Inspired by cultural shifts in the postwar era, choreographer Alwin Nikolais seeks to break down gender differences in contemporary dance. In order to cultivate a purely aesthetic style, he downplays the sexual tension and eroticism often associated with ballet and other dance traditions.
Merce Cunningham is an influential choreographer and dancer. He began studying tap as a child before moving on to modern dance, and he joined the Martha Graham Company in 1939. He eventually formed his own company in 1953, and his work has rejected certain dance conventions such as story, emotion, and choreographing to coincide to the music. Cunningham often works with composer John Cage as well as modern artists. Cunningham says he is interested in movement for its own sake.
Unlike most professional dancers, Paul Taylor didn't pursue the craft until he was 22. After a celebrated career under the tutelage of Martha Graham, he became a choreographer. His new autobiography, Private Domain, details his experiences.
Choreographer Lar Lubovitch. Lubovitch choreographed the new Stephen Sondheim musical "Into the Woods." Along with choreographers like Laura Dean, Elliot Feld and Mark Morris, Lubovitch is helping re-shape dance in the post-Balanchine era.
Choreographer Alwin Nikolais. For over forty years he has been considered a revolutionary figure in modern dance. His choreographic vision included the use of visual arts and electronic music long before it became popular.
New York based post-modern dancer and choreographer Bebe Miller. Her choreography stands out for its energetic, aggressive physicality and for its themes of family and relationships. Miller is the winner of the prestigious "Bessie" New York Dance and Performance Award. In 1984, Miller formed her own company, Bebe Miller and Company.
Dancer and choreographer Mark Morris. Before forming his own company in 1980, Morris performed with a wide assortment of dance troupes, including the Lar Lubovich Dance Company, Laura Dean Dancers, and the Eliot Feld Ballet. He has choreographed for the Boston Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet, and recently completed the choreography for the opera "Nixon in China."
Dance writer Deborah Jowitt. In her new book, Time and the Dancing Image, Jowitt approaches dance as an anthropologist, trying to reconnect dance to history by placing dance's major developments in the context of the culture that spawned it. Jowitt, a former dancer and choreographer, is the principal dance critic of The Village Voice.
Dancer and choreographer Marta Renzi. Typical of her work is "Mountainview," a half-hour dance narrative that premieres this Thursday, August 3 on the PBS program "Alive From Off Center." "Mountainview" is set at the bar of rundown resort run by three generations of the same family. The families loves and jealousies are played out to the sounds of the jukebox, which features the music of Bruce Springsteen, Tammy Wynette and Aretha Franklin. RENZI choreographed the dances and other movements and collaborated with filmmaker John Sayles on the camera work.
Choreographer Eliot Feld. He founded the Feld Ballet in 1974 as a place where classical ballet and modern dance could exist together. The company is still going strong, touring throughout America and overseas. Feld has also created ballets for many of the world's great companies, among them the American Ballet Theatre, the National Ballet of Canada, and the New York City Ballet.
Choreographer Elizabeth Streb. Her troupe, "The Ringside Company" is currently on national tour, with "PopAction." Streb's works combine dance, athletics, daring and precision. Her dancers work on and around such props as scaffolding towers, trampolines, and walls. One reviewer described it as "dazzling speed, wit and daring." (Interview by Marty Moss-Coane)
Dancer/Choreographer Mark Morris. Early in his career, Morris performed with a variety of companies. In 1980, he founded the Mark Morris Dance Group creating over 90 works for the troupe. He has also staged over a dozen commissions for other ballet companies, including the San Francisco Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre. From 1988-1991, Morris was Director of Dance for the national opera house of Belgium in Brussels. Morris was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1991, and he is the subject of a biography by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).