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Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection

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Spanning more than 400 cubic feet, the Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection documents the careers of two leaders in American Modern Dance, Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993) and Murray Louis (1926-2016), whose prolific work in performance, choreography, music composition, teaching, and writing with their dance companies advanced and influenced the contemporary stage. The collection includes films, videos, photographs, manuscripts, posters, administrative documents, awards, programs, reviews, and musical recordings.

The digital collection includes promotional and visual material from the Dance Collection such as photographs and sketches, which document choreographic development and costume design, and posters that reflect the breadth of Nikolais’s and Louis’s dance companies, performances, and global reach.

About Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis

Nikolais and Louis both worked at the Henry Street Playhouse in New York City, where Nikolais was appointed Director of Dance in 1948 and Louis became Associate Director of Dance in 1953. For nearly 40 years, their careers intertwined as they established and combined their own dance companies, including the Playhouse Dance Company, the Alwin Nikolais Dance Company, the Nikolais Dance Theatre, the Murray Louis Dance Company, and the Murray Louis and Alwin Nikolais Dance Company.

Nikolais is remembered for bringing a new vision of dance to the modern stage by blending motion, light, sound, and color in his works; while Louis is acclaimed for his eclectic and articulate style with works praised for their artistic range, perception, intelligence, and wit. Together they are renowned for the development of their aesthetic and pedagogic theory, the Nikolais/Louis Dance Technique, and for their efforts to bring dance to public school children and advance dance education in colleges across the United States.

Read more about Nikolais, Louis, and the collection in the finding aid.

Future Additions

This collection will continue to grow on an ongoing basis. Check back for new additions.

Access at Alden

Manuscript collection materials can be viewed at the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, on the 5th floor of Alden Library.

Access Online

Browse or search the collection in CONTENTdm.

Collection Contact

Laura Smith, Photo Archivist, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries.

Rights Statement

The Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection is a mixed-rights collection. Older materials tend to be in the public domain while newer materials tend to be in copyright. Cornell University's Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States is a handy resource for determining copyright status. We are in the process of adding designations to each item.