Nikolaiss 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
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 sites 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. See also Bearnstow Journal on facebook.
From left to right: Jack Spencer, Sheldon Ossosky (as the Donkey), Ruth Grauert, and Al Sernka; Phyllis Lamhut is just out of view in this photo. (Click to enlarge)
Photo courtesy of the Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries
The Fable of the Donkey, after the Aesop tale, was written and produced during the summer of 1948 by Nikolais where he was working under Hanya Holm in Colorado. He reproduced it at the Henry Street Playhouse for the 1948 Christmas/Chanukah celebration. It is this production that is pictured here. It was perhaps the first dance that Nikolais presented at the Playhouse. The Fable remained in the Playhouse Dance Company repertory for many years.
Fable was followed by such varied productions as The Lobster Quadrille (from Lewis Carrolls Alices Adventures in Wonderland) in 1949, and numerous original works in the 1950s: Indian Sun, St. George and the Dragon, Tale of the Winds, and Merry-Go-Elsewhere.
See previously featured Historical Photos.
News and Announcements
Photo: Benois Centre, Moscow
It is an honor to welcome Carolyn Carlson to the Bearnstow workshop staff. After graduating from the University of Utah, Carolyn came to New York City on the advice of Joan Woodbury to join the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theater with which she toured the world, receiving the Première Danseuse award for her performances in Paris in 1968. She emigrated to France and served as choreographer for the Paris Opera Ballet (19741980). During the ensuing years she has served as dancer, teacher and artistic director for many venues in Europe including the Teatro La Fenice (Venice), Theatre de la Ville (Paris), Helsinki City Theatre and the Finnish National Ballet, the Cullberg Ballet (Stockholm). The Venice Biennale, and the Alteliers de Paris and Calais. Carolyn will be at Bearnstow August 1016, 2014. Please see The Dancer-Artist — Poet of Time-Space.
Founding member of the Nikolais Dance Theater, Professor Emerita
at Hunter College, and renowned and cherished member of the dance
community, Dorothy Vislocky, died on Saturday, October 26, 2013.
See tributes and remembrances.
Photo: “Paraphernalia” from Masks, Props and Mobiles II, 1955. Courtesy of the
Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection, Mahn Center for Archives and
Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries
Bearnstow interns performed works developed from the summer dance workshops, taught by Robin Gilmore, Ruth Grauert, K.J. Holmes, Peter Kyle, Véronique MacKenzie, Lynn Needle, Claire Porter, and Dorothy Vislocky.
Pictured left is a scene from Fireflies (2012), reconstructed for this performance by Nicole Garlando and performed by Karina Culloton, Adam Kerbel, Heriberto Mendoza, and Cristina Woehlert; design by Ruth Grauert.
The performance was held in the Union Hall in nearby Vienna, Maine, on August 30. Download program (PDF).
Most Recent Reviews
- New Chamber Ballet: 2013 Season Program 2, New York City Center Studio 5, November 22 and 23; review by Laura Rime
- The Bennington School of the Dance, Compiled and edited by Elizabeth McPherson3, 2013; review by Ruth Grauert
- Invisible River An Aerial Dance by Alie Vidich, Strawberry Mansion Bridge, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, June 23, 2013; review by Virginia Dillon
- A Dancers Journey: It All Began with a Lie The Biography of Mary Anthony, by Mary Price Boday; review by Ruth Grauert
On June 14, the 2013 Balasaraswati/ Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching Award was presented to celebrated educator and mentor Phyllis Lamhut by Duke University for her incredible contribution to dance education. The Chair was established in 1991 and recognizes the dual role of teachers in passing on dance history and tradition and in guaranteeing the future creativity of the art form.
Phyllis Lamhut with Nikolais, Louis, and Lamhut company
members at the American Dance Festival award ceremony
From left to right: Robert Small, Donald Blumenfeld, Helen Kent Nicoll, Natasha Simon, Phyllis Lamhut, Alberto Del Saz, and Dianne Markham
On Saturday, May 18, Ruth received an honorary doctorate from Centenary College in Hacketstown, New Jersey. Ruth graduated from Centenary Academy (then a preparatory school for girls) in 1935. This past March, she returned to Centenary (after 78 years!) to give a lecture on lighting (see below).
