News & Notes

News and activities of Nikolais/Louis company members and students.
Send us your updates and special memories.


A Celebration of the Life and Artistry of Murray Louis
Held January 22, 2017
Abrons Art Center, Henry Street Playhouse
466 Grand Street, New York City





A Memorial Celebration for Murray Louis
Sponsored by Bearnstow, was held on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at the Mount Vernon Community Center, Mount Vernon, Maine ~ See video and photos of the event.





In Memoriam — Murray Louis
November 4, 1926–February 1, 2016
See memorial events and tributes



Murray Louis Receives The Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award, November 30, 2015



Click arrow to begin video.
Murray was unable to attend, but his spirit was present as Bebe Miller enu­merated his many accomplishments and creative endeavors, first in asso­ciation with the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theater and then his own, the Murray Louis Dance Company.

The award was gra­ciously accepted on his behalf by Alberto Del Saz who of­fered a personal message from Louis with whom he had visited earlier that day.

Lest anyone forget Murray’s amazing grace and fluidity and delightful style, a video was shown of him dancing ex­cerpts from his own choreography.



Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur

Member of the early Nikolais Dance Theater
received highest French honor on December 2, 2015.

The President of France nominated Susan Buirge to the rank of Chevalier (Knight) in the National Order of the Legion of Honor—the highest distinction of France. The nomination was proposed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in particular for the work she has done to further Franco-Japanese relations.

On December 2, an official ceremony was held at the French Embassy in Tokyo where the Chevalier insignia was presented by the Ambassador. The ceremony was followed by a reception for invited guests in the garden of the Embassy.

Susan Buirge taught Composition Workshop: Ancient Kagura and Contemporary Choreo­graphy at Bearnstow, August 9–15, 2015.




Ambassador Thierry Dana bestows the insignia of the chevalier of the Legion of Honor on Susan Buirge.


Susan and husband Jiro enjoy the musical interlude at the reception.
Susan reflects upon the evernt.

A moving moment. Surprising of an unexpected emotion.

Followed by the festivities in the lounges of the Residence of the Ambassador.

So many friends coming from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea, Kyoto, Kobe, Kyushu, Shimane, and Tokyo.

Glasses of champagne, the laughter, the photographs.

The musical surprise of a composition for the occasion by a composer friend, for piano and violin—entitled “If…” A music so beautiful that the desire to dance invades me.

The musicians play again.

And there, medal pinned on the heart, shoes removed, standing upright while remaining in one spot in the corner of a large carpet I danced, again, one last time…





Beverly Blossom in 1999 in
"The Incom­plete Lament of an Old Dancer"
Photo by Beatriz Schiller
The Beverly Blossom Memorial Gala
Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
695 Park Ave, New York, New York
Sunday, November 1, 2015

With guest artists from around the country, the Memorial Gala is a tribute to Beverly Blossom on the anniversary of her passing. Blossom’s best work will be shown on this program. Solo artists Douglas Nielsen and Betsy Fisher will perform Losing You and Blossom’s signature solo Dad’s Ties, respectively. Dancers from the University of Illinois will perform her group work Brides. Ella & Mark Magruder, former company members of Beverly Blossom, dance her earliest work Black Traveler as well as the gender-bending Besame Mucho and the poignant Last Bow. Henning Rübsam recreates Shards, a poetic solo Blossom first performed in homage to her late mentor Alwin Nikolais. Former fellow Nikolais dancer Christine Reisner will join Rübsam in Fan Dance, both danced when members of Blossom’s company.

Lighting design by Philip Treviño in collaboration with Blossom's long-time collaborator Ruth Grauert.

For a review of the evening and additional photos, see
     IMPRESSIONS OF: The Beverly Blossom Memorial Gala by Christine Jowers, The Dance Enthusiast, November 3, 2015



University of Illinois dance students in performance of Brides at the Beverly Blossom Memorial Gala
on November 1 at Hunter College in New York City ~ Photo by Costas



Kinetic Cinema

Videos by Mimi Garrard and her mentors

Alwin Nikolais and James Seawright

Friday, July 3, 7:30 p.m., Bearnstow Main Hall
84 Bearnstow Road, Mount Vernon, Maine
(admission free)

Mimi Garrard assembled works on video from 1964 to 2014, which span her prolific career as a dancer with the legendary Alwin Nikolais, as a choreogra­pher, and later as a video artist. The program also features the work of Alwin Nikolais and James Seawright. It includes work created out­doors and in the studio, in color and black and white, from pure movement to theater. This video collection was presented at Pentacle in New York City on December 11, 2014 and at Bearnstow on July 3, 2015. See Kinetic Cinema.



A Tribute to the Legacy of Alwin Nikolais
Held at the Abrons Arts Center (the Henry Street Playhouse), on Friday, June 12, 2015



Nikolais alumni dancers perform Tensile Involvement for the finale of the Alwin Nikolais tribute. Performed by James Murphy, Timothy Harling, Trista Redavid DeFilippis, Kim Gibilisco, Lynn Lesniak Needle, Peter Kyle, Elizabeth Higgins, Kay Andersen, Donna Scro Samori and Alberto del Saz ~ Photo by Maria Volpe



From the Horse’s Mouth Celebration of Murray Louis

From the Horse’s Mouth celebrated Murray Louis on May 3, 2015. Twenty-five outstanding dancers, choreographers, critics, and friends shared their stories of Murray. Tito passed along congratulaitons to all:

Dear DOLLS!

I can’t not thank you enough for yesterday’s display of LOVE, respect and admiration for our dear Murray. I know that he was genuinely touched and as you all witnessed, very emotional and teary at times, which is a quality that he rarely likes to display in public.

The abundance of incredible talent that was displayed on that stage was a manifestation of what a treasure each one of us is. Every soul in that theater audience felt that Nik and Murray are imprinted in our DNA and are very much the fabric of our lives.

