I. Tensile Involvement (1985)


Tensile Involvement (1985)



Alwin Nikolais


Alberto Del Saz


Natalia Arauz she/her    Elianna Bohonyi she/her

Sonja Brendas she/her   Emma Chandler she/her   

Kelly Dresner she/her    Jaylyn Garcia she/her   

Liv Hernandez she/her    Grace Leedy she/her

Audrianna Neustel* she/her    Casey Quinlan she/her

 Alyssa Seith she/her





The licensing and performance of this work has been granted through the exclusive rights of Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance, Inc. www.nikolaislouis.org


Alwin Nikolais was born in 1910 in Southington, Connecticut. He studied piano at an early age and began his performing career as an organist accompanying silent films. As a young artist he gained skills in scenic design, acting, puppetry and music composition. It was after attending a performance by the illustrious German dancer Mary Wigman that he was inspired to study dance. He received his early dance training at Bennington College from the great figures of the modern dance world: Hanya Holm, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Louis Horst, and others.

In 1940, in collaboration with Truda Kaschmann, his first modern dance teacher Mr. Nikolais received a commission to create Eight Column Line, his first ballet. The work was presented at one of the events of the Hartford social season that counted Salvador Dali and Leonide Massine as honorary patrons, and was well received.

After teaching two years at his own studio and touring the US with dancers from Hanya Holm’s company, Mr. Nikolais did active duty in the Army during World War II. Mr. Nikolais relocated in New York City following the war and resumed studying with Miss Holm. Eventually he became Miss Holm’s assistant, teaching at her New York school and at Colorado College during the summers. In 1948, Mr. Nikolais was appointed director of the Henry Street Playhouse, where he formed the Playhouse Dance Company, later renamed and known as the Nikolais Dance Theatre. It was at Henry Street that Mr. Nikolais began to develop his own world of abstract dance theatre, portraying man as part of a total environment. His unique choreographic works placed him in a realm previously untouched by other choreographers. Mr. Nikolais redefined dance, as “the art of motion which, left on its own merits, becomes the message as well as the medium.“ It was also at Henry Street Playhouse that Mr. Nikolais was joined by Murray Louis, who was to become a driving force in the young Playhouse Company, Mr. Nikolais’ leading dancer and longtime collaborator.

While developing his choreography, Mr. Nikolais’ lifelong interest in music led him to create his own scores. He reinterpreted music as the art of sound, not as a form enslaved to scales, rules of harmony or meter. He experimented with everything from automobile parts to east Asian instruments to gain a sound library. Eventually he manipulated the various sounds by use of tape recorders. A Guggenheim Fellowship allowed him to purchase the first electronic synthesizer from Robert Moog.

In 1956, the Nikolais Dance Theater was invited to its first of many appearances at the American Dance Festival. With this, his total dance theatre had begun to take shape, and the company established itself in the forefront of American contemporary dance. With the company’s extraordinary successful 1968 Paris season at the Theatre Des Champs-Elysees, Mr. Nikolais’ impact on dance grew internationally. Following the Paris triumph, the company began performing in the world’s greatest theaters. Here began a long artistic relationship with the Theatre de la Ville starting in 1971 and continuing now after his death.

In 1978, the French National Ministry of Culture invited him to form the Centre Nationale de la Danse Contemporaine in Angers, France. In December 1980, he created his 99th choreographic work Schema, for the Paris Opera. At the same time, his choreography for an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti was being staged at the Vienna Staatsoper.

Mr. Nikolais has been lauded for his accomplishments and contributions many times over. In 1987 he was awarded our nation’s highest cultural honors, the National Medal of Arts, bestowed by President Reagan, and the Kennedy Center Honors, conferred during a three day round of official Washington events, which culminated in a CBS telecast featuring the Nikolais Dance Theater. He received the City of Paris’ highest honor, the Grande Medaille de Vermeille de la Ville de Paris, as well as medals from Seville, Spain, Athens, Greece, and 30 other cities both foreign and national as well as a special citation from New York City’s Mayor , which he shared with Murray Louis. Often affectionately referred to as the American Patriarch of French modern dance, Mr. Nikolais is a knight of France’s Legion of Honor and a commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.

His accolades from the world of arts and letters included the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award; the Capezio Award; Circulo Criticos Award, Chile; Emmy Citation Award; Dance Magazine Award; the Tiffany Award; and the American Dance Guild Award.

Mr. Nikolais has been granted five honorary doctorate degrees, has twice been designated a Guggenheim Fellow, and was the recipient of a three year creativity grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Mr. Nikolais and his work have been featured in numerous films and television programs in the US and abroad. In 1987, “Nik and Murray,“ a documentary film by Christian Blackwood, aired on the PBS series, “American Masters.“

Choreographer, composer, scenic and costume designer, has blended his many talents into a single aesthetic force. In a career that has spanned five decades, he has left his imprint on every theatrical medium, from Broadway to television. Whenever there is something new, his hand is evident. His lighting wonders, his sound scores, his choreography, and his costumes have influenced the contemporary stage and a generation of choreographers. Mr. Nikolais is the creator of the internationally acclaimed Nikolais Dance Theater and the genius responsible for dozens of visual masterpieces.

As a uniquely original exponent of American contemporary dance he toured throughout Europe and subsequent tours to South America and the Far East. Mr. Nikolais is renowned as a master teacher, and his pedagogy is taught in schools and universities throughout the world. He passed away May 8, 1993 and is buried in Pere La Chaisse cemetery in Paris.

Alberto del Saz (Tito) is the Artistic Director of the Nikolais/Louis foundation for Dance. Mr. del Saz is a vital and important link in keeping the Nikolais/Louis repertory active and alive.

Mr. del Saz was born in Bilbao, Spain. At an early age he studied ice-skating, which later lead to his performing career. In 1980 Mr. del Saz became the Spanish National Champion in figure skating and soon made his debut with Holiday on Ice International. His early dance training was received at the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab from the great teachers of the technique: Hanya Holm, Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis, Claudia Gitelman, Tandy Beal, Beverly Blossom and others.

In 1985 Mr. del Saz made his debut as a lead soloist with the Nikolais Dance Theater, later renamed the Murray Louis and Nikolais dance Company. As a member of this internationally acclaimed company he has toured to virtually every continent of the globe.

Mr. del Saz has appeared for President Reagan at the Kennedy Center Honors in a CBS telecast featuring the Nikolais Dance Theatre as well as on a PBS American Masters series in “Nik and Murray”, an award winning documentary film by Christian Blackwood. He has also represented the United States State Department on a tour of India, appeared at the Paris Opera Garnier in a Homage to Alwin Nikolais and at the Next Wave Festival with Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company.

In 1990 he went to Japan where he appeared as a guest artist in “V”, a project by Mr. Ushio Amagatsu, artistic director of Sankai Juku. He has also performed at “Men Brazil”. Mr. del Saz has appeared as a solo artist in works by Hanya Holm, Maureen Fleming, Sara Pearson, Cleo Parker Robinson and others.

Mr. del Saz is the reconstruction director of the Nikolais/Louis repertory and has staged the repertory on university and professional dance companies around the world.

In 1997 he danced the role Rudolph Nureyev’s role in “Moments” a work created by Mr. Louis.

Mr. del Saz work has been funded by NYSCA in collaboration with Ice Theater of New York. His skating work has appeared on Ice-Wars, Grand Slam and the Professional World Championships televised on CBS, FOX and ABC networks as well as the official openings of Rockefeller and Bryant Park.

Mr. del Saz has been with the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for 40 years, at the moment his focus is in preserving the Nikolais/Louis technique, repertory and legacy through his teaching and directing.