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Interview with Alwin Nikolais

Nikolais discusses the aesthetic totality (of movement, sound, light, and costume) which he seeks in his work; his dance school at the Henry Street Settlement House; his dance Sanctum (the electronic music for it is played as Nikolais describes the action); his composition of electronic music; the use of improvisation in his dance compositions and its place in his school's courses; the "neo-classic" modern dance tradition to which his work belongs. More music from Sanctum is played. Nikolais then discusses the rhythmic structure of his music.

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  • "Nikolais discusses the aesthetic totality (of movement, sound, light, and costume) which he seeks in his work; his dance school at the Henry Street Settlement House; his dance Sanctum (the electronic music for it is played as Nikolais describes the action); his composition of electronic music; the use of improvisation in his dance compositions and its place in his school's courses; the "neo-classic" modern dance tradition to which his work belongs. More music from Sanctum is played. Nikolais then discusses the rhythmic structure of his music."@en
  • "Disc 1 (ca. 58 min.). [Begins abruptly.] Alwin Nikolais speaks with Don McDonagh about some of his early works including Choreography for Sabine women, Choreography for the world we live in, and Eight column line, including the sponsorship of the arts patron, Chick [Arthur Everett] Austin; his work The jazzy "20s"; his work Kaleidoscope, including its significance in his artistic development; his work Extrados; the various problems he encountered at the Henry Street Settlement including its poor physical condition and the administration's less than whole-hearted approval of Nikolais' programs; his scores, including the reasons he created his own; performing on tour, including adapting to stages of various sizes; the critical response to his work in Europe; performing his work Tent on tour; his childhood exposure to theater and vaudeville; his first venture into lighting design, including his homemade dimming device; his military service during World War II; his filming of his work for documentary purposes; when he uses plans or sketches, for example when filming for television; how he creates a sound tape; reasons he stopped choreographing dances with stories and specific characters and archetypes; critics and their reviews including Billy [Phyllis Winifred] Manchester, Margaret Lloyd, and H.T. Parker; Nikolais' impatience with critics who review his work solely as dance [ends abruptly]."
  • "[Begins abruptly.] Alwin Nikolais speaks with Elinor Rogosin about the ideas underlying his multimedia productions, including the lighting and music; his break with Freudian concepts; the artist as an illusionist; his company [Nikolais Dance Theatre], including its extensive foreign tours;"
  • "Nikolais speaks about his first exposure to dance at age 20; seeing Mary Wigman dance and meeting Truda Kaschmann; studying with Kaschmann; choreographing his first professional ballet; attending the summer dance program at Bennington College; meeting Hanya Holm; military experience during World War II; studying with Holm and teaching at her school; becoming the director of the dance program at the Henry Street Settlement; working as Holm's assistant in 1949; meeting Murray Louis; Louis's coming to work at the Henry Street Settlement."
  • "Nikolais speaks about establishing a semi-professional division of young dancers at the Henry Street Settlement; his emphasis on creativity; the influence of his wartime experiences on his work; his redefining of dance as an abstract art of motion; touring with the young dancers' division under the name Nikolais Dance Theatre; growing national reputation of the group; his work Kaleidoscope; appearances on the Steve Allen Show; the productivity of this period; his emphasis on the visual, abstract aspects of dance; innovative use of lighting; of electronic music; the popularity of his productions. Nikolais speaks about leaving the Henry Street Playhouse; views on the current state of modern dance; pride in having had the opportunity to develop his own definition of dance."
  • "Side A only. Mr. Nikolais reminisces about Fred Berk's contributions to the early 1950's modern dance movement; discusses Berk's early choreography; the importance of the journal Dance Observer to modern dance in the 1950's; New York City venues for dance concerts during this time; the lack of specialised dance writers during this period; dance in the United States during World War II."@en
  • "Disc 2 (ca.23 min.). Alwin Nikolais speaks with Don McDonagh about those of his works he particularly likes; creating work for television, including his first works, for the Steve Allen Show; technical innovations he introduced when filming for television and the resistance he encountered; his work for A time to dance [the Ford Foundation television series on WGBH-TV]; a portmanteau work he created for [the textile corporation] Spring Mills incorporating Pucci designs; future projects including a collaboration with Buckminster Fuller and a selection of his scores for a record to be released by Columbia Records."
  • "Alwin Nikolais discusses his choreography and his concept of total theater; the origin of dance performance and its evolution from god-worship to audience-focused; the relationship of his work to his own life; his personal history leading to his career as a dancer and choreographer including his childhood music education, as well as his studies with Franziskaa Boas and teachers at Bennington; the influence of Mary Wigman on his career; his work with Truda Kaschmann; his work for Hanya Holm and The Henry Street Playhouse after World War II; the evolution of his own separate dance company; the demand for multimedia art and new thoughts about time and space in post-WWII society; and Nikolais' current (1979) projects."@en
  • "Introduction indicates this is part 2 of The listening room for this date. Alwin Nikolais discusses his company Nikolais Dance Theatre, touring demands and his creative process; an excerpt from his work Scenario is played and discussed; he contrasts his works Scenario and Tribe; an excerpt from his work Foreplay is played and discussed; Nikolais explains his selection of dance titles; another excerpt from Foreplay is played. (Short news break.) Nikolais discusses the company's programs for upcoming performances; his choreographic aesthetic and choice of music; an excerpt from his work Cross-fade is played; his work for television, Relay; an excerpt from his work Tribe is played and discussed. (Short news break.) Another excerpt from Tribe is played (continued on side 2); Nikolais discusses his school and staff of teachers; closing remarks and announcements."
  • "Alwin Nikolais discusses his theory of dance - light, sound, and motion; his impressions of Mary Wigman; how he begins to choreograph a work and creates music; nudity in his television work The relay."@en

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  • "History"
  • "Interviews"@en
  • "Interviews"

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  • "Interview with Alwin Nikolais [sound recording]"
  • "Interview with Alwin Nikolais"
  • "Interview with Alwin Nikolais"@en