elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Alwin Nikolais & Murray Louis

Alwin Nikolais (November 25, 1910 in Southington, Connecticut – May 8, 1993) was an American choreographer. With his life partner Murray Louis, Nikolais was a driving force in the Playhouse Dance Company, later the Nikolais Company. In July 1987, Nik and Murray, a feature-length documentary film about Nikolais and Murray Louis, directed by Christian Blackwood, aired on the PBS series American Masters.

At Colorado College in 1949 he met Murray Louis, who would later become his lifelong partner. That year he moved to New York and taught a dance class with Louis as a student. Louis made his debut as the lead soloist in Nikolais’ newly formed Playhouse Dance Company.

Nikolais studied piano at an early age and began his performing career as an organist accompanying silent films. As a young artist, he gained skills in scenic design, acting, puppetry and music composition. It was after attending a performance by the German dancer Mary Wigman that he was inspired to study dance. He received his early dance training at Bennington College from the great figures of the modern dance world: Hanya Holm, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Louis Horst, and others.

In 1940, in collaboration with Truda Kaschmann, his first modern dance teacher, Nikolais received a commission to create Eight Column Line, his first ballet. The work was presented at one of the events of Hartford social season that counted Salvador Dalí and Léonide Massine as honorary patrons and was well received.

Murray Louis choreographed more than one hundred dance works. With his life partner Alwin NIKOLAIS, Louis was a driving force in the Playhouse Dance Company, later the Nikolais Company. On May 8, 1993 Louis's mentor and partner, Alwin Nikolais, died. Louis did not dance for 2 years after Nikolais' death. In 1995 his company performed at Carnegie Hall for 10,000 children during their "LINK" program and in 1996 he completed a five-part video series titled, The World of Alwin Nikolais.

Louis, who was to become a driving force in the Playhouse Company, Nikolais' leading dancer and longtime collaborator.

After teaching two years at his own studio and touring the US with dancers from Hanya Holm's company, Nikolais did active duty in the Army during World War II as a master sergeant in criminal investigation. Nikolais relocated to New York City following the war and resumed studying with Hanya Holm. Eventually, he became Holm's assistant, teaching at her New York school and at Colorado College during the summers. In 1948, Nikolais was appointed director of the Henry Street Playhouse,which had been left in a state of transition and had to be entirely re-established. He formed the Playhouse Dance Company, which was later renamed and known as the Nikolais Dance Theatre. It was at Henry Street that Nikolais began to develop his own world of abstract dance theatre, portraying man as part of a total environment. Nikolais redefined dance, as "the art of motion which, left on its own merits, becomes the message as well as the medium". He Stated "The Province of art is to explore the inner mechanisms and extra dimensional areas of life and, out of the exploration, to produce its findings translated into the form of the artist's media." It was also at Henry Street Playhouse that Mr. Nikolais was joined by Murray

In 1956, the Nikolais Dance Theater was invited to its first of many appearances at the American Dance Festival. With this, his total dance theatre had begun to take shape, and the company established itself in the forefront of American contemporary dance. With the company's 1968 Paris season at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Nikolais' impact on dance grew internationally. Following Paris, the company began performing around the world. Here began a long artistic relationship with the Théâtre de la Ville which began in 1971 and continues now after his death.

In 1978, the French National Ministry of Culture invited him to form the Centre Nationale de la Danse Contemporaine in Angers, France. In December 1980, he created his 99th choreographic work Schema, for the Paris Opera. At the same time, his choreography for an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti was being staged at the Vienna Staatsoper.

In 1987, Nikolais was awarded the National Medal of Arts, bestowed by President Ronald Reagan, and the Kennedy Center Honors, conferred during a three-day round of official Washington events, which culminated in a CBS telecast featuring the Nikolais Dance Theater. Alwin Nikolais gave the world a new vision of dance and was named the "father of multi-media theater." He received the City of Paris' highest honor, the Grande Medaille de Vermeille de la Ville de Paris, as well as medals from Seville, Spain, Athens, Greece, and 30 other cities both foreign and national as well as a special citation from New York City's Mayor, which he shared with Murray Louis. Often referred to as the American Patriarch of French modern dance, Nikolais is a knight of France's Legion of Honor and a commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.

His accolades from the world of arts and letters included the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award; the Capezio Award; Circulo Criticos Award, Chile; Emmy Citation Award; Dance Magazine Award; the Tiffany Award; and the American Dance Guild Award. In 2000 he was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame.

Nikolais was granted five honorary doctorate degrees, was twice designated a Guggenheim Fellow, and was the recipient of a three-year creativity grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Mr. Nikolais and his work have been featured in numerous films and television programs in the US and abroad.

Nikolais was renowned as a master teacher, and his pedagogy is taught in schools and universities throughout the world. He died of cancer May 8, 1993, in New York and is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Nikolais purchased the first Moog analog synthesizer system.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alwin_Nikolais

Murray Louis choreographed more than one hundred dance works, toured five continents, and performed in every state in the US. Many prominent composers wrote music for him. Louis created ballets to the music of Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky, among others. He choreographed dances for the Royal Danish Ballet, the Jose Limon Company, the Hamburg Opera Ballet, the Scottish Ballet, the Berlin Opera Ballet, the Cleveland Ballet, and other smaller companies in the United States and Canada.

With his life partner Alwin Nikolais, Louis was a driving force in the Playhouse Dance Company, later the Nikolais Company. He also created the Murray Louis Dance Company.

