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Alwin Nikolais' Total Theater of Motion


Choreographer Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993) was a master of stage illusion. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is a partner in celebrations of his centennial. Gallery visitors will experience amazing lighting effects Nikolais created, hear sound he composed, examine costumes he designed, and see videos of his stage dances and ground breaking works for television.  Nikolais was also a dance theorist, educator, and spokesman for the arts.  This exhibition brings to light the career of one of the most versatile, innovative and influential artists of the twentieth century.

On display for the first time will be artifacts, documents, designs, and photographs from the archival collections of the Performing Arts Library. The Jerome Robbins Dance Division holds the bulk of material, while Theater and Recorded Sound are also represented, as would be expected of an artist who considered all production resources to be integral and indispensable elements of his Total Theater of Motion.

Additional  materials are on loan from Robert E. and Jean R. Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, at Ohio University. The Paris Opera, the National Center for Contemporary Dance in Angers, France, the American Dance Festival, and the Library of Musical Instruments at University of Michigan lent items as did private individuals. The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance provided performance elements and cooperated in assembling the exhibition.

Exhibition brochure