For all of you that came from near and far once again thank you so much for your generosity, beauty, artistry, professionalism and selflessness. I love you dearly and I will for ever be grateful to each one of you.

Yours always,
Tito, Alberto del Saz





     Many more photos can be found on the Nikolais/Louis Alumni Facebook page.




Ruth Grauert Mounts Shapes and Shadows
on Centenary College Students


On April 1, 2015, Shapes and Shadows was performed by student dancers on the campus of Centenary College. See Modern Dance Icon Ruth Grauert Sets Original Work on Centenary Theater Students




In Memoriam — Luise Wykell, 1942–2014

Luise H. Wykell, dancer, teacher, choreographer and devoted supporter of the performing arts, passed away on December 27, 2014, after a year-long battle with cancer. See her memorial page.

She is pictured here at the March 2003 reunion of Nikolais-Louis alumni to celebrate the life of Frankie Garcia and commemorate the tenth anniversary of Nikolais’s death.





© Arthur Fink

The Life of Phyllis Lamhut Celebrated by From the Horse's Mouth

Saturday, November 8, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Tisch School of the Arts/Dance, New York City

In celebration of her work as dancer, choreographer, teacher, mentor, and overall force in the dance community, From the Horse’s Mouth dedicated its theater/dance event to Phyllis Lamhut in collaboration with Tisch Dance. Proceeds will benefit The Phyllis Lamhut Tisch Dance Scholarship Fund.





In Memoriam: Beverly Schmidt Blossom
August 28, 1926–November 1, 2014

We are saddened to learn of the death of Beverly Blossom on Saturday, November 1, from cancer. The funeral service was held on Friday, November 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the Michalik Funeral Home in Chicago.

Nikolais alumni and friends are invited to offer condolences to her son, Michael Blossom. See Beverly’s Memorial Web Page. Tributes and remembrances may be sent to Jim at Bearnstow. A memoral gathering to honor Beverly is being planned in New York in fall 2015.



Bearnstow Salutes its Resident Artists!



Almanac Dance Circus Theatre: Claire Healy, Martita Abril, Nick Gillette, Molly Hess, Adam Kerbel, Evelyn Lang­ley, Alyssa Kennamer, Emmanuel Becerra, and Ben Grin­berg (click photo to enlarge)
Four Bearnstow Resident Artists per­formed with the Almanac Dance Cir­cus Theatre in Phil­adelphia on Octo­ber 23 to present Har­vest: New Works from Maine, Mexico, and Beyond.  Bearnstow’s Resi­dent Artists in­cluded Adam Kerbel, Evelyn Lang­ley, Em­manuel Becerra, and Ben Grin­berg. Bearn­stow’s Day Camp instruc­tor Molly Hess saw the performance and joined the photo.

Bearnstow’s Young Artist Residency Program is designed to give young dancers a summer of total contact with professional dance instruction and to give Bearn­stow a cadre of capable assistants who help maintain the opera­tion of the camp. Dur­ing the course, our young artists have designed pro­grams and promotional ma­terial, conducted re­search, composed sound scores, choreo­graphed their own works, and created dance videos. In every sense of the word this ten-week dance in­ten­sive is a graduate-level course in contemporary dance.






© 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

See memorial page with a description of Tom’s funeral Mass and photos of his work. A celebration of Tom’s life was held on September 14 at the Paul Taylor Studios.






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.



From Centenary College’s Centenarian, Summer 2014



The Birthday Party, March 2014

Photos by Diane Belverio

My party on March 22nd was two days before I turned 95. My nieces—Amy, Diane and Ruth—hosted it after a grand niece, Arianne, had cleaned the house. It was Diane, the family baker, who made the cake. Of course, there was a house full of relatives since my sister had four children and they have followed suit with their own. The youngest “great grand” is still a babe in arms.

My longest and oldest friend, Mary Hyde Saunders, who was two years behind me at college, came by public transportation from Long Island. At 94 (verging on 95, birthday on April 1), she did very well until the bus driver let her out at the wrong bus stop. But being “hep” (as we used to say back then), she got on her cell phone and was easily rescued.

And dancers—Phyllis Lamhut, from the Henry Street Playhouse days in 1948, was the longest relation in that category. There were many from the Nikolais Dance Theater, some of whom I have not seen in years (old road tour roommates Lynn Levine and Fred Timm) were such a happy surprise. And some folks went to great lengths to get here. That really is an honor! Tom Caravaglia and wife Doris (the Nikolais dance photographer who hosted my 80th party in their studio) were able to come because Jim Van Abbema and Gerald Otte borrowed a car to get them here. Dancer friend Virginia Dillon, from Philadelphia, enticed a friend with a car to bring her. Mimi Garrard and Jimmy Seawright hired a limo and driver to get them here from upstate New York. And Peter Koletzke (who happened to be in the area on business) appeared and was technically the one who had come the longest distance, all the way from California. (And also from California came several bottles of wine, compliments of Suzy McDermaid Fridell and husband Squire from their vineyard.)

And a number of folks who are “Bearnstow”—Claire Porter, K.J. Holmes, Terry Conlon and more—came, some before party time because of other commitments. (I won’t try to list you all, lest I miss someone, but I have a fairly complete a list below.) Lynn Needle and others from Art of Motion helped to make a noisy, congenial group. Each and everyone there made for the great time had by all.

But after all this I ask, What IS 95? What’s new?
—Ruth / Reg

Just some of the group: (facing forward) Mimi Garrard, Millie Parker, Alfredo Rico, Lynn Levine, and Terry Conlon
Birthday Celebration Participants

Family members included: Amelia, Amy, Arianne, Cedric, Diane, Fred, Heather, Jason, Jenn, Jolene, Keira, Kellie, Larry, Laura, Linna, Little Mike, Matt and Christian, Mike, Millie, Rob, Roy, Ruth, and Sarah.

