“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

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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.

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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

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.


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.