“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 by credit card; specify the amount in the blank field and click the Donate button on the right. Or if you wish to donate by check, please complete the contribution form here.

See also the Nikolais/Louis Alumni on Facebook.

Bearnstow is registered in Amazon’s Smile Program and receives a small donation every time you buy an eligible product. Log in with this easy-to-rememer link: http://bearnstow.org/amazon.

The Murray Louis Dance Company — Proximities

From left to right: Robert Small, Marcia Wardell, Leslie Ditson, Anne McCleod, Helen Kent, and Michael Ballard in Proximities, 1969. (Click to enlarge)

Image scanned from a 10" x 21" poster that had been inadvertently discarded and found outdoors after a period of time exposed to the elements; photographer unknown.

See previously featured Historical Photos.

Proximities (originally titled The Plea­sures of Proximities) premiered on January 30, 1969, at the Henry Street Play­house. Accompanied by Brahms’ Ser­enade No. 2 in A, the work was said to be a Valentine present Murray gave to his company. It soon became core rep­ertory and was performed widely on tour. Proximi­ties was among the first of Louis group pieces to be mounted on another dance company, given to Entre-Six of Montreal in 1978.

News and Announcements

Founder and Director Ruth Grauert Names Peter Kyle
as Associate Director and Successor for Bearnstow

Ruth Grauert

Peter Kyle

On October 17, 2017, Ruth made this announcement:

“After long consideration I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Peter Kyle as Associate Director and my successor for Bearnstow. He is the best qualified to carry on the aesthetic and the mission of Bearnstow, and he has accepted my invitation with great enthusiasm. Peter has told me how honored he is by this opportunity and how much he looks forward to working with the Bearnstow board of directors, staff and larger community in ensuring Bearnstow thrives long into the future.

“For those of you who may not know Peter, he has been working professionally in dance for the past 27 years. His work is far reaching, and he has a strong foundation in the Nikolais aesthetic. He brings outstanding creative vision, re­sourcefulness and profes­sionalism to all that he does. He is Artistic Director of Peter Kyle Dance, longtime faculty member at Bard College and Marymount Manhattan College, and has been a part of Bearnstow’s faculty since 2009. You may read more about him by visiting peterkyledance.org or bearnstow.org/kyle.htm.”  —Reg/Ruth

As Associate Director Peter will become a much more familiar face around camp as he joins Ruth to assist in making policy and admini­strative decisions. We wish him a hearty welcome! And those who know Ruth know she has no plans for stepping down anytime soon. At 98 she is still going strong!

Bearnstow Announces its Summer 2018 Faculty and Workshops
Bearnstow on Parker Pond, Mount Vernon, Maine

Ruth Grauert & Véronique MacKenzie

Peter Kyle & Scott Giguere

Sara Pearson & Patrik Widrig

K.J. Holmes

Claire Porter

Lauren Kelly-Washington & Judi Jones

Robin Gilmore

Kareli Montoya & Jonathan Trejo

Summer 2019 workshops. See complete list of activities.

“War and I”

An essay by Ruth Grauert

“War had involved me while I was in utero,” says Ruth. In this time-expansive 1996 essay
Ruth reflects upon the impact war has had on her life.

In Memoriam: Murray Louis
November 4, 1926–February 1, 2016

On February 1st at 4:30 a.m. the world lost one of America's dance icons. His spirit, wisdom and artistry will forever live in our hearts. See Muray Louis Memorial page. See also Bearnstow’s Memorial Celebration for Murray Louis, held Wednesday, June 29, 2016, at the Mount Vernon Community Center, Mount Vernon, Maine.

In recognition of Murray Louis’s monumental career and collection of works, Bearnstow Journal has published Ruth Gruaert’s On Murray Louis—an insightful analysis of his dances over the years, following his thematic thread from the “little man” to “everyman.” The article was compiled from notes taken in the early 1980s at the request of Alwin Nikolais, who was working on a biography of Murray.

Bearnstow Journal is pleased to publish the recent article by UCLA dance professor emerita and noted dance historian Emma Lewis Thomas: “My Mary: Personal Reminiscences of Learning from Wigman,” The article is the latest addition to our Wigman Heritage section.

Emma Lew Thomas studied with Mary Wigman in Berlin from 1954 to 1959, dancing in her major works, including Wigman’s Rite of Spring. While in Berlin she befriended Joan Woodbury, who also studied with Wigman, 1955–1956. She appears frequently in photos of Wigman's works; see the slide show at “An Addendum—Emma Lewis Thomas” by Joan Woodbury.

Modern dancer Emma Lewis Thomas has been teaching Dance History at UCLA since 1971. She began ballet in Charleston, WV with Caroline Petty; later professional training and performance in Berlin with Mary Wigman led to a career in historic dance research and performance (1972–96) of Renaissance and Baroque scores. Thomas continued to teach and perform modern dance works, often with dancers related to the Alwin Nikolais/Murray Louis companies—U.S. artists credited with perpetuating the legacy of Wigman dance teachings in America. Collaborating with Andrzej Wirth, founder of the Giessener Schule, Thomas focused on movement for actors in theatrical works of Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller, and Robert Wilson. She continues to lecture and write, currently advising and raising funds for contemporary dance, music, and theater groups in California.


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.

  4. A review of the Nikolais heritage and its impact from a Euro­pean viewpoint. See Alwin Nikolais, by Arnd Wesemann, origi­nally published in Tanz magazine, July 2014; translated into English by Emma Lew Thomas.

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, reviews of performances, 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 a 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.