“Nikolais’s students, his company dancers, and his creative colleagues are
deeply grateful for his generous giving of his vision and his artistry — to us
and to the world. We thank Nik for being our teacher, guide, and inspiration.”

—Ruth E. Grauert

Site Search:

search tips   sitemap

Bearnstow Journal offers articles on the Nikolais esthetic and the arts.  Editor Ruth Grauert worked for Alwin Nikolais for forty years.  She has created lighting designs for many dancers in that discipline.  A published poet and essayist, Ms. Grauert is the executive director of Bearnstow, an arts and nature summer place in Mt. Vernon, Maine.

Bearnstow Journal is published by Bearnstow, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation.  The site’s development and maintenance are dependent on your tax-deductible contributions.  You may contribute online though PayPal (PayPal membership not required); click PayPal button on the right. Or mail checks to Bearnstow, 83 Sanford Place, Jersey City, NJ 07307.

Do you shop online at Amazon.com? Bearnstow is registered in Amazon’s Smile Program and will receive a small donation every time
you buy an eligible product from Amazon. Please go to http://smile.amazon.com and specify Bearnstow as your charity after you log in.

Featured Work: Tensile Involvement (“Web”)

Photo by Tom Caravaglia, ca. 1974  (click photo to enlarge)

“Web” originally premiered at the Henry Street Settlement Playhouse on February 13, 1955, as part of the concert titled “Village of Whispers.” On De­cember 10, 1955, it was integrated into Masks, Props and Mobiles and later reworked as a full company dance titled Tensile Involvement. It was performed on the “Steve Allen Show” on May 17, 1959.

It remained in the repertory for many years, becoming one of Nikolais’s signature pieces. It often opened the evening’s concert (see photo of the 1969 moon-landing performance in Baalbeck, Lebanon).

Tensile Involvement is currently in the repertory of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company and can be viewed below.

Jena Woodbury, Executive Director,

Daniel Charon, Artistic Director,

Alberto del Saz, Co-Artistic Director of the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance, is responsible for the recon­struction of all Nikolais works for the company.

See also a performance of Tensile Involvement by the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theater at the 1987 Kennedy Center Honors gala.

See previously featured
Historical images and videos.
  Click in control bar for full screen, Esc to return.  Allow time for video to preload.

News and Announcements

From the Horse’s Mouth Celebrates Murray Louis
May 03, 2015 at Henry Street Playhouse

From the Horse’s Mouth celebrates Murray Louis, dancer, choreographer, teacher, mentor, and overall force of nature, who with Alwin Nikolais helped to shape the heart and history of dance at the Henry Street Settlement. Twenty-five outstanding dancers, choreographers, critics, and friends will share their stories of Murray. Abrons Art Center

In Memoriam — Luise Wykell, 1942–2014

Luise H. Wykell, dancer, teacher, choreographer and devoted supporter of the performing arts, passed away on December 27, 2014, after a year-long battle with cancer. See her memorial page.

She is pictured here at the March 2003 reunion of Nikolais-Louis alumni to celebrate the life of Frankie Garcia and commemorate the tenth anniversary of Nikolais’s death.
New Journal Article

After visiting Joan Woodbury and the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company in Utah last spring, the German Tanz magazine editor Arnd Wesemann, already fascinated with the Nikolais heritage, reviewed that heritage and its impact from a European viewpoint. We thank Joan Woodbury for sending us the article and are pleased to have it translated for Bearnstow Journal by Emma Lewis Thomas. See Alwin Nikolais, by Arnd Wesemann, Tanz magazine, July 2014.

In Memoriam: Beverly Schmidt Blossom
August 28, 1926–November 1, 2014

We are saddened to learn of the death of Beverly Blossom on Saturday, November 1, from cancer. The funeral service was held on Friday, November 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the Michalik Funeral Home in Chicago.

Nikolais alumni and friends are invited to offer condolences to her son, Michael Blossom. See Beverly’s Memorial Web Page. Tributes and remembrances may be sent to Jim at Bearnstow. A memoral gathering to honor Beverly is being planned in New York in fall 2015.

See the following obituaries:

Bearnstow Announces Its Faculty and Workshops for Summer 2015

Ruth Grauert

Véronique MacKenzie

Molly Hess

Peter Kyle

Scott Giguere

Robin Gilmore

Lauren Kelly-Washington

Claire Porter

Susan Buirge

K.J. Holmes

Bearnstow on Parker Pond annouces the Summer 2015 roster of programs. See complete list of activites.

July 29–10 (two weeks, weekdays): Molly Hess: “Day Camp for Children of School Age”


Luigi, Dance Magazine
Award recipeint

Journal Articles

Alwin NIkolias and Ruth Grauert in a lighting rehearsal for Vaudeville of the Elements at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in 1965
Photo by Eric Sutherland
  1. Essays on the art of Alwin Nikolais, by Ruth E. Grauert, comprise Volume I.  Included are Nikolais’ use of light, sound, properties, and motion; a comparison between Nikolais and the Bauhaus; and a brief historic overview and current thought on stage lighting and dance.  Go to the Index of Volume I articles.

  2. Essays on Mary Wigman:  Volume II of Bearnstow Journal includes: Wigman’s own article on her early experience with Rudolph von Laban, Susan Buirge’s interview with Hanya Holm about Hanya’s early experiences at the Wigman School, Joan Woobury’s and Beverly Blossom’s accounts of their school year with Wigman in Berlin, reprints of Joan Woodbury’s 1956 articles on Wigman from Dance Observer, notes from Peggy Chambers, Julie Hamilton Pleus, and John Wilson, and finally excerpts from Mary Wigman’s letters to Joan Woodbury from 1957 to 1970.

  3. A Dance Course Curriculum by Dale Thompson.  Dale Thompson (NDT 1978–1983) has developed a sixteen-week dance curriculum, which also includes a comprehensive reading list.  Click for more information and downloading links.

The Chatterbox

Read the e-mail discussion forum of former Nikolais/Louis dancers, students, and technical staff members.

Special Links on This Site

You may submit articles, contributions to The Chatterbox, and poetry for inclusion on this site by e-mail to Ruth Grauert.  Please include a short biography and any other information you may consider pertinent.

This Web site (BearnstowJournal.org) is designed and maintained by Jim Van Abbema, who was associated as sound engineer, stage manager, and technical director for the Nikolais and Louis companies from 1968 to 1975.  He is currently a Webmaster and copy editor.  For questions about this Web site or exploring the possibility of designing or renovating your own site, e-mail Jim.

Tandy Beal, Mimi Garrard, Kathy Kroll, Phyllis Lamhut, Sheila Mason, Helen Kent Nicoll, Gerald Otte, Audrey Ross, and Joan Woodbury have helped us maintain Bearnstow Journal over the past year.

All images and written material on Bearnstow Journal are copyrighted. Reproduction of any item from this site is prohibited without prior written permission from Bearnstow.

See also the Nikolais/Louis Alumni Facebook page.