Photo by Jimmy Glenn, Centenary College
Dr. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, President of Centenary College, made the following introduction:
Ruth E. Grauert, would you please join me to receive your honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree?
In her acceptance speech, Ruth paid tribute to her teachers at Centenary:
We are already proud to call Ruth an alumna, as she graduated from Centenary Academy in 1935. Over her 70-plus years in the dance world, she has worked as a performer, teacher and mentor. Today she is still active as a lecturer, choreographer and lighting designer for contemporary dance. Among the many highlights of her career, she spent 40 years working for multimedia artist Alwin Nikolais and has created lighting designs for many artists in that discipline. She also worked as a stage director for Murray Louis, a lighting designer and stage manager for Phyllis Lamhut and others, and has written numerous articles on dance, dance history and dance lighting. She is a founder and director of Bearnstow, a summer arts retreat in Maine.
When Ruth and I were robing in the Front Parlours, she said somethingand she said I could share it with you. Ruth looked around and said that everything had changed since she was a student, except for two couches. And she said, And don't get rid of those couches. I did a lot of courtin and sparkin on them! [Laugh from the audience]
It is my honor, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of Centenary College, to confer upon you, Ruth E. Grauert, the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.
I do indeed thank you for honoring me. In turn, I feel I must acknowledge those teachers of Centenary Academy in the 1930s who laid the foundation for my professional life: Mrs. Olive Herring, who made it possible for me to study various dance techniques instead of volley ball or tennis; Miss Couch, who taught public speaking, technical theater and acting; and Dr. Louise Omwake, my life-long friend, who taught me to think clearly and to write succinctly. These are the tools of my profession for which you honor me, and for which, in all humility, I must honor them.
Louise Omwake Eckerson is the author of Voyage of the Invader, the story of a schooner voyage in the summer of 1941 from California to Hawaii. The story was first published in 2008 here on Bearnstow Journal.
Above: Ruth Grauert lectures for dance and theater students at Centenary College.
Right: Centenary students pose with Ruth onstage after the lighting lecture.
After graduating from Centenary Academy in 1935 (then a preparatory school for girls in Hackettstown, New Jersey), Ruth returned 78 years later to Centenary College (now a four-year coeducational baccalaureate-degree and masters-degree institution) to give a lecture on lighting for dance. On Monday, March 4, she presented Using Light to Serve Choreography to some 2030 students and faculty from Centenarys dance and theater departments. Ruth lectured in the campuss Little Theaterthe same theater where she took acting and speech classes in the early 30s. Her students were enthusiastic and actively took part in the demonstrations. After the lecture, Ruth was presented with a letter of invitation to receive an honorary doctorate at Centenarys May graduation ceremonies.
Former Bearnstow interns with Ruth Grauert: Karla Koyazo, Leticia Bravo (friend of Adriana), Adriana León, Ruth Grauert and Verónica Guarneros pose before the distant Volcán de Colima.
Former Bearntow interns with Ruth Grauert: Karla Koyazo, Alejandro Vera, Ruth Grauert, Adriana León, Liliana López (friend of Adriana) and Verónica Guarneros beside in a park outside Colima
I flew into Guadalajara, was met by Emmanuel Beccera (Beanstow intern for two seasons), and then bussed to Colima. There, Nitzia Vieyra (four-season intern) took me to the Fobos Studio, where I stayed in their guest room complete with kitchen. The next day, Adriana León (two-season intern at Bearnstow) and her husband, Alex (one-season intern), and Karla and Vero (both Bearnstow interns) with their friends took me on an outing near Colimas volcano.
In the course of my stay, I audited classes at the university (Graham technique, ballet, Limón technique), watched a rehearsal of a work by Alex and Adriana, audited ballet and folkloric classes in studios in town. (Colima must have more dance per capita than any other city of its size.) I also visited two festivals with Alex and Adriana in nearby towns. (Mexico goes in for festivals!) The first was to select Queen for the Year. Alex's cousin won the title amidst mad cheering of the crowd. The second was a folk dance festival that included a folk company friendly with Fobos. They did alright with their Mexican folkloric, but one group presented the hula. I turned away and watched a group of men fly from their 100-foot pole around and around. Much better!
