Star Tracks: Monday, May 16, 2016 42 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Mila Kunis Displays Her Baby Bump at Bad Moms Premiere
- Read the Cover Story: JFK Jr.: The John We Loved
- Khloé Kardashian Reveals She 'Hated' Doing Celebrity Apprentice, Says Donald Trump 'Would Not Make a Good President'
- Meryl Streep Gives Powerful Speech as Hillary Clinton Trumps Donald in Convention Star Power
- Ellen Pompeo Reveals Her Age Was the Reason She Stayed on Grey's Anatomy: 'I Knew My Clock Was Ticking in Hollywood'
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- October 26, 1981
- Vol. 16
- No. 17
The Magus of Multimedia, Alwin Nikolais, Says the Future of Modern Dance Is in the Bag
A pioneer in the use of slide projections, electronic synthesizers and light shows in his productions, Nikolais aims at a total theatrical experience in which sets and props are as important as human movement. The result is dance so abstract that some criticize it as "dehumanizing." But others find that his integration of dancers and environment perfectly expresses today's electronic age.
Such theories leave Nikolais befuddled. "I just created these works out of curiosity," he insists. When he began more than 30 years ago, he felt that modern dance had "exhausted its sexual stories, the narrative choreography about sexual attractions. It was time to look at man from a different perspective. What I really created was the first unisex dance. There would be sound. There would be light. There would be color. Above all, there would be challenge."
There was, and is, as his 10-member company (now starting a three-month U.S. tour) can attest. "One time," trouper Gerald Otte recalls, "Nik made us dance in the dark. He swore he could see us, but we couldn't even see each other." Otte describes Nikolais' approach as "frightening, powerful, never planned, a little bit of insanity and a lot of hard work—it's a little like running the maze in The Shining."
With impish humor, Nikolais contends he is just "an innocent Connecticut Yankee." Born in Southington, the youngest of six children, Alwin Theodore was raised by a widowed mother preoccupied with saving the family's baking factory. "I was a loner," he confides. "My companion was my imagination." At 18, he happened to attend a dance concert by the noted German expressionist Mary Wigman. "I was a country boy struck down by a vision," he says.
He learned his craft by directing a marionette theater and through early classes with Louis Horst and Martha Graham. In 1942 the Army called. "Death and destruction aside," he says, "the spectacle of the Normandy invasion was the first multimedia show I ever saw." After the war he taught dance at the Henry Street Settlement in one of Lower Manhattan's roughest districts and forged a disciplined troupe that drew the plaudits of uptown critics.
Today, aided by Murray Louis, for 13 years the company's star dancer, Nikolais runs his school of some 200 students and 15 teachers, while his dance company schedules 125 performances a year worldwide. Of his 155th opus, now in progress, Nikolais says, "Lighting serves as the costumes, and sound seems to emanate from human bodies." It's typical Nikolais, but as trouper Jessica Sayre observes, "When I dance for Nik, I feel twice as tall, larger than life. And sometimes I have the eerie feeling that I may be working for Merlin."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!