.

2002 – 2005, Simon was based in London where he joined Matthew Bournes’ Company New Adventures. He performed in the award winning production Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake which included two world tours and lengthy residencies at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, London 2004

In 2004 he met French composer An Ton-That and formed SWATT collective in Paris France. Together with American dancer Kristina Berger and former 70’s fashion model Karen Isgrig (AKA The Lost Star) they created original dance performances, Parisienne art salon parties and theatrical concert productions in Paris, Zurich and Taipei. It was at this time Simon began exploring mixing different artforms together with a collective of artists.

2007 – 2009 he became a resident artist at Taipei Artist Village in Taiwan, Simon directed and produced multi-media arts events with local artists and choreographed short dance films with Wander Woman & On the Wire (FIVU Festival Internacional de Videodanza del Uruguay and Urban Nomad Filmfest, Taipei). In Taipei he was invited to teach dance at Taiwan’s National University for the Arts (TNUA) and choreographed for dance companies all around Taiwan.

In 2009 Simon was invited to choreograph a dance piece for UK break dance champions Bad Taste Cru. The work ImreadywhenUR which was presented at The Place Theatre in London was then later invited to be performed at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden London.

The Place Theatre London 2009
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From 2010-2013 Simon was engaged at Zurich Opera House where he performed as a dancer and assisted choreographer Renato Zanella. He worked alongside stars including Anna Netrebko and Vesselina Kasarova and with directors including Peter Stein, David Poutney and the late Harry Kupfer. At Hamburg State Opera, he was invited to assist in the re-staging of Borodin’s opera Fürst Igor, under the leadership of Simone Young.

In 2012 Simon self-produced and directedEnough’ a series of sell-out concerts with British spoken word artist and electronic music pioneer Anne Clark at Dynamo Art Centre in Zuric

Simon was drawn to Berlin in 2013. At the time Berlin seemed like an affordable place to experiment with new creative ideas. Soon after arriving in Berlin he founded a language exchange event Speak Easy located at Sally Bowles events bar. The event was created for people from around the world to meet and connect in a friendly and easy-going atmosphere. Tables were set up throughout the room with flags representing what languages were spoken at that table. Speak Easy quickly became one of the hottest networking events in town moving to a bigger venue Bar Franzotti in Kreuzberg. Attracting over 100 participants each week with between 10-20 different languages being spoken each night, Speak Easy ran for over 5 years developing a rich network.

2013 Pop-Up Art Gallery Berlin Photographer: Vincent Barker

In summer 2013 Simon opened a Pop-Up Gallery in Schöneberg for Berlin based artists. What started out as a summer project turned into a one-year adventure with art exhibitions opening every Friday evening. Pop-Up Art Gallery Berlin brought together a close community and in its first year showcased the works of over 100 artists.

© Mirella Frangela

In September 2014, Simon got the keys to a new bigger venue on Nollendorfstrasse, which in former times had been the operations office of the original ‘Theater am Nollendorfplatz’ which was later partly demolished after WWII. A few doors away on Nollendorfstrasse, British writer and inspiration Christopher Isherwood had lived and written his famous Berlin stories that would later bs used as inspiration for the 70’s Oscar winning movie Cabaret.

The Ballery opened with an exhibition and performance event entitled The Birth of the Cool.