Erick Hawkins-Alwin Nikolais-Anna Sokolow2010 Centenaries
Posted 30 January 2010 - 02:36 PM
Alastair Macaulay discusses Nikolais:
Gia Kourlas reviews Hawkins:
Posted 30 January 2010 - 04:42 PM
Posted 30 January 2010 - 05:48 PM
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.
Posted 30 January 2010 - 06:36 PM
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 There isn't enough dance content to keep dance audiences coming back and, as bart notes, Cirque du Soleil has superseded Nikolais theater in terms of visual splendor.
Posted 09 March 2010 - 04:44 PM
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.
Posted 09 March 2010 - 09:45 PM
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.
Posted 30 April 2010 - 11:07 PM
Posted 01 May 2010 - 09:41 AM
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.
Posted 06 May 2010 - 03:05 AM
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