I saw a rehearsal and the premiere of this seasons Ballet Folklórico de México (see review). And finally, I had a folkloric music concert just for me in the Fobus studio on my last night. Happy stuff.
Observed from the bus on my leaving: the Colima volcano sending a farewell plume into the sky.
Peter Kyle writes:
Members of the FoBos Dance Company on the stage of the Teatro Hidalgo, Colima, Mexico: (from left to right standing) Felipe Muñóz Saldaña, Mary López, Katya Ursúa, Nitzia Vieyra, Paola Saucillo, Peter Kyle, Fernando Rabell, Fredy Torres; (seated center) Italo Ortíz
Photo: Omar Rojas
FoBos, a project of the larger Casa de las Artes Proyecto Ensamble, invited me to participate as the first international artist in their festival, the Encuentro de Danza Contemporánea: Frontera Occidente (Contemporary Dance Festival: Western Frontiers), in Colima. I was in Colima from December 5 to 9, and while there I performed my new evening-length solo, 100 DAYS in the theater at Casa de las Artes, followed by a Q & A,, which Nitzia Viera moderated beautifully. On the following night I performed Frail Demons in the beautiful and historic (19th century) Teatro Hidalgo, a tiered, European-style opera house in the center of Colima. FoBos performed a work of their own by Artistic Director Henrry Tema to round out the program. In addition, I taught two master classes to the FoBos company as well as other dancers from the Colima community, including students in the dance department at the University of Colima. On my last night there, I participated in a roundtable discussion with three other artists: Vivian Cruz (a dance-film artist from Mexico City, a former dancer with Ultima Vez, Wim Vandekeybuss company in Beligium), Henrry Tema, and Adriana León (a professor from the University of Colima Dance Department and former teacher to nearly all the dancers involved in the FoBos/Casa de las Artes organization.
Peter returns to Bearnstow next summer, July 1420, to conduct his workshop, Slow Tempo.
Nitzia Vieyra has been an intern at Bearnstow for four years. She is a graduate in dance from the University of Colima, Mexico, where she is has been teaching as well as performing with the FoBos company. She will return to Bearnstow with members of FoBos August 2531 where the company will perform at Bearnstow and in the immediate area. The company is available for additional performances September 17.
From Janis Brenner and Dancers We were saddened by the loss of the great artist and humanitarian Dave Brubeck. As most of you may know by now, the jazz giant passed away on Wednesday, December 5th, just shy of his 92nd birthday. We mention this not only to acknowledge Daves passing, but to express a personal side to this recent news. Janis had the life-altering experience and honor of working, playing and touring with the Dave Brubeck Quartet as a member of the Murray Louis Dance Company in the mid-1980s. Almost thirty years after the February 1984 City Center premiere of Four Brubeck Pieces (program on the left), the Juilliard Dance Division, in collaboration with the Jazz Division, will revive and premiere the 2013 version of the work. After an exciting year of putting all the components together between Murray Louis, Alberto del Saz (Co-Artistic Director of Nikolais/Louis and restager of the work), Larry Rhodes (Director of Dance at Juilliard), Russell Gloyd (devoted, long-time manager, arranger and conductor for Brubeck), Dave and Iola Brubeck, and Carl Allen (Director of Jazz at Juilliard), Janiss dream was to see Murray and Dave reunited after 23 years, taking a bow together on opening night, April 3, 2013, at the Peter J. Sharp Theater. Now the April 37 performances will not only honor the genius of Murray Louiss and Dave Brubecks dynamic collaboration but will also serve as a tribute to Daves legacy. A heartfelt toast to Brubecks glorious life, music and family.
Dancer, choreographer, author, Rutgers University Professor Emerita of Dance,
died on August 7, 2012.
See tributes and remembrances.
Photo by Norman Ader
(A Life in the Span of Dance)
A new book Susan Buirge (in French)
From her childhood in Minneapolis with her first dances in front of her grandfather, to her arrival on the coast of the Japan Sea in 2008, passing through the Juilliard School, the 1968 autumn in California, her arrival in Paris in 1970 where she began working in dance institutions, this book traces the itinerary of Susan Buirge. The choreographer revisits fifty years of contemporary dance, from the school of Alwin Nikolais in New York to her discovery of kagura, the traditional Japanese dances of the countryside, as well as her life as an artist and as a woman. See excerpt translated by Virginia Dillon.
