Ohio University

OHIO’s Alden Library opens ‘Unique Gesture: Exploring the Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection’

Published: October 2, 2019 Author: Staff reports

An exhibit of two American pioneers of modern dance, Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis, is now on display on the fifth floor of Alden Library. The exhibit, titled “Unique Gesture,” is visually delightful and showcases the diversity of materials in the Libraries’ Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis Dance Collection.

Additionally, there will be a separate exhibit and presentation by dance faculty members Tresa Randall and Gladys Bailin, titled “Exploring the Career of Gladys Bailin” from 3-5 p.m. Oct. 11 in the Music and Dance Library inside Glidden Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Coined the father of multimedia, Nikolais’ career spanned 55 years and included everything from choreographing dance and opera, to designing costumes and props, to composing music and creating sets. Years later, Nikolais merged with the Murray Louis Dance Company to form a single company—Murray Louis and Alwin Nikolais Dance, the collection of which was later donated to University Libraries.

“The collection not only documents the dances themselves, but all the work behind it,” said Stacey Lavender, co-curator of the exhibit and special collections librarian for the Libraries’ manuscript collections. “The public will get to see elements of costume design and lighting design, choreography, posters and promotion. It is viewing the company in a really holistic way, not just through performances.”

According to Randall, there was a period in Nikolais’ career when being invited to a college residency for a few weeks with his company was not only good financially and in terms of visibility, but also helped in the development of modern dance departments in colleges and universities. In the 1970s, for example, OHIO’s School of Dance hired one of Nikolais’ company dancers, Gladys Bailin, who later became the director and earned the prestigious title of distinguished professor in the School of Dance.

Bailin, who performed and toured nationally and internationally with both the Nikolais and Louis companies, brings decades of experience and significant importance as a professional dancer, choreographer and dance educator.

To request accessibility accommodations for this event, please contact Jen Harvey.

For more information visit: https://www.ohio.edu/library/about/news-events/unique-gesture-exploring-alwin-nikolais-murray-louis-dance-collection.