Ligia Lewis, "Water Will (in melody)"

Event Type
Event Description

In this devised choreographic work for four performers, melodrama and darkness—both literally onstage and psychologically—are points of departure for wrestling with notions of the “willful” black femme figure in action. Playing with how mime both over-performs and under-describes our reality, Berlin-based choreographer Ligia Lewis creates a grotesque mash-up of natural landscape and human behavior. In Water Will (in Melody), Lewis returns to Chicago to use the MCA theater as a cavernous space for negotiating desire, imagining the future, and shifting our perceptions—a space at once rife with potential and full of impossibility, where the familiar symbolism of the body comes unhinged. Unfolding in a wet, dystopian, gothic landscape, Lewis’s disorienting fantasy undoes the senses to reform them anew, paving the way for an “othered” organization of experiencing the world, in a fiction that invites instability, re-creation, and catastrophe.

Water Will (in Melody) is the final chapter of Lewis’s Blue, Red, White triptych which began with Sorrow Swag (2014) in blue and minor matter (2016) in red. Each piece takes on a different color, texture, and emotional palette to grapple with the ways that dancing subjects show up on stage in front of an audience, by altering expectations about race, gender, and choreographed movement.



Thu, Jan 30, 7–7:45 pm
The Commons

Arrive early and get primed for the performance! One hour before the start of the show, join MCA staff members in a participatory conversation on the themes and content of the work.

Water Will (in Melody) opens by retelling a version of "The Willful Child," a lesser-known fairy tale by the Grimm Brothers, before launching into a mysterious exploration of how society responds to willfulness. We’ll dive deeper into the performance’s subject matter by reading this short text together. Grab a signature cocktail from Marisol and then head right up to the Commons for a rich conversation! We’ll be sure to leave enough time for you to pick up your tickets from will call and find a seat.


Fri, Jan 31, immediately following the performance

Performance scholars Tina Post, of the University of Chicago, and Joshua Chamber-Letson, of Northwestern University, are joined by choreographer and performer Ligia Lewis for an in-depth conversation on her work and process.


Fri, Jan 31, Audio Description

Victor Cole provides an optional live audio description for patrons who are blind or have low vision. Headsets can be reserved by calling our Box Office at 312-397-4010 or by emailing

Running Time
60 minutes
Dance Styles
Modern / Contemporary


Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

220 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 397-4010