Murray Louis (born November 4, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American modern dancer and choreographer.

Murray Louis was born on November 4, 1926 in Brooklyn, New York. He is known as one of the most influential American modern dancers and choreographers. He grew up in Manhattan near Henry Street where he would later attend class at the Henry Street Playhouse and also start his company. He was one out of five children and his mother died when he was eight years old. He was then sent to an orphanage until he was twelve. At this time his sister Ethel, who was studying dance at the time, took him to many modern dance concerts. He graduated from Samuel Tildon High School in 1944.

Louis was discharged from the Navy in 1946 and began to live in San Francisco, California. He then enrolled at Colorado College for a summer session conducted by Hanya Holm in 1949. It was there during one of their workshops where he met Alwin Nikolais, who would later become his mentor and lifelong partner. That year he moved back to New York to pursue a Dramatic Arts degree at New York University and attend class with Nikolais at Henry Street Playhouse. Louis made his debut as the lead soloist in Nikolais’ newly formed Playhouse Dance Company (which would late be renamed the Nikolais Dance Theater).

Louis was chosen as Associate Director to Nikolais and together they created the Nikolais/Louis dance technique, which would become a major influence to dance and still exist to this day. Louis founded his own company in 1968 known as the Murray Louis Dance Company. His company was then chosen to represent the U.S. State Department on a two-month tour of India in 1968. In 1972 he piloted the “Artist in School” program. He also created two works for Rudolph Nureyev to debut on Broadway in 1978. Louis additionally worked in television in the United States and Europe. In 1984 the Murray Louis Dance Company collaborated with the Dave Brubeck Quartet and had four very successful seasons, which were broadcasted in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Some of his choreographed works include Pulcinello for Batsheva Dance Company for Israeli television and The Tales of Cri-Cri for Mexico City television. In July 1987 PBS televised Nik and Murray, an award winning documentary film by Christian Blackwood, in their American Masters series. The Princeton Book Publishing Company released a video called Murray Louis in Concert, a collection of solos in 1989.

Louis also had his collection of essays, Inside Dance, published by St. Martin’s Press and released a five-part film series, Dance as an Art Form, which is now used as an introduction series for Educational Arts programs in the United States. A Cappella Books published his second book of essays, On Dance. Louis’s and Nikolais’ dance companies merged in 1989. On May 8, 1993 Louis’s most influential mentor and partner, Alwin Nikolais, died. Louis did not dance for 2 years after Nikolais’ death. In 1995 his company performed at Carnegie Hall for 10,000 children during their “LINK” program and in 1996 he completed a five-part video series titled, The World of Alwin Nikolais.

Louis had many accomplishments and received copious amounts of awards, recognitions, and honorary degrees. He received the Dance magazine award in 1977, which was presented to him by his former dance instructor Hanya Holm. He also received a Thank You letter from Harry Truman, the Colorado Contemporary Dance Award, two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Scripps/American Dance Festival award (June 18, 2006). In 1998, he was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for a “distinguished lecture” tour of twelve universities and colleges in the United States. Louis received his first Honorary Degree from Indiana University in 1970, his Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from Ohio University in 1999, his second Honorary Degree from Rutgers University in 2000, and his third Honorary Degree from Boston Conservatory in 2004. In 1998 Louis started assembling his archives and they are now available at the Ohio University’s Vernon R. Alden Library in Athens, Ohio. He has created over 100 works (including 70 ballets), performed in 20 nations and every state of the United States, and has toured five continents. He is one of the few choreographers to dance in his own creations and a variety of composers have produced music for him and his performances. He has also choreographed to the music of Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, and many others. Some of the companies he has choreographed dances for include: The Royal Danish Ballet, The Jose Limon Company, The Hamburg Opera Ballet, The Scottish Ballet, The Berlin Opera Ballet, and The Cleveland Ballet.

Louis speaking of his choreography once said, “I don’t have a style. I come out of dance itself. I operate the principles of dance the way I talk. I get a point of view. Each piece has its own identity. It’s what choreography is all about.”

Murray Louis continues to live and work in New York City, New York.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Louis

Further Readings:

The Nikolais/Louis Dance Technique: A Philosophy and Method of Modern Dance by Murray Louis & Alwin Nikolais
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Routledge; Pap/DVD edition (January 18, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0415970202
ISBN-13: 978-0415970204
Amazon: The Nikolais/Louis Dance Technique: A Philosophy and Method of Modern Dance

The Nikolais/Louis Dance Technique provides the definite resource for understanding and practicing the influential dance technique developed by two pioneers of modern dance, Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis. The Nikolais/Louis technique is presented in a week-to-week classroom manual, providing an indispensable tool for teachers and students of this widely studied movement practice. Theoretical background for further reading is set off from the manual for those interested in deeper study. Their philosophy and methodology span a broad readership and offer an important addition to dance literature and American cultural history.

Inside Dance by Murray Louis
Publisher: St Martins Pr (December 1981)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312418728
ISBN-13: 978-0312418724
Amazon: Inside Dance

Murray Louis on Dance by Murray Louis
Hardcover: 164 pages
Publisher: A Cappella Books; 1st edition, edition (June 1992)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1556521472
ISBN-13: 978-1556521478
Amazon: Murray Louis on Dance

More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance

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Tags: dancer: alwin nikolais, dancer: murray louis, gay classics, real life romance

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