All the others (key to abbreviations below):  Irving Burton (HSP, Paperbag Players), Tom and Doris Caravaglia (NDT), Ruby and Nick de Chellis (Sanford Place neighbors), Terry Conlon (B) , Virginia Dillon (HSP), Mary Therese Duffy (B), Debbie Faria (1983 tenant), Olivia Galgano (AOM), K.J. Holmes (BW), Peter Koletzke (MLDC), Phyllis Lamhut (HSP, NDT, MLDC, PLDC), Lynn Needle (NDT, AOM), Gerald Otte (NDT, BB), Claire Porter (BW), Mary Hyde Saunders (Ursinus College 1941), Linn and Peter Schlaffer (B), Mimi Garrard and Jim Seawright (HSP), Robert Small (MLDC), Fred Timm (NDT), Jim Van Abbema (NDT, MLDC, BB), and Gary Wittner (B)

Abbreviations:  NDT = Nikolais Dance Theater, MLDC = Murray Louis Dance Company, HSP = Henry Street Playhouse, PLDC = Phyllis Lamhut Dance Company, AOM = Art of Motion (Lynn Needle’s dance company and school), B = Bearnstow associated (past camper or workshop attendee), BB = Bearnstow Board, BW = Bearnstow Workshop Instructor

We gratefully acknowledge those who contributed to
the Bearnstow Scholarship Fund in honor of Ruth’s 95th birthday.

Maryann Archard, Gladys Bailin Stern, Sarah Beers, Madonna Belanger Wasco, Linda Combs, Jan Connor, Susie Creitz, Virginia Dillon, Janet Erickson Bird, Kathy Gaedje, Ruth Gibbs, Andrea Kaufman, Peter Koletzke, Phyllis Lamhut, Sarah Lougee, Suzy McDermaid Fridell, Shiela Mason, Gerald Otte, Nicholaus Pekar, Claire Porter, Christine Reisner, Barbara Risen Gottschalk, Pat Rosenberg, Linn Schlaifer, Jim and Mimi Seawright, Gloria Smith, Amy Spears; Jeanette Stoner, Fred Timm, and Joan Woodbury




Joan Woodbury Honored among the
Fifteen Most Influential Artists in Utah


On Friday, February 21, Utah Arts & Museums hosted Utah’s 15: The State’s Most Influential Artists at the Rio Gallery in Salt Lake City. This exhibit is a culmination of the “Utah’s 15” project that began a year ago when the public was asked to nominate artists they believe have influenced the landscape of Utah art and culture.

Joan Woodbury, long-time friend of the Nikolais-Louis family, and co-founder with Shirley Ririe of the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, can be seen in the second row center of the banner. The Ririe-Woodbury Company has mounted and toured many Nikolais works. (Click image to enlarge.)



Sara Shelton Mann Awarded a “Goldie” in San Francisco

Described as “An iconoclast who has performed to great acclaim and inspired others for decades,” Sara Shelton Mann (Nikolais and Louis companies 1966–1972) has been awarded the San Francisco Dance Film Fesival Lifetime Achievement Award, a “Goldie” (= Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery Award).

The San Francisco Bay Guardian, in a special issue, is celebrating nine emerging Bay Area artists and groups who are producing exciting, intelligent, provacative work.

See Goldies 2014 Lifetime Achievement: Sara Shelton Mann (02/18/2014)




In Memoriam: Dorothy Vislocky
February 16, 1927–October 26, 2013

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 2013 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).



Rain at Bearnstow Washes Out Bridge


View of flooded path and parking lot from Main Hall

     On the afternoon of Friday, August 9, as the Claire Porter Workshop was preparing for the evening showing of the week's dances, the skies opened up over the Bearnstow camp in Mount Vernon, Maine. The normally peaceful Daniel’s Brook that laces the stretch of forest between the parking lot and the camp’s buildings became a torrent, washing out the log bridge over the brook.

     An extension ladder covered with planks was set in place to serve as a temporary bridge, enabling a few devoted dance afficionados to make their way over the water to Bearnstow’s Maine Hall for the evening’s performance.



Phyllis Lamhut Receives Distinguished Teaching Award

Phyllis Lamhut with Nikolais, Louis, and Lamhut company
members at the American Dance Festival award ceremony

From left to right: Robert Small, Donald Blumenfeld, Helen Kent Nicoll, Natasha Simon, Phyllis Lamhut, Alberto Del Saz, and Dianne Markham

On June 14, the 2013 Balasaraswati/ Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching Award was presented to celebrated educator and mentor Phyllis Lamhut by Duke University for her incredible contribution to dance education. The Chair was established in 1991 and recognizes the dual role of teachers in passing on dance history and tradition and in guaranteeing the future creativity of the art form.



See the video 80 Faces: Eighty Years.
Eighty Stories
on YouTube.



Ruth Grauert Receives Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters


Photo by Jimmy Glenn, Centenary College
On Saturday, May 18, Ruth received an honorary doctorate from Centenary College in Hacketstown, New Jersey. Ruth graduated from Centenary Academy (then a preparatory school for girls) in 1935. This past March, she returned to Centenary (after 78 years!) to give a lecture on lighting (see below).

Dr. Barbara-Jayne Lewthwaite, President of Centenary College, made the following introduction:

Ruth E. Grauert, would you please join me to receive your honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree?

     We are already proud to call Ruth an alumna, as she graduated from Centenary Academy in 1935. Over her 70-plus years in the dance world, she has worked as a performer, teacher and mentor. Today she is still active as a lecturer, choreographer and lighting designer for contemporary dance. Among the many highlights of her career, she spent 40 years working for multimedia artist Alwin Nikolais and has created lighting designs for many artists in that discipline. She also worked as a stage director for Murray Louis, a lighting designer and stage manager for Phyllis Lamhut and others, and has written numerous articles on dance, dance history and dance lighting. She is a founder and director of Bearnstow, a summer arts retreat in Maine.