Former Nikolais Student Martha Howe Dies at 84 in Vermont
We learned of the death of Martha Howe Gogel on August 11, 2011. She studied with Alwin Nikolais at the Henry Street Playhouse in 1949, and is pictured in photos on the Histortical Photos page. She was the cofounder of Lands Sake, an organization whose mission is to connect people to the land. See obituary.
In Memoriam ~ Annelise Mertz, 19182011
Professor Emerita, Performing Arts Department, Washington Univerity, St. Louis, Annelise Mertz was a celebrated teacher, performer, choreographer, and champion for the arts. See obituary and memorial service tribute.
The Alwin Nikolais Centennial Alumni Concerts
The Nikolais Centennial Alumni Concerts, produced by Bearnstow, were held at Hunter College in New York City on December 3 and 4, 2010. See slide show of photos and program.
The Nikolais Centennial Souvenir Booklet, created especially for the Alumni Concerts held at Hunter College in New York City on December 3 and 4, 2010, is offered post-paid for $10 (or $7.60 for Nikolais-Louis alumni). The Booklet contains previously unpublished pictures of Nik at work, plus photos and bios of the concert participants. Purchase it online.
Décor for Dance Ruth Grauerts Art Featured at Ursinus Exhibition
Composite photograph for Art of Motion, Coppelia, childrens production, 2008
On June, 2010, the artwork of Ruth Grauert was on display in the Alumni Weekend Art Exhibition at her alma mater, Ursinus College. Viewers were treated to a slideshow of cyclorama projections Ruth has created for dances she has designed. The images have been made a permanent part of the Berman Museum of Art collection on the college campus. See a review of Ruths exhibit by Virginia (Laidlaw) Dillon and an online version of the slide show: Décor for Dance.
Alwin Nikokais Centennial Celebration, 19102010
See photos of From the Horses Mouth: Remembering Nik, held at the Henry Street Settlement Playhouse (Abrons Art Center) on April 30, 2010. Slide show photos by Lynn Lesniak and links to photos by Joe Zina.
Ten Days in Japan Ruth Grauert Visits Susan Buirge
In December 2009, Ruth visited long-time Nikolais alum Susan Buirge in Japan, where Susan is now studying the choregraphic process of Kagura. See Ruths report and photos: Ten Days in Japan.
Report from the Field Suzy McDermaid Fridell and The Magnum Force
Suzy McDermaid Fridell (Nikolais 6978) reports on her annual production number for the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction. See The Magnum Force.
The Conference on the Nikolais Aesthetic
Held at Bearnstow in Mount Vernon, Maine, in August 2009, the Conference on the Nikolais Aesthetic brought together a wide range of Nikolais alums to explore various aspects of his teaching and to share their experiences with Nik. See more on the Conference.
Alwin NIkolias and Ruth Grauert in a lighting rehearsal for Vaudeville of the Elements at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in 1965
- 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.
- Essays on Mary Wigman: Volume II of Bearnstow Journal includes: Wigmans own article on her early experience with Rudolph von Laban, Susan Buirges interview with Hanya Holm about Hanyas early experiences at the Wigman School, Joan Wooburys and Beverly Blossoms accounts of their school year with Wigman in Berlin, reprints of Joan Woodburys 1956 articles on Wigman from Dance Observer, notes from Peggy Chambers, Julie Hamilton Pleus, and John Wilson, and finally excerpts from Mary Wigmans letters to Joan Woodbury from 1957 to 1970.
- A Dance Course Curriculum by Dale Thompson. Dale Thompson (NDT 19781983) has developed a sixteen-week dance curriculum, which also includes a comprehensive reading list. Click for more information and downloading links.
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.
Mimi Garrard, Claudia Gitelman, Kathy Kroll, Phyllis Lamhut, Sheila Mason, Helen Kent Nicoll, Gerald Otte, and Joan Woodbury have helped us maintain the Bearnstow Journal over this 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.