In Memoriam:

Dorothy Vislocky, 1927–2013

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, after a sudden stroke.

Original Nikolais Dance Theater company members at the 2003 Hunter College Nikolais Legacy Conference: Murray Louis, Beverly Blossom, Gladys Bailin, Claudia Gitelman (panel moderator), Phyllis Lamhut, and Dorothy Vislocky.
Dorothy M. Vislocky was an original member of the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theater from 1952 to 1962. As one of the founding members, she was partner to Nikolais’s innova­tions that changed concert dance. It was during the time of his intense explorations of space, time, shape and motion, as he incorporated sound and light, and a wide array of materials to create the magic of his theater.

Originally a student at Hunter College, she returned as a professor to Hunter in 1963 where she single-handedly established dance as a valued field of study in the College. While a member of the Physical Education Department, she founded the Hunter College Dance Company and conceived and developed the curriculum for the dance major program, emphasizing creative aspects of choreographing and performing. She directed the program from 1972 to 1986. At the same time, from 1963 to 1984, she formed and directed her own company, People/Dorothy Vislocky, which toured extensively in the tri-state area and for which she choreographed more than 50 original works.

Dorothy Vislocky was recognized internationally as a pioneer in dance kinesiology and a major proponent of the Nikolais aesthetic and pedagogy, and is remembered as a truly exceptional teacher and mentor to many generations of Hunter students, a visionary leader to her colleagues, and a cherished friend.

Demonstration class on the last day of Dorothy’s workshop at Bearnstow.
A memorial service was held in her honor in Manhattan on November 10. In attendance were Murray Louis, Phyllis Lamhut, Coral Martindale Aubert, and Ruth Grauert, members of the original Nikolais Dance Theater. The gathering was a truly fitting tribute as all those who were central in her life were there. Many of them spoke of their time with her. Jana Feinman, who was originally Dorothy’s student at Hunter and is now the successor to her position as Director of the Hunter College Dance Program, must be credited for her thoughtful and loving direction of the event.

This past summer, the students and interns at Bearnstow, in Mount Vernon, Maine, were privileged to have taken Dorothy’s last classes in a weeklong workshop.

“Dorothy’s life was teaching. She had that great and happy week at Bearnstow where she taught once more. Her natural empathy, her ability to “live” with the motion of the students, and her passion for the art made her a super-teacher. She will live on in the dance of those students, and that is exactly as she would have it.”

—Ruth Grauert

From the summer workshop students and Bearnstow’s Young Artist Residents:

“I am thankful, Ruth, that you gave us the honor to be with her.”
—Suzie Creitz (student)
“We were very lucky to be recipients of her amazing wisdom and energy.”
—Karina Culloton (resident)
“Feeling blessed to have met and laughed with and learned through her.”
—Nicole Garlando (resident)
“She gave an immense gift. I am grateful I got to know her and to have learned from her.”
—Andrea Kaufman (student)
“Our week with her was absolutely uplifting; I gained so much faith in that short time.”
—Adam Kerbel (resident)
“Grandes momentos de aprendizaje e inolvidables sensaciones vividas gracias a ella.”
—Heriberto Mendoza (resident)
“She was a unique and incredible woman. So subtly funny and brilliant and open. Priceless
moments and tears of laughter.” —Cristina Woehlert (resident)

2003 Nikolais Legacy Conference at Hunter College, New York City

Murray Louis, Joan Woodbury, Claudia Gitelman, and Dorothy Vislocky
Photo by Chip Tilden

Dorothy Vislocky conducting a class at the Legacy Conference
Photo by Chip Tilden

2013 Summer Workshop at Bearnstow in Maine

Dorothy gives correction to Heriberto Mendoza as Adam Kerbel (left)
and Cristina Woehlert look on. Photo: still from video

Dorothy and Adam Kerbel
Photo by Karina Culloton