Hackettstown, N.J., March 23, 2015 – This past semester, Centenary University theater students have had the rare opportunity to work with a modern dance pioneer and Centenary alumna, Ruth Grauert, in Professor Antolini–Lid’s Dance for Theater and Advanced Dance for theater course.
“I wanted the student to explore more than just dance found in the musical theater, but also how dance has permeated the theater world through devised works that combine movement, dance, song and text to create dynamic theatrical pieces,” says Professor Antolini-Lid, who is an Assistant Professor of Theater Arts at Centenary University.
Even now on Broadway this theatrical trend can be seen in pieces such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night and the off Broadway block buster Sleep No More. Having Grauert in class offered the perfect opportunity to expose the student to the fundamental applications of the devising technique through her knowledge and expertise in the dance theories created by Modern Dance pioneer Alwin Nikolais. Grauert worked alongside Nikolais for over 40 years, serving as a stage manager, lighting specialist and much more.
The piece titled “Shapes and Shadows” was created at Bearnstow Summer Dance Intensive in 2014 under the direction of Grauert. Shapes and Shadows is a unique study of shape based on Alwin Nikolais theory of dance: shape, space, time and motion. The Centenary students worked on reconstructing the dance under the guidance of Grauert and Professor Antolini-Lid throughout the spring semester. The piece, originally scored for six dancers, will be performed with 18 dancers.
“It is a real treasure having her in class,” says Professor Antolini-Lid. “The amount of knowledge, history and insight she shares with the student is immeasurable. In the dance world, we are quickly losing the opportunity to work with people who have actually had contact and worked alongside the generation who gave us the foundation we have in modern dance, such as Alwin Nikolais and Martha Graham to name a few. The student will realize the significance of the educational experience they have had under Ruth’s inspiring instruction and lectures for years to come.”
Ruth was a graduate of Centenary in 1935. She holds a B.A. from Ursinus, 1939, and an M.A. from Columbia, 1941. She is the recipient of the 2005 Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award and doctorates of humane letters from Ursinus College in 2009 and Centenary University in 2013. Ruth studied with Hanya Holm, Martha Graham, Alwin Nikolais, Anna Sokolow, Truda Kashmann, Muriel Stewart, and Charles Weidman. She was a member Nikolais Hartford Company, 1942–43; assistant to Nikolais, 1948–1988; stage director for Murray Louis, 1953–1970; lighting designer and stage manager for Phyllis Lamhut, Beverly Blossom, and others, 1948 on; and she taught lighting at the Nik/Lou lab, 1948–1995. In 1979–1980 she directed the Compagnie de la Danse Contemporaine d’Angers in France. She is founder and director of Bearnstow, a summer arts camp, from 1946 to present. Her lectures and classes in choreography are based on Nikolais’s theory of dance—Shape, Space, and Time as the source of dance Motion. She has authored numerous articles on general aesthetics, staging, lighting, and Alwin Nikolais, as well as concert, book reviews and poetry.
“Shapes and Shadows” will perform for one night on the campus of Centenary University as part of the student dance showcase. The dance showcase will be held on April 1, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in the Carol and David Lackland Sitnick Theater on the Campus of Centenary University. For more information, please contact the Centenary University Box Office at 908-979-0900.
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world.
Centenary University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County). The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey. The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad.