A dance with the bride

Kimberly Williams, a Northwestern alumna who played the bride in “Father of the Bride,” told the students packing Tech Auditorium for a Dance Marathon information session Tuesday night that she is promoting DM because of her dance teacher, Tim O’Slynne.

“He had boundless energy, humor and light,” Williams told The Daily before the information session. “During my senior year, he choreographed a dance to Sinead O’Conner’s version of the Elton John song, ‘Sacrifice.’ The dance expressed his feeling about living with HIV.”

After she graduated, she lost touch with O’Slynne and stopped dancing.

“One night, I realized I really missed dancing,” Williams said. “I jumped up on my couch and started doing the dance Tim taught us.

“Two days later, I found out that he had died that night.”

Williams, Speech ’93, returned to promote both DM and its main beneficiary this year, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to funding and conducting scientific research for children with HIV or AIDS.

Williams spoke at the information session after members of DM’s executive board described different committees that students could join if they were interested in DM. Spokespeople from the Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Evanston Community Foundation, DM’s secondary beneficiary, also addressed students.

Williams never danced at DM as a student, a decision she said she now regrets.

“It seems like such an emotional, tremendous accomplishment after dancing for 24 hours,” she said. When told that dancers now go for 30 hours, a look of mock horror came across her face and she said, “You guys are crazy!”

Although she never danced, she said she stopped by to take part in the festivities every year when she was a student.

“I dragged (actor) Chris O’Donnell to DM my senior year,” she said. “I met him at the Chicago Film Critics award show, and I told him, ‘There’s this great charity event, Dance Marathon, they have a casino downstairs and dancers upstairs. It’s great, you’ve got to come.’ I think he was expecting to go out to dinner, but I said, ‘No, you can get food there.’ We had a really good time.”

Williams graduated with a degree in Interpersonal Communications. She spent her first three years as a theater major and that experience has helped her enormously in her acting career, she said.

“There’s Northwestern mafia everywhere,” she said. “A director just told me they look for people from specific schools for their shows. If they’re looking for a college grad, they’d look for someone from Northwestern because the training is so good.”

It was a friend from NU, Abby Epstein, who told Williams about the audition for “Father of the Bride.” She recently worked with Epstein again in a production of “The Vagina Monologues” in New York City.

Williams also spends a lot of time with other charity organizations.

“I work with Teach for America; I do a lot of reading for kids,” she said. “I like working with children because I think that’s a great place to start helping.”

She began working with EGPAF when she volunteered at its Carnival of Heroes — the organization’s largest annual fund-raiser — a few years ago. Celebrities often help work booths at the carnival, drawing in more than $2 million last year, according to EGPAF’s university liaison, Joel Goodman.

“I think it’s wonderful that the Pediatric AIDS foundation is DM’s beneficiary this year,” Williams said. “It’s good to get young people helping other young people.”