Mechanical Organ was created in 1980 to improvised music by David Darling under the direction of Alwin Nikolais.
Source: The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance
More information: www.nikolaislouis.org
Alwin Nikolaïs was born in 1910 in Southington, Connecticut. He 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 illustrious 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 Mr. Nikolais received a commission to create « Eight Column Line », his first ballet. In 1948, Mr. Nikolais was appointed director of the Henry Street Playhouse, where he formed the Playhouse Dance Company, later renamed and known as the Nikolais Dance Theatre. It was at Henry Street that Mr. Nikolais began to develop his own world of abstract dance theatre, portraying man as part of a total environment. His unique choreographic works placed him in a realm previously untouched by other choreographers. Mr. Nikolais redefined dance, as “the art of motion which, left on its own merits, becomes the message as well as the medium.“
While developing his choreography, Mr. Nikolais' lifelong interest in music led him to create his own scores. Choreographer, composer, scenic and costume designer, has blended his many talents into a single aesthetic force. In a career that has spanned five decades, he has left his imprint on every theatrical medium, from Broadway to television. Whenever there is something new, his hand is evident. His lighting wonders, his sound scores, his choreography, and his costumes have influenced the contemporary stage and a generation of choreographers. Mr. Nikolais is the creator of the internationally acclaimed Nikolais Dance Theater and the genius responsible for dozens of visual masterpieces. As a uniquely original exponent of American contemporary dance he toured throughout Europe and subsequent tours to South America and the Far East. Mr. Nikolais is renowned as a master teacher, and his pedagogy is taught in schools and universities throughout the world. He passed away May 8, 1993 and is buried in Pere La Chaisse cemetery in Paris.
Source: Nikolais/Louis Foundation for dance Inc.
More information: nikolaislouis.org
Author, filmmaker and video artist Charles Picq (1952-2012) entered working life in the 70s through theatre and photography. A- fter resuming his studies (Maîtrise de Linguistique - Lyon ii, Maîtrise des sciences et Techniques de la Communication - grenoble iii), he then focused on video, first in the field of fine arts at the espace Lyonnais d'art Contemporain (ELAC) and with the group « Frigo », and then in dance.
On creation of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon in 1980, he was asked to undertake a video documentation project that he has continued ever since. During the ‘80s, a decade marked in France by the explosion of contemporary dance and the development of video, he met numerous artists such as andy Degroat, Dominique Bagouet, Carolyn Carlson, régine Chopinot, susanne Linke, Joëlle Bouvier and regis Obadia, Michel Kelemenis. He worked in the creative field with installations and on-stage video, as well as in television with recorded shows, entertainment and documentaries.
His work with Dominique Bagouet (80-90) was a unique encounter. He documents his creativity, assisting with Le Crawl de Lucien and co-directing with his films Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux and 10 anges. in the 90s he became director of video development for the Maison de la Danse and worked, with the support of guy Darmet and his team, in the growing space of theatre video through several initiatives:
- He founded a video library of dance films with free public access. This was a first for France. Continuing the video documentation of theatre performances, he organised their management and storage.
- He promoted the creation of a video-bar and projection room, both dedicated to welcoming school pupils.
- He started «présentations de saisons» in pictures.
- He oversaw the DVD publication of Le tour du monde en 80 danses, a pocket video library produced by the Maison de la Danse for the educational sector.
- He launched the series “scènes d'écran” for television and online. He undertook the video library's digital conversion and created Numeridanse.
His main documentaries are: enchaînement, Planète Bagouet, Montpellier le saut de l'ange, Carolyn Carlson, a woman of many faces, grand ecart, Mama africa, C'est pas facile, Lyon, le pas de deux d'une ville, Le Défilé, Un rêve de cirque.
He has also produced theatre films: Song, Vu d'ici (Carolyn Carlson), Tant Mieux, Tant Mieux, 10 anges, Necesito and So schnell, (Dominique Bagouet), Im bade wannen, Flut and Wandelung (Susanne Linke), Le Cabaret Latin (Karine Saporta), La danse du temps (Régine Chopinot), Nuit Blanche (Abou Lagraa), Le Témoin (Claude Brumachon), Corps est graphique (Käfig), Seule et WMD (Françoise et Dominique Dupuy), La Veillée des abysses (James Thiérrée), Agwa (Mourad Merzouki), Fuenteovejuna (Antonio Gades), Blue Lady revistied (Carolyn Carlson).
Source: Maison de la Danse de Lyon
The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for dance
Shortly afterwards Murray joined him, initially performing in Nikolais' newly formed Playhouse Dance Company. He later served as its leading man for 20 years. Nik and Murray remained colleagues and collaborators until Nikolais' death in 1993. The dance program at the Henry Street Playhouse began with classes for adults and shortly enlarged its enrollment with classes for children as well. By the mid-1950s, the school and performances had increased considerably. The adult division now had a notable dance curriculum and active Dance Company that toured and performed in the school
After 20 years of remarkable creativity and development at the Playhouse, the organization moved to midtown Manhattan and became the Nikolais/Louis Foundation. The Foundation included the Nikolais Dance Theater, The Murray Louis Dance Company, The School and Chimerafilm (an audio-visual adjunct). With Nikolais' death in 1993, the Foundation combined the dance companies and in 1999, phased them out, in favor of working with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.
The School continues as a series of intensive workshops throughout the U.S. Bringing the school to different areas of the country was more reasonable than bringing regional students to New York.
The Nikolais/Louis tradition represents a seminal force in American modern dance. For more than fifty years it has set an example of the highest pedagogical integrity and has influenced innumerable participants in the profession. It has always represented the art in its most contemporary style and continues to be a leader through its integrity as a creative force in modern dance. It is the mission of the foundation to continue this tradition for the next generation of dance innovators.
Mr. Nikolais, an inimitable visionary, choreographed and created the sound scores and scenic designs for over 100 magical productions. Mr. Louis, one of the great male dancers of our time, choreographs masterworks distinguished by fluid elegance and insightful wit. The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance honors and perpetuates the innovations in theatrical production and dance technique that Nikolais and Louis introduced, many of which are now standards in the field.
Currently, the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance in collaboration with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company tours an exciting program, highlighting the mastery of both Murray Louis’ and Alwin Nikolais’ choreography with a troupe of ten skilled dancers. Their performances this past year took them on several tours of Europe as well as performance residencies across the United States. The 2005 performances will celebrate the 57th year of groundbreaking dance theater performances and the ongoing Nikolais/Louis tradition that began at The Henry Street Playhouse.
Alberto del Saz, has been with the foundation for 37 years.
Source: The Nikolais/Louis Foundation
More information: www.nikolaislouis.org
Choreography : Alwin Nikolais
Original music : David Darling, Alwin Nikolais
Production / Coproduction of the video work : Maison de la Danse de Lyon - Charles Picq, 1983