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“Nikolais was a leader. He brought one to the doors of their imagination, to find their own way. Where this process led to was not his concern, but to open their imagination was…” - Murray Louis.

In 1948 Alwin Nikolais received an appointment to establish a school of dance at the Henry Street Playhouse in New York City.

Shortly afterwards Murray joined him, initially performing in Nikolais' newly formed Playhouse Dance Company. He later served as its leading man for 20 years. Nik and Murray remained colleagues and collaborators until Nikolais' death in 1993. The dance program at the Henry Street Playhouse began with classes for adults and shortly enlarged its enrollment with classes for children as well. By the mid-1950s, the school and performances had increased considerably. The adult division now had a notable dance curriculum and active Dance Company that toured and performed in the school

Alwin Nikolais

After 20 years of remarkable creativity and development at the Playhouse, the organization moved to midtown Manhattan and became the Nikolais/Louis Foundation. The Foundation included the Nikolais Dance Theater, The Murray Louis Dance Company, The School and Chimerafilm (an audio-visual adjunct). With Nikolais' death in 1993, the Foundation combined the dance companies and in 1999, phased them out, in favor of working with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.

The School continues as a series of intensive workshops throughout the U.S. Bringing the school to different areas of the country was more reasonable than bringing regional students to New York.

The Nikolais/Louis tradition represents a seminal force in American modern dance. For more than fifty years it has set an example of the highest pedagogical integrity and has influenced innumerable participants in the profession. It has always represented the art in its most contemporary style and continues to be a leader through its integrity as a creative force in modern dance. It is the mission of the foundation to continue this tradition for the next generation of dance innovators.

Mr. Nikolais, an inimitable visionary, choreographed and created the sound scores and scenic designs for over 100 magical productions. Mr. Louis, one of the great male dancers of our time, choreographs masterworks distinguished by fluid elegance and insightful wit. The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance honors and perpetuates the innovations in theatrical production and dance technique that Nikolais and Louis introduced, many of which are now standards in the field.

Currently, the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance in collaboration with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company tours an exciting program, highlighting the mastery of both Murray Louis’ and Alwin Nikolais’ choreography with a troupe of ten skilled dancers. Their performances this past year took them on several tours of Europe as well as performance residencies across the United States. The 2005 performances will celebrate the 57th year of groundbreaking dance theater performances and the ongoing Nikolais/Louis tradition that began at The Henry Street Playhouse.

Alberto del Saz, has been with the foundation for 37 years.

Meet the Foundation
founders and artistic director

the henrystreet Playhouse dance company (1948)
the early years

german lineage in modern dance
the nikolais/louis tradition

We would love to hear from you

Feel free to give us a call or send us an email with any questions or comments you have.