“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.




From left to right: Beverly Blossom, Murray Louis, and Bill Frank (click to enlarge)

Photo courtesy of the Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries

Photo of “Capes”—the finale of Kaleidoscope (premiered at the Henry Street Settlement Playhouse, 1956). “Capes” was originally part of Masks, Props & Mobiles (1953). Leotards made from crinkle knit worn for other dances in Kaleidoscope (see more images in The Theater of Alwin Nikolais by Ruth Grauert on this site) were actually painted on the dancers by the prominent Greek-American artist George Constant.

Gladys Bailin Stern recalls:

“The cape fabric was some kind of jersey, somewhat stretchable to achieve the shapes Nik wanted to see. There were figures behind the seated ones, also holding the capes and standing on boxes. It appears that the capes were attached under the armpit and held by hand at one end, also held taut by the feet to get the tension. I'm sure we did other moves with the capes, but the one in the photo makes for elegant grandeur.”

See previously featured Historical Photos.




News and Announcements




© Erie Times-News

In Memoriam: Tom Caravaglia
April 10, 1922–July 10, 2014

Tom Caravaglia, long-time photographer for the Nikolais Dance Theater and the Murray Louis Dance Company—and a much-revered photographer by the dance community, died on Thursday, July 10, after a long illness. “We have lost a great human being and the best photographer we have known. His eye for the time to click the shutter was truly miraculous.” —Ruth Grauert

A memorial page with photos of Tom’s work is under preparation. A celebration of Tom’s life is being planned for the fall.




In Memoriam: Mary Anthony
November 11, 1916–May 31, 2014

In 1985, Jennifer Dunning called her “one of the city's most highly respected modern dance teachers.” New York City’s great dance legend, Mary Anthony, passed away at age 97 on Saturday, May 31.

See memorial and remembrances.


Bearnstow Faculty and Workshops 2014


Ruth Grauert

Véronique MacKenzie

Peter Kyle

Scott Giguere

Robin Gilmore

Susan Creitz

Bebe Miller

Claire Porter

Gerald Otte

K.J. Holmes

Bearnstow on Parker Pond annouces the Summer 2014 roster of dance and natural history programs.

See 2014 Programs for complete list of activities.










Bearnstow offers discounted fees for Nikolais/Louis alumni
(includes all dancers and staff)
  • $975 for 13 days for the Grauert-MacKenzie workshop, June 29–July 12 (regular tuition $1215)
  • $550 for 6 days for the Peter Kyle workshop, July 13–19; or the Susan Creitz workshop, July 20–26 (regular tuition $675)
  • Tuition includes all classes, housing and meals, and recrea­tion facilities (hiking, swimming, boating, horseback riding, and great discussions with like-minded colleagues).


In Memoriam ~ Dorothy Vislocky

Founding member of the Nikolais Dance Theater, Professor Emerita
at Hunter College, and renowned and cherished member of the dance
community, Dorothy Vislocky, died on Saturday, October 26, 2013.

See tributes and remembrances.

Photo: “Paraphernalia” from Masks, Props and Mobiles II, 1955. Courtesy of the
Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection, Mahn Center for Archives and
Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries



Resident Artists Perform at End of Bearnstow Summer Season

On August 30 participants in Bearntow’s Young Artist Residency Program performed at the Union Hall in nearby Vienna, Maine. The works were developed from the summer dance workshops, taught by Robin Gilmore, Ruth Grauert, K.J. Holmes, Peter Kyle, Véronique MacKenzie, Lynn Needle, Claire Porter, and Dorothy Vislocky.

Pictured left is a scene from Fireflies (2012), reconstructed for this performance by Nicole Garlando and performed by Karina Culloton, Adam Kerbel, Heriberto Mendoza, and Cristina Woehlert; design by Ruth Grauert. Download program (PDF).



Most Recent Reviews


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.