     When Ruth and I were robing in the Front Parlours, she said something—and she said I could share it with you. Ruth looked around and said that everything had changed since she was a student, except for two couches. And she said, “And don't get rid of those couches. I did a lot of courtin’ and sparkin’ on them!”  [Laugh from the audience]

     It is my honor, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of Centenary College, to confer upon you, Ruth E. Grauert, the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.
In her acceptance speech, Ruth paid tribute to her teachers at Centenary:
I do indeed thank you for honoring me. In turn, I feel I must acknowledge those teachers of Centenary Academy in the 1930s who laid the foundation for my professional life: Mrs. Olive Herring, who made it possible for me to study various dance techniques instead of volley ball or tennis; Miss Couch, who taught public speaking, technical theater and acting; and Dr. Louise Omwake, my life-long friend, who taught me to think clearly and to write succinctly. These are the tools of my profession for which you honor me, and for which, in all humility, I must honor them.
Louise Omwake Eckerson is the author of Voyage of the Invader, the story of a schooner voyage in the summer of 1941 from California to Hawaii. The story was first published in 2008 here on Bearnstow Journal.





Above: Ruth Grauert lectures for dance and theater students at Centenary College.

Right: Centenary students pose with Ruth onstage after the lighting lecture.
Ruth Returns to Centenary after 78 Years

After graduating from Centenary Academy in 1935 (then a preparatory school for girls in Hackettstown, New Jersey), Ruth returned 78 years later to Centenary College (now a four-year coeducational baccalaureate-degree and masters-degree institution) to give a lecture on lighting for dance. On Monday, March 4, she presented “Using Light to Serve Choreography” to some 20–30 students and faculty from Centenary’s dance and theater departments. Ruth lectured in the campus’s “Little Theater”—the same theater where she took acting and speech classes in the early 30s. Her students were enthusiastic and actively took part in the demonstrations. After the lecture, Ruth was presented with a letter of invitation to receive an honorary doctorate at Centenary’s May graduation ceremonies.





Former Bearnstow interns with Ruth Grauert: Karla Koyazo, Leticia Bravo (friend of Adriana), Adriana León, Ruth Grauert and Verónica Guarneros pose before the distant Volcán de Colima.


Former Bearntow interns with Ruth Grauert: Karla Koyazo, Alejandro Vera, Ruth Grauert, Adriana León, Liliana López (friend of Adriana) and Verónica Guarneros beside a lake in a park outside Colima
Ruth Visits Colima, Mexico,
January 17–31, 2013


     I flew into Guadalajara, was met by Emmanuel Beccera (Beanstow intern for two seasons), and then bussed to Colima. There, Nitzia Vieyra (four-season intern) took me to the Fobos Studio, where I stayed in their guest room complete with kitchen. The next day, Adriana León (two-season intern at Bearnstow) and her husband, Alex (one-season intern), and Karla and Vero (both Bearnstow interns) with their friends took me on an outing near Colima’s volcano.

     In the course of my stay, I audited classes at the university (Graham technique, ballet, Limón technique), watched a rehearsal of a work by Alex and Adriana, audited ballet and folkloric classes in studios in town. (Colima must have more dance per capita than any other city of its size.) I also visited two festivals with Alex and Adriana in nearby towns. (Mexico goes in for festivals!) The first was to select “Queen for the Year.” Alex's cousin won the title amidst mad cheering of the crowd. The second was a folk dance festival that included a folk company friendly with Fobos. They did alright with their Mexican folkloric, but one group presented the hula. I turned away and watched a group of men fly from their 100-foot pole around and around. Much better!

     I saw a rehearsal and the premiere of this season’s Ballet Folklórico de México (see review). And finally, I had a folkloric music concert just for me in the Fobus studio on my last night. Happy stuff.

     Observed from the bus on my leaving: the Colima volcano sending a farewell plume into the sky.



Bearnstow Dancers Perform in Mexico, December 2012



Members of the FoBos Dance Company on the stage of the Teatro Hidalgo, Colima, Mexico: (from left to right standing) Felipe Muñóz Saldaña, Mary López, Katya Ursúa, Nitzia Vieyra, Paola Saucillo, Peter Kyle, Fernando Rabell, Fredy Torres; seated center, Italo Ortíz

Photo: Omar Rojas
Peter Kyle writes:

     “FoBos, a project of the larger Casa de las Artes Proyecto Ensamble, invited me to participate as the first international artist in their festival, the Encuentro de Danza Contemporánea: Frontera Occidente (Contemporary Dance Festival: Western Frontiers), in Colima. I was in Colima from December 5 to 9, and while there I performed my new evening-length solo, 100 DAYS in the theater at Casa de las Artes, followed by a Q & A,, which Nitzia Viera moderated beautifully. On the following night I performed Frail Demons in the beautiful and historic (19th century) Teatro Hidalgo, a tiered, European-style opera house in the center of Colima. FoBos performed a work of their own by Artistic Director Henrry Tema to round out the program. In addition, I taught two master classes to the FoBos company as well as other dancers from the Colima community, including students in the dance department at the University of Colima. On my last night there, I participated in a roundtable discussion with three other artists: Vivian Cruz (a dance-film artist from Mexico City, a former dancer with Ultima Vez, Wim Vandekeybus’s company in Beligium), Henrry Tema, and Adriana León (a professor from the University of Colima Dance Department and former teacher to nearly all the dancers involved in the FoBos/Casa de las Artes organization.”

Peter returns to Bearnstow next summer, July 14–20, to conduct his workshop, Slow Tempo.

Nitzia Vieyra has been an intern at Bearnstow for four years. She is a graduate in dance from the University of Colima, Mexico, where she is has been teaching as well as performing with the FoBos company. She will return to Bearnstow with members of FoBos August 25–31 where the company will perform at Bearnstow and in the immediate area. The company is available for additional performances September 1–7.



