Sanctum - Imago
As soon as the curtain rose on the Prologue of Sanctum at the Henry Street Playhouse last night, it was obvious that Alwin Nikolais, the creator of the work, had not run out of ideas for dance‐theater effects.
The floor was full of dancers lying flat on their faces. Above them on a swinging trapeze bar was Murray Louis, hanging head down.
This was just the beginning of a full‐length work of 10 dances. Sanctum, like Imago, Mr. Nikolais's full‐length work of last year, could be described, therefore, as a suite of dances, even of what happens does not always look like dancing as it is commonly envisioned.
In his tireless search for novel pictorial effects, Mr. Nikolais has found some of the most complex and stunning color lighting combinations this reviewer has ever seen on the stage.
As always with Mr. Nikolais's productions, he is responsible for almost everything in Sanctum—the electronic sound score, the choreography, the lighting and the training of all the performers. It represents a formidable accomplishment.
Source : ALLEN HUGHES, FEB. 21, 1964, The New York Times
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
Murray Louis is known throughout the world not only as one of the great male dancers, but also as a uniquely gifted choreographer, teacher and eloquent spokesman
for the art of dance. Mr. Louis’ reputation as a master of the language of dance grew as he developed an eclectic, poetic, and skillfully articulate choreographic style. He has created over 100 works, toured five continents, and performed in every state in the United States of America.
Born in Brooklyn in 1926, Murray Louis grew up in Manhattan, not far from Henry Street where his company was to be founded years later. At the same time, his sister took him to many of the early modern dance concerts. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, Mr. Louis, then a San Francisco resident, turned his attention to dance. He enrolled in Colorado College’s summer session conducted by Hanya Holm. It was there that he met Alwin Nikolais, who would become the single most important influence on his career. Mr. Louis returned to New York in 1949. While earning a Dramatic Arts degree at New York University, Louis attended class with Mr. Nikolais at Henry Street Playhouse. That same year, Mr. Louis made his debut as lead soloist in Mr. Nikolais’ newly formed Playhouse Dance Company (later renamed the Nikolais Dance Theater).
In 1951, Mr. Louis was appointed Associate Director to Mr. Nikolais, and became a driving force in the evolution of the aesthetic and pedagogic theory, which today is known as the Nikolais/Louis technique. The Murray Louis Dance Company was founded in 1953.
Source : Foundation Nikolaïs Louis 's website
More information : nikolaislouis.org
Sanctum - Imago