28 Facts About Alwin Nikolais


Alwin Nikolais was an American choreographer, dancer, composer, musician, teacher.


Alwin Nikolais had created the Nikolais Dance Theatre, and was best known for his self-designed innovative costume, lighting and production design.


Alwin Nikolais was born on November 25,1910 in Southington, Connecticut.


Alwin Nikolais studied piano at an early age and began his performing career as an organist accompanying silent films.


Alwin Nikolais 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 1939, in collaboration with Truda Kaschmann, his first modern dance teacher, Alwin Nikolais received a commission to create Eight Column Line, his first ballet.


Alwin Nikolais relocated to New York City following the war and resumed studying with Hanya Holm.


In 1949, Alwin Nikolais was appointed as co-director of the Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, alongside Betty Young.


Alwin Nikolais formed the Playhouse Dance Company, which was later renamed and known as the Nikolais Dance Theatre.


Alwin Nikolais redefined dance, as "the art of motion which, left on its own merits, becomes the message as well as the medium".


Alwin Nikolais was renowned as a master teacher, and his pedagogy is taught in schools and universities throughout the world.


Alwin Nikolais died of cancer May 8,1993, in New York and is buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


Alwin Nikolais employed lights, slides, electronic music, and stage props to create environments through which dancers moved and, more important, into which they blended.


Alwin Nikolais avoided overused themes like psychosexuality, good vs evil, or heroes and heroines.


Alwin Nikolais preferred to develop his own style of movement, and not to replicate the moves of previous time periods or other composers.


Alwin Nikolais expanded the use of music in dance from being mainly a way of marking time or adding emotional value to create new sounds to add to his new theatrical environments.


Alwin Nikolais was the first customer for the newly developed Moog synthesizer in 1964.


Alwin Nikolais characterized his stage presentations as "decentralizing" the dancer, so that humans were only one of the theatrical elements on stage.


Alwin Nikolais prefers it for practical reasons, viewing the muscular and tactile functions of bare feet as essential to the total body.


Alwin Nikolais placed great emphasis on sensory experience, through which a dancer's dynamic action is conveyed to the audience.


Alwin Nikolais emphasized that perception of one area can be emphasized by deliberately blocking out consciousness in other unwanted areas.


Alwin Nikolais used lighting extensively, directing light from multiple directions and levels and using it to create shape, space, and silhouettes.


Alwin Nikolais returned to his early work as a musical composer to design his own score for his new dance, using electronic tape.


Alwin Nikolais received high regards from New York State Council on the Arts, Hofstra University, Rutgers University, Duke University, Hunter College, and Brigham Young University.


Alwin Nikolais was known amongst colleagues and peers as shy and reserved.


Alwin Nikolais allowed his partner Murray Louis to deal with more public affairs, preferring to focus on his school and theatre.


Alwin Nikolais was renowned as a master teacher, and his pedagogy is taught in schools and universities throughout the world.


In 1987, Alwin Nikolais was awarded the National Medal of Arts, bestowed by President Ronald Reagan, and the Kennedy Center Honors, conferred during a three-day round of official Washington events, which culminated in a CBS telecast featuring the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theater.