Dave Brubeck Remembered, 1920–2012

From Janis Brenner and Dancers — We were saddened by the loss of the great artist and humanitarian Dave Brubeck. As most of you may know by now, the jazz giant passed away on Wednesday, December 5th, just shy of his 92nd birthday. We mention this not only to acknowledge Dave’s passing, but to express a personal side to this recent news. Janis had the life-altering experience and honor of working, playing and touring with the Dave Brubeck Quartet as a member of the Murray Louis Dance Company in the mid-1980s. Almost thirty years after the February 1984 City Center premiere of Four Brubeck Pieces (program on the left), the Juilliard Dance Division, in collaboration with the Jazz Division, will revive and premiere the 2013 version of the work. After an exciting year of putting all the components together between Murray Louis, Alberto del Saz (Co-Artistic Director of Nikolais/Louis and restager of the work), Larry Rhodes (Director of Dance at Juilliard), Russell Gloyd (devoted, long-time manager, arranger and conductor for Brubeck), Dave and Iola Brubeck, and Carl Allen (Director of Jazz at Juilliard), Janis’s dream was to see Murray and Dave reunited after 23 years, taking a bow together on opening night, April 3, 2013, at the Peter J. Sharp Theater. Now the April 3–7 performances will not only honor the genius of Murray Louis’s and Dave Brubeck’s dynamic collaboration but will also serve as a tribute to Dave’s legacy. A heartfelt toast to Brubeck’s glorious life, music and family.



In Memoriam ~ Claudia Gitleman

Dancer, choreographer, author, Rutgers University Professor Emerita of Dance,
died on August 7, 2012.

See tributes and remembrances.

Photo by Norman Ader




Photo by Dasha Chernova
Bearnstow’s Peg-Leg Piano

     In the southwest corner of Main Hall on the campgrounds of Bearnstow on Parker Pond stands an old grand piano, whose rear leg is a tree trunk, carefully measured and cut to the right size. The piano has stood there (with its log leg) since 1946 when the camp was first opened as Bearntow. As you can imagine, it doesn’t get moved around too much.

      Bearnstow alumni may have been told the story of Bearnstow’s peg-leg piano during one of those many dinner conversations, but in case you are an alumnus who hasn’t heard about it, or you have yet to visit this magnificent place in the Maine woods, this is the story—including what the famous Big Band leader Guy Lombardo had to do with it!



Une vie dans l'espace de la danse
(A Life in the Span of Dance)
A new book by Susan Buirge (March 2012, in French)

From her childhood in Minneapolis with her first dances in front of her grandfather, to her arrival on the coast of the Japan Sea in 2008, passing through the Juilliard School, the 1968 autumn in California, her arrival in Paris in 1970 where she began working in dance institutions, this book traces the itinerary of Susan Buirge. The choreographer revisits fifty years of contemporary dance, from the school of Alwin Nikolais in New York to her discovery of kagura, the traditional Japanese dances of the countryside, as well as her life as an artist and as a woman. See excerpt translated by Virginia Dillon.





On Saturday, June 25, 2011, Global Water Dances was performed at Bearnstow in Mount Vernon, Maine, by recent graduates in dance and younger campers who have studied dance during summers at Bearnstow. The ensemble performed the motions of water—the rolling and cresting of waves, the serenity of smooth surfaces, the lightness of splashes, the drama of turbulent waters, and the flowing of rivers and brooks. Their danced celebration of water was accompanied by the dancers’ own use of percussion and by the music of an Indian singing bowl and finger cymbals. The presentation ended with audience participation in the motion and a talk by Clyde Walton, an environmental engineer from the Kennebec Land Trust. —Pat Onion



Tito’s Class at the Art of Motion Studio

     On March 25, 2012, Alberto Delsaz taught a good Nikolais Technique master class at Art of Motion, Lynn Needle’s studio, in Ridgewood, New Jersey. During the class he detailed the Nikolais priniciples of space, motion, and release. Then Murray Louis spoke urging the class to “create, create” and then, after having given a good performance, congratulate yourself, because you will know when you have fulfilled your statement. Tom and Doris Caravaglia honored us all by being there. After the class Lynn hosted a small group at a nearby restaurant where they celebrated Ruth Grauert’s 93rd birthday. —Ruth Grauert


Former Nikolais Student Martha Howe Dies at 84 in Vermont

We learned of the death of Martha Howe Gogel on August 11, 2011. She studied with Alwin Nikolais at the Henry Street Playhouse in 1949, and is pictured in photos on the Histortical Photos page. She was the cofounder of Land’s Sake, an organization whose mission is to connect people to the land. See obituary.



In Memoriam ~ Annelise Mertz, 1918–2011

Professor Emerita, Performing Arts Department, Washington Univerity, St. Louis, Annelise Mertz was a celebrated teacher, performer, choreographer, and champion for the arts.  See obituary and memorial service tribute.



The Alwin Nikolais Centennial Alumni Concerts

The Nikolais Centennial Alumni Concerts, produced by Bearnstow, were held at Hunter College in New York City on December 3 and 4, 2010.  See slide show of photos and program.

The Nikolais Centennial Souvenir Booklet, created especially for the Alumni Concerts held at Hunter College in New York City on December 3 and 4, 2010, is offered post-paid for $10 (or $7.60 for Nikolais-Louis alumni). The Booklet contains previously unpublished pictures of Nik at work, plus photos and bios of the concert participants. To order a copy please write Bearnstow Administraiton.


Gladys Balin Stern, former Nikolais dancer (1950–1963) and Professor of Dance Emerita at Ohio University in Athens, has sent us a link to an article in the university online news site Compass, which celebrates the Nikolais Centennial: Alwin Nikolais: A Life Worth Remembering. Another article, also in Compass, is devoted to Murray Louis: OHIO faculty and alumni honor dance innovator in New York City




Composite photograph for Art of Motion, Coppelia, children’s production, 2008
Décor for Dance — Ruth Grauert’s Art Featured at Ursinus Exhibition

On June, 2010, the artwork of Ruth Grauert was on display in the Alumni Weekend Art Exhibition at her alma mater, Ursinus College. Viewers were treated to a slideshow of cyclorama projections Ruth has created for dances she has designed. The images have been made a permanent part of the Berman Museum of Art collection on the college campus. See a review of Ruth’s exhibit by Virginia (Laidlaw) Dillon and an online version of the slide show: Décor for Dance.


