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Erick Hawkins-Alwin Nikolais-Anna Sokolow2010 Centenaries


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#1 miliosr

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 02:36 PM

I'm probably the only one who cares but I thought I would start a topic for Erick Hawkins, Alwin Nikolais and Anna Sokolow, as 2010 is the centenary for each.

Alastair Macaulay discusses Nikolais:

http://www.nytimes.c....html?ref=dance
http://www.nytimes.c....html?ref=dance

Gia Kourlas reviews Hawkins:

http://www.nytimes.c...n...kins&st=cse

#2 sandik

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 04:42 PM

You are most certainly not the only one who cares. I understand from a friend who used to dance for Murray Louis that there's the possibility of some Nikolais centenary stuff coming up, but nothing firm so far.

#3 bart

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 05:48 PM

Macaulay writes:

I have seen no Nikolais choreography onstage since the 1970s; many younger dancegoers will have missed viewing any of it. But Nikolais was sensationally popular for many years, abroad as well as here, and he was one of the best-known dance makers who led the post-World War II movement against representationalism in dance.

I have strong and positive -- but not visually precise -- memories of the Nikolais company performing in New York during the 60s and 70s, and I know that they toured extensively abroad.

I don't know what Macaulay means when he says that Nikolais "led the ... movement against representationalism in dance." I recall amazing visual spectacle in Nikolais's work -- lots of color, great lighting effects, witty costumes, clever props, interesting musical choices, sound effects, human situations clearly depicted. Wonderful dancers, but often not "dancing" in any conventional sense. I just wish I could remember to what extent, and in what ways, the dancers -- a very talented group, as I recall -- actually "danced."

It occurs to me that I seem to be describing some sort of early prototype of Robert Lepage or Cirque du Soleil, which is not at all what Nikolais did. But what DID he do? Can the dance elements be separated from the visual spectable? I'd be very interested in hearing from those who can say more about Nikolais as a choreographer per se and how he fits into the company of Hawkins, Sokolow, and the others of his generation.

#4 miliosr

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 06:36 PM

I saw the Ririe-Woodbury give a performance of four Nikolais pieces almost three years ago.

My take on it then was that the costumes/lighting/props/general "scenicness" of Nikolais' brand of theater was impressive. However, the music he used was repetitive and unpleasant and the actual dance content was thin and unmemorable. I think the mistake Nikolais made was in trying to do everything himself -- choreographer, music director, scenic director, lighting director, etc. In retrospect, he probably should have found someone to choreograph for him, as this was the area in which he was the weakest. I believe it's for this reason that his "dance" theater has disappeared so quickly since the time he was a major name (60s-80s). There isn't enough dance content to keep dance audiences coming back and, as bart notes, Cirque du Soleil has superseded Nikolais theater in terms of visual splendor.

#5 miliosr

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 05:21 AM

Nikolais tribute at the Joyce:

http://www.joyce.org...c...8&theater=1

#6 miliosr

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 05:00 AM

DanceViewTimes reviews the 'Sokolow 100th Birthday Tribute':

http://www.danceview...-anna.html#more

#7 miliosr

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 04:44 PM

Tobi Tobias weighs in on performances related to Anna Sokolow's centenary:

http://www.artsjourn..._afterlife.html

Tobias makes an excellent point that the tenor of the times may be working against the preservation of the Sokolow repertory -- their small-scale nature may go too much against the grain of current audiences' larger-than-life expectations.

#8 Marga

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 09:45 PM

I also care very much about the centenaries of these great modern dance pioneers. Nikolais/Louis was one of my favorite modern dance techniques to learn. It made a body feel good and accomplished. Influenced by Mary Wigman and Hanya Holm among others, Nikolais and Murray Louis developed a basic technique which was a whole-body training applicable to many other modern techniques. Improvisation was an important component. I wish I could have spent longer studying this technique.

Walking in New York two years ago I was surprised to look up and see a street named "Anna Sokolow Way". I took a picture of it and told my daughter, who was with me, about Ms. Sokolow. Later I learned that it was the first time a New York street had been named after a female choreographer.

Like Nikolais, Hawkins was a forerunner in multimedia use. He needed live music for his dances and visual art as a further accompaniment. I was fascinated with the shapes he had his dancers make and the way he used costuming. I remember that Hawkins and Martha Graham were married for a time. He danced with her company in the 40's and was her first male dancer.

To me, all three are pillars of modern dance.

#9 miliosr

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 05:22 PM

Gia Kourlas reviews the Sokolow Theater/Dance Ensemble:

http://www.nytimes.c...w.html?ref=arts

#10 miliosr

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 05:13 PM

More about Alwin Nikolais:

http://artsbeat.blog...ikolais-at-100/

#11 sandik

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 11:07 PM

Thanks so much for the link to the blog post on Nik -- he was a very special part of my dance education, and I'm thrilled to see him (and Murray) get some current recognition!

#12 Ray

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 09:41 AM

Thanks so much for the link to the blog post on Nik -- he was a very special part of my dance education, and I'm thrilled to see him (and Murray) get some current recognition!


Sandi, I had the opportunity to see an edition of "From the Horse's Mouth" devoted to Nik, performed last night at the Henry Street Settlement (referred to here). Alberto Del Saz ("Tito"), among many others, danced AMAZINGLY--he must have a decrepit painting of himself in some attic somewhere! You would have loved it; I hope it was videoed!

EDITED TO ADD: Here's Robert Johnson's take on the evening.

#13 miliosr

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Posted 04 May 2010 - 04:22 PM

Deborah Jowitt reviews Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble:

http://www.villagevo...erations-apart/

#14 miliosr

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Posted 05 May 2010 - 05:09 PM

Roslyn Sulcas reviews Ririe-Woodbury's Nikolais performances at the Joyce:

http://www.nytimes.c...s.html?ref=arts

#15 bart

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 03:05 AM

Walking in New York two years ago I was surprised to look up and see a street named "Anna Sokolow Way". I took a picture of it and told my daughter, who was with me, about Ms. Sokolow. Later I learned that it was the first time a New York street had been named after a female choreographer.

Marga, I just caught up with your post and agree entirely with your comments on the importance of commemorating -- and preserving the work of -- these choreographers. Here's a brief article about the dedication of Anna Sokolow Way. (She shares the honor with Alvin Ailey.) The sign is at 1 Christopher Street. It's not clear which part is actually Anna Sokolow Way.

http://www.thevillag...raphergets.html


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