“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. Bookmark the link http://smile.amazon.com/ch/01-0271792 and support us every time you shop.

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).

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

See previously featured Historical images and videos.

News and Announcements

Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur

Member of the early Nikolais Dance Theater to receive highest French honor

The President of France has nominated Susan Buirge to the rank of Chevalier (Knight) in the National Order of the Legion of Honor—the highest distinction of France.

The nomination was proposed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in particular for the work she has done to further Franco-Japanese relations.

In October, an official ceremony will be held at the French Embassy in Tokyo where the Chevalier insignia (image right) will be presented by the Ambassa­dor. The ceremony will be followed by a reception for some 50 invited guests in the garden of the Embassy.

Susan Buirge will teach a Composition Workshop: Ancient Kagura and Contemporary Choreo­graphy at Bearnstow this summer, August 9–15.

A Tribute to the Legacy of Alwin Nikolais
Held at the Abrons Arts Center (the Henry Street Playhouse), on Friday, June 12, 2015

Nikolais alumni dancers perform Tensile Involvement for the finale of the Alwin Nikolais tribute. Performed by James Murphy, Timothy Harling, Trista Redavid DeFilippis, Kim Gibilisco, Lynn Lesniak Needle, Peter Kyle, Elizabeth Higgins, Kay Andersen, Donna Scro Samori and Alberto del Saz ~ Photo by Maria Volpe

From the Horse’s Mouth Celebration of Murray Louis

From the Horse’s Mouth celebrated Murray Louis on May 3, 2015. Twenty-five outstanding dancers, choreographers, critics, and friends shared their stories of Murray. Tito passed along congratulaitons to all:


I can’t not thank you enough for yesterday’s display of LOVE, respect and admiration for our dear Murray. I know that he was genuinely touched and as you all witnessed, very emotional and teary at times, which is a quality that he rarely likes to display in public.

The abundance of incredible talent that was displayed on that stage was a manifestation of what a treasure each one of us is. Every soul in that theater audience felt that Nik and Murray are imprinted in our DNA and are very much the fabric of our lives.

For all of you that came from near and far once again thank you so much for your generosity, beauty, artistry, professionalism and selflessness. I love you dearly and I will for ever be grateful to each one of you.

Yours always,
Tito, Alberto del Saz

     Many more photos can be found on the Nikolais/Louis Alumni Facebook page.

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.

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”


Hollow, choreographed and designed by Gerald Otte at Hunter College ~ Photo: Sabrina Polanco-Ferreyra

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.