Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 16, 1979)
friday, november 16, 1979
Dancer expresses himself with movement
By Penelope Smith
The room was depressing him and he had to get out,
Murrav Louis one of the world's foremost modern tlanco
choreographers, a Daily Nebraskan photographer and a
reporter piled into a little red two-seater MG and went off
to Barrymore's to discuss life.
Louis is one of those rare individuals who can verbalize
his physical eloquence with both humanity and
humanism. He spoke' softly and graciously of not only
dance, but his view n thj politics of 'irrational men" and
his art collection in his Long Island home.
Barrymore's pleased him; 'he spread his hands and
looking up at the flyspace he said, "I love this place, back
stage is my home, It makes me wonder what all these
people are doing in my home. The stage is my ceremonial
ground where celebrate-it's the last great ceremonial
Louis has always wanted to express himself in move
ment. "Dance is not what I've always wanted but what I
always was and always did, When I was a kid not a day
went by that I didn't see the world through my feet and
my body, not just my eyes."
LOUIS BEGAN dancing professionally at 22 after he
had served in the Navy during World War II.
"I had seen people die, seen people killed it made me
realize that it was such a short life and that should do
what I wanted to do," he said, ,
Murray Louis founded the Murray Louis Dance
Company in 1953, At the same time he was the lead
soloist for his close friend and longtime associate Alwin
Nikolais, another modern dance choreographer
associated with the avant-garde movement in dance during
the 50s and 60s, The two have worked together since, not
only as choreographers but as teachers in the internation.
ally famous Nikolais-Louis Dance School in New York
where the Louis and Nikolais companies are both based,
Because of their long time association there has always
been some question as to the influence Mr, Nikolais has
had on Louis' choreography. Louis stressed that his
approach and his results are different,
"Nik's thinking about dance is one of a thcatrician's,
my thinking about dance is that of a dancer, He incor
porates the multiple parts that go into theater, sound,
movement, light,- color, He generally sits out, he can
watch all the manipulation in front of him and can direct
"I PISCOVER and make my insights through dance on
the stage itself, through being in it, My sensory
perceptors, the manner in which I select movement all
come from direct experience of the movement, Being a
dancer I know what I'm doing from the iniide, so one
might say Nik's approach is more objective, Mine is more
subjective, When one sees Nik's work one sees the
compound called Theater, one sees my work more
directly as movement as motion,"
' Louis says that there is little carryover in his work
from Nikolais with the exception of music and lighting.
". Photo by Mark Billingsley
Murray Louis, modern dance choreographer, will perform with his dance company at Kimball Hall Friday and Sat
urday at 8 p.m.
"If I can get the best electronic music and lighting why
not get them-and they both come from him," he said.
Nikolais originally was Louis' teacher but he said they
became colleagues shortly. Asked if he ever had any
problems oeing under a shadow Louis said, "No, J create a
pretty good shadow myself."
Louis says that he will place no limitations on the con
tents of his work nor is it necessary that it relate to
human emotions, ,
"I think when one speaks of humanity one is being a
little indulgent, a little permissive with themselves. This is
perfectly alright, one feels that they like to be the center
of the universe, everything, like the sun, revolves around
them, I'm inclined to feel that way tP because the
universe is a pretty large orbit to hold up but my play
ground is what rests within all things, what rests within
LOUIS SAID that he wants the audience to experience
an enrichment and a revelation through his work.
During the Christmas
. holidays of 1971-72 Marcel
Ophuls spent six weeks in
Northern Ireland filming
interviews, with Catholics,
Protestants and members of
the British Army concerning
their attitudes towards the
war currently raging in that
region. Interviews with such
political leaders as .Terence
Marne O'Neill, former Prime
Minister of Northern Ire
land; radical Bernadette
Devlin, and Ian Paisley, an
IRA Provisional as well as
"local leaders are incorporat
ed with newsreel clips of
everyday bombings and
riots. This montage of the
ongoing war between the
Catholics and Protestants is
called A Sense of Loss.
A Sense of Loss will be
shown at the Sheldon Film
Theatre, 12th and R Streets,
Sunday at 3, 7 and 9 pjn.
and Monday at 7 and 9 p.m,
This film is sponsored by
the UPC Foreign Film Series
and admission at the door is
$250. ' '
A scene from A
Photo courttty of Cintma 5
Sense of Loss, a film exploring the war in Northern
'J look for a more personal participation from
students, dancers and audience. 1 want an audience to
know who and what they really are and what the Dance is
about from having it operate on their senses, I want the
audience's neurological system to vicariously experience
what's occurring on stage called kinetics."
For Louis, emotion as a driving force and subject for
his dancing and choreography has no meaning without a
'To limit anything to emotion is again to be
permissive. One shortchanges oneself and becomes
indulgent, The great heroes of the theater have never
really been emotional. They come to their roles instead
with great passion.
"PASSION IS an energy. It is the strength and
conviction one brings to any of (he emotions- it can turn
that emotion into either heroic or piddle. Passion is the
strength of a Lady MacBeth doing what she did or a street
corner brawl- one is heedless or one draws forth a great
inner reservoir, If this intensity does not exist then every
thing operates on a very surface entertainment level. To
represent the depths of experience you need the epergy of
passion to dig."
Louis' choreography stems not only from inside him
but from what is happening on the street.
"It's all one and the same. How one lives in his environ
ment how one walks through space, how one holds ones
head in a dimension of upward, how one brings into the
body an autumn experience, how one touches things
there is ho way of divorcing an individual from his en
vironment, An artist, particularly a dance artist, spans this
because the instrument with which he makes his art is also
the instrument which he uses in his daily living."
Louis said that this unity between self and
environment is illustrated in two 6f the pieces that will be
performed at Kimball this Friday and Saturday night,
" 'CONTIMUUN' and 'Figura' both have very different
points of view but both are insights into the human
condition. The Dancert, not as individuals withdrawn with
self-vision but as participants in the environment in which
I have placed them, create a distraction with a very
communicable premise that allows one to get to the
essence rather than be caught up with personal extrania.
'Everything has an essence and I would imagine that
eventually come out a universal essence. There will always
be umvcrsals as long as we all share the same neurological
system. To all human beings on this earth, and I've toured
all over it, I speak the same message everywhere because
we all share that same basic equipment for reception and
Asked where he is going now that the avant-garde
movement s considered passe, Louis said, "Forerunners
orten go blindly. You never knew what your next step
was, whether it was safe or where it was leading you. I'm
not blind anymore Now I'm taking my art into an
eloquence and a richness with a conviction of abstraction
and the skill and maturity to manifest it."
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