Remembering Nik, 1910–2010

See photos of From the Horse’s Mouth: Remembering Nik, held at the Henry Street Settlement Playhouse (Abrons Art Center) on April 30, 2010. Slide show photos by Lynn Lesniak and links to photos by Joe Zina.


Report from the Field: March 2010 — Suzy McDermaid Fridell and “The Magnum Force”

Suzy McDermaid Fridell (Nikolais ’69–’78) reports on her annual production number for the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction.” See The Magnum Force.


Bearnstow’s Winter Activities (2010–2011)

     Bearnstow, the place, is put to sleep for the winter, but we continue to be active in the arts during the year. This past winter Bearnstow produced a weekend of concerts, the Nikolais Alumni Centennial Concerts, at Hunter College in New York City. It sponsored lectures by Ruth Grauert at Washington University in St. Louis and at the University of Maryland in College Park. And of course, Bearnstow produces the Bearnstow Journal, which carries articles on various aspects of performance art, reviews of concerts, and discussions on the Nikolais aesthetic.

     Pictured right is the Lodge in winter, taken from the ice on Parker Pond. Photo by Dan Onion

Susan Buirge Update (June 2010)

     For those of you from the Henry Street Playhouse era, here is an update on Susan Buirge (HSP, NDT 63–67). My contact with Susan has been sporadic. In 1999, for my 80th birthday, she sent me copies of two of her books, which I read with great interest. She also sent me an interview she conducted with Hanya Holm, which we published here online. I later had a note from Carolyn Carlson, who said (and I paraphrase) that Susan has a wonderful studio near Paris and is a very goodteacher.



Susan Buirge in Kyoto, December 2009

Photo by Ruth Grauert
     Then in December 2009, I visited her in Japan.

     Susan stopped performing in 1990. She has lived in France since 1970 and on and off in Japan, of course incorporatiing these experiences in her work. To study the use of space in dance, she traveled in Ethiopia, Greece, Syria, Japan, Taiwan, and India. From 1992 to 1998 her work with a gagaku master and contemporary dancers in Kyoto led to the unique association of contemporary dance and ancient Japanese music. Four pieces dedicated to the cycle of the seasons were presented at the Avignon Festival and on major tours in France. She incorporated video into a live dance performance in 1968 while she was still in New York City (the performance, which I saw, was memorable because she incorporated the motion on the screen into the dance). She also explored unusual perfomance spaces, such as an airport and a ruined 18th century chateau.

     Susan has choreographed some 95 works. Her company performed in Poland, Germany, England, Mexico, and Sweden, as well as in all the major theaters and festivals in France. But her company performed in New York City only once that I can recall and that was in the early eighties. From 1995 to 2007, Susan and her company were in residence at the Fondation Royaumont in Asnieres-sur-Oise, France, where she directed Le Centre de Recherche et de Composition Chorégraphiques (the Centre for Choreographic Research and Composition).

     Today she lives in the Japanese village of Kamate on the Sea of Japan coast, where she directs Plateforme, a research project in the ancient dance rituals of Asia. Presently she is writing her memoires to be published in France in November 2011.
— Ruth E. Grauert  


Beverly Schmidt Blossom Receives Martha Hill Award, November 30, 2009


2009 Honorees: Beverly Blossom, Hortense Zera, Jacqueline Green,
and Virginia Johnson ~ Photo by Tony Powell
     Beverly Blossom was honored as the recipent of the 2009 Martha Hill Award for lifetime achievement in the field of dance on November 30. The Martha Hill Dance Fund arranged for her to fly into LaGuardia from Chicago with her son, Michael, where Virginia Dillon and I met them and transported them to their hotel on West 42nd Street. Great digs and one block’s walk to the site of the bash at the Cathedral, a beautiful old gothic church, which has almost been swallowed up by the entrances to the Lincoln Tunnel.

     We arrived early at the banquet hall, which was spacious with a bar at the entrance and round tables set with hors d’oeuvres and binking-light center pieces. Beverly promptly checked the dias at the far end for the lighting on the lectern: no good!—one amber-pink fresnel in the footlights aimed directly upward into the eyes of the speaker. I got busy to find the men of the establishment, and we did manage to mount an instrument so that it lit the speaker, not the ceiling. Master of Ceremonies Murray Louis arrived soon after and checked the lighting in turn. (Isn’t that what performers do?). The verdict: not good but all that could be done.

     People kept pouring in to honor the four recipients: Jacqueline Green, the Young Professional Award; Hortense Zera, a Special Citation; Virginia Johnson, the Mid-Career award, and Beverly Blossom, the Martha Hill Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance. All of these were presented between courses. The much-revered critric Jennifer Dunning presented the award to Beverly, and then Beverly performed her acceptance, which she enacted in familiar (and wonderful) Beverly fashion.

     The hall was full of Nik/Lou folks, of course, and those dancers from Bev’s post-Nik world (a couple all the way from Chicago; a tall fellow-performer, Douglas Nielsen; and many I can’t identify). Mary Anthony, Linda Tarnay and, from the Nik/Lou crowd, Virginia Dillon, Mimi Garrard, Claudia Gitelman, Phyllis Lamhut, Lynn Needle, Chris Reisner, Henning Rübsam, Robert Small, Jeanette Stoner, Luise Wykell, Steve Vendola, and I know I have forgotten to mention YOU. Please let me know if I have, and I will include you in the final report. We all got home not too late after a wonderful celelbratory evening.

—Ruth Grauert

The Conference on the Nikolais Aesthetic

    The Conference on the Nikolais Aesthetic was held at Bearnstow in Mount Vernon, Maine, August 9–15, 2009, in anticipation of the Alwin Nikiloais Centennial Celebration planned for 2010. The Conference brought together a wide range of Nikolais alumni to explore various aspects of his teaching and to share their experiences with Nik.

Left: Ruth Grauert and Tim Harling “make a point” at the Tuesday afternoon panel discussion. See more on the Conference.

Photo © Arthur Fink


Ruth Grauert and Bebe Miller Receive Honorary Degrees, May 16, 2009

     Bearnstow now has two doctors in the house—Dr. Ruth and Dr. Bebe!  On May 16, Ruth Grauert and Bebe Miler were both awarded Doctors of Humane Letters from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

     The connections here are all part of living history and all have as their source our own Ruth Grauert.  Ruth graduated from Ursinus College in 1939—seventy years ago.  She has known Bebe since Bebe was three years old and is acknowledged to be her dance mentor.  Chris Aiken, a professor of Dance at Ursinus, has been a member of Bebe’s Company and has taught at Bearnstow.  His wife, Angie Hauser, also dances with Bebe (their one-year-old daughter, Ruby, doesn’t yet).


Ruth Grauert (center left) and Bebe Miller (left behind Ruth) with honorary degrees in hand after the award ceremony at Ursinus College; Photo by Virginia Dillon
     The aplomb with which Ruth reached 90 years of age with an honorary doctorate was required just to get to the ceremony by 9:00 a.m. on that Saturday.  Her dear old Volvo died that week, so she had to take a bus to Philadelphia—ordinarily a two-hour trip, but the bus took the long route—so that she didn’t arrive in Philly till three and a half hours later.  That put her smack in the middle of rush hour, and the drive from Philly to Collegeville took twice the usual time.  But we got there, had a great Greek dinner, and prepared for the next day.

     Ruth arose at 6:00 a.m. to have a morning swim and then meet Bebe.  And then they were off to rehearse the “choreography” and get their “costumes” for the event.  The rain that had threatened held off and the ceremony took place in a huge tent on the lawn.  It was really impressive and moving to me, as I hadn’t even attended my own college graduation; the ritualistic aspect was so strong.  Ruth and Bebe entered right before President Strassberger to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance and amid the flashing cameras of families and friends.  God, I love ceremonies and this was a doozey!  The commencement speaker, Phyliss Dennery, a neonatologist from the University of Pennsylvania Children’s Hospital, spoke of her roots in Haiti and overcoming difficulties, not an unusual topic for a graduation ceremony but inspiring if one doesn’t hear it often.

     The campus, a mixture of traditional old and modern buildings, is graced by a marvelous sculpture collection so that wherever the eye falls there is a beautiful piece that seems to have been there always.  Ruth and I attended a dance concert there four years ago, and we loved the theater, which is very organic and welcoming and which Ruth deemed technically excellent.

     After the ceremony, Bebe, Ruth, her sister June, her nieces Diane and Ruth, and I joined the honorees for a luncheon at the home of President Strassberger.  The settings of President Strassberger’s garden terrace next to the pool were lovely and gracious, and everyone on the campus was courteous, helpful, and kind.  Academia shone that day.

     I’ve had the honor of being with Ruth at her 80th birthday at the Caravaglia’s, her Martha Hill Award at Hunter College, her 90th birthday at Lynn Needle’s, and now her honorary doctorate at Ursinus.  Wow—they keep getting better.

     Congratulations Ruth and Bebe, and thank you for shining your lights among us.
—Virginia Dillon

Life of Danial Shapiro Celebrated at the Joyce
     Many gathered on the 5th of May, 2007, to honor the life of dancer-choreographer Danial Shapiro at the Joyce Theater in New York City.  See Danial Shapiro, a Celebration of a Life


Frankie and RuthRuth and Frankie
Left: Frankie Garcia and Ruth Scherer at Nik and Murray’s house on Barrow Street, mid-70s (photo by Beth Bagnold). Right: Ruth and Frankie at the Joyce Theatre in New York City, February 1988 (photo by Michael Ballard).
In Memoriam ~ Ruth Scherer
      Long-time office administrator for Nikolais/Louis from the Henry Street Playhouse to the 18th Street studio, Ruth Scherer passed away Wednesday, March 14, 2007. We so remember her warm personality, which nurtured all of us. After leaving the Nikolais/Louis organization she volunteered at the American Museum of Natural History. I spoke with her in December and found her still the loving, bouncing person that we all knew and loved.   —Ruth Grauert




Porcelain Dialogues Revived
     at St. Mark’s Church
.

      On Feb. 1–4, 2007, Janis Brenner and Guests performed a revival of Murray Louis’s 1974 Porcelain Dialogues, pictured here from left to right: Sara Pearson, Betsy Fisher, Robert Small, Janis Brenner, Michael Blake, and Peter Kyle. Opening night was dedicated to Murray Louis and the late Danial Shapiro. See Dance Insider announcement (PDF).

Photo © Julie Lemberger


Mary Anthony Receives the Martha Hill Award of 2006
    The Martha Hill Awards Gala of 2006, honoring Mary Anthony, was held at The Peking Park Restaurant on November 27. The speakers included Denise Jefferson, Hudas Liff, Donna Faye Burchfiield, Joan Finkelstein, and Doris Herring, all of whom spoke at length, as did Katie Dorn, who received the Young Professional Award, and Doug Elkins, who was honored with the Fund’s first Mid-Career Award. Mary Anthony spoke gently with humorous brevity. It really was a luminous affair. Phyllis Lamut, Claudia Gitelman, Steven Vendola, and Henning Rübsam joined me honoring Mary, who has been so much a part of our Nikolais heritage. —Ruth Grauert
Murray Louis receives Honorary Doctorate. Click photo to see a slide show gallery of the event.

Murray Louis receives
Honorary Doctorate,
Photo by Cathy Kuehner



Murray Louis Receives Honorary Doctorate on 80th Birthday
     Shenandoah University honored Murray Louis with an Honorary Doctorate of Arts on November 4, 2006. The award ceremony followed the conservatory’s Fall Dance Ensemble Performance, which featured his Bach Suite (1956) and the “Bird Solo” from A Stravinsky Montage (1982). The reconstruction of Bach Suite was made possible by American Masterpieces: Dance, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. See Claudia Gitelman’s report of the award ceremony.


Danial Shipiro (MLDC 1978–1985) Dies at Age 48 (October 3, 2006)

Danial Shapiro
     “Danny was a BIG man whose motion ideas escaped the confinement of a small floor by moving to tables and beds, chairs and barrels. I still see him flying through the air to some unlikely landing place. So I’ll remember him as a MOVER who could not be constrained. He dared to leap for the moon and hang on a star, making them a part of HIS world.”  —Ruth Grauert

Danial Shapiro, Accomplished Choreographer, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, 10/4/2006


Murray Louis Receives the 2006 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival $35,000 Award
     June 18 at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina — see details.


Nikolais/Louis Legacy Workshops Alumni Week, held July 24–28, 2006, Salt Lake City, Utah, “an astonishing and extraordinary event,” according to attendees.  See the gallery of snapshots and photos.




Ruth Grauert accepts Martha Hill Award.
Award presented by Beverly Blossom.
Ruth Grauert receives the Martha Hill Award:  On November 28, 2005, Ruth Grauert received the Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award, presented at Hunter College in New York City.  See introduction by Beverly Blossom and Ruth’s acceptance at the Award Gala (click arrow to begin video).


Tribute to Murray Louis Concert.  December 17–18, Hunter College Kaye Playhouse. See flyer (PDF document).



An Evening with Beverly Blossom—Funny, Compassionate, and Wise:  Bernie West Theatre (Baruch College).  At 79, Beverly Blossom returned to New York in September 2005 in a one-woman show that she called “The Incomplete Lament of an Old Dancer.”  See New York Times review.



From Cafe Mahleria, choreographed by Kelly Roth. The dancers: Noel Brown, Jaime Velilla, and William Griffin. Costumes: Catherine Irving-Conner. Performed April 9, 2005, at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California.
Kelly Roth started his study at the Nikolais/Louis Dance Theatre Lab in 1976. He has performed in New York with Sara and Jerry Pearson, Lorry May, Robert Small, Robert Diaz and Thomas Holt. In 1978, he was a guest artist with the Paris-based Danse Theatre Susan Buirge at the Berlin Festival. He has also performed on tour with the Murray Louis Dance Company and assisted Mr. Louis in the creation of Suite for Erik (Five Haikus), setting it on former Joffrey Ballet star Gary Chryst and the late Erik Bruhn.

     In 1995, Kelly relocated to Las Vegas to build a dance program for the Community College of Southern Nevada. In addition to his duties as head of the CCSN Dance Program, he choreographs for such organizations as the Las Vegas Civic Ballet and the Desert Dance Theatre. Roth and choreographer Kyla Quintero founded the Dance in the Desert Festival, which began as an opportunity for local choreographers to present their works and is now an annual event that has grown to include artists from throughout the West.

     Kelly Roth & Dancers/Concert Dance Company, has appeared in the Avignon Festival in France, to the International Choreographic Festival in Mexico City, Prague Festival 2000 in the Czech Republic and in frequent engagements in California, Arizona, and Utah. In June 2003, Kelly Roth and company received first prizes for choreography and Best Contemporary Dance Presentation at the Dance Grand Prix Italia in Cesena, Italy. Cited for “high artistic achievement,” Mr. Roth is the recipient of a prestigious Nevada Artist’s Fellowship for 2005.



Mimi Garrard reflects on her Nikolais heritage:  Tapping into the Eternal: My Journey with Alwin Nikolais

     Two Film Festivals this summer will screen Mimi Garrard’s videodances:  In June, Omagbitse Suite will be presented at TREEPEOPLE as part of the 2005 Dance On Camera West Festival in Los Angeles and at the Fear No Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah.  See MimiGarrardDance.com.


Helen Kent-Nicoll Update (December 2004)


Crocodiles of Cuba, an Earthwatch Expedition trip to Cuba (April, 2004)


On June 8, 2004, Phyllis Lamhut hosted at her home a book signing, honoring Claudia Gitelman and her Liebe Hanya, which is now available in the major book stores.  (See Review by Ruth Grauert.)


Annelise Mertz (Professor Emerita of Washington University in St. Louis) Wins the 2004 Missouri Arts Award, the State’s Highest.


Wanda Pruska-Wallace (Henry Street Playhouse and NDT 1960–1983, MLDC 1971–1975) and her husband, David Wallace, now operate a resort called Nature’s Paradise on St. Lucia in the Caribbean. Phyllis Lamhut recommends it highly as “a great place, most beautiful.” Wanda offers a 20% discount to the Nikolais-Louis “Family” (mention Bearnstow Journal when you inquire). And Nature’s Paradise has a dance studio available! See their Web site (including pictures of Wanda!) at www.stlucianaturesparadise.com.


Greetings from Suzy McDermaid Freidel (and Squire and “Puck”) from Glenlyon Vineyards & Winery.  (See also www.glenlyonwinery.com.)


The Nikolais Legacy Forum, held at Hunter College, Oct. 10–12, was a tremendous success.  More on the Legacy Forum.


Knocked Knees, New York, and Nik — a memoir by Susan P. Lloyd (October 2003)


Reflections on a Reunion.  On March 22, 2003, Nikolais-Louis alumni gathered at the home of Mimi Garrard and Jimmy Seawright to commemorate the life to Frankie Garcia, who died in December, and the tenth anniversary of Alwin Nikolais’ death.  See photos from that event by Norman Ader & Peter Koletzke and by Jimmy Seawright.


It Rained in the Sahara, a trip to Morocco (February 2003)


Pantanal Team VI, a trip to Brazil’s Pantanal (April, 2002)