Nikolais Dance Theatre
performed by
Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company

Artistic Director: Alberto del Saz
Dancers: 10
Total touring personnel: 14-15

Residency and Outreach Activities Available


In 1948 Alwin Nikolais received an appointment to establish a school of dance at the Henry Street Playhouse in New York City. Shortly afterward Murray joined him, initially performing in Nikolais' newly formed Playhouse Dance Company. He later served as its leading man for 20 years. Nik and Murray remained colleagues and collaborators until Nikolais' death in 1993. The dance program at the Henry Street Playhouse began with classes for adults and shortly enlarged its enrollment with classes for children as well. By the mid-1950s, the school and performances had increased considerably. The adult division now had a notable dance curriculum and active Dance Company that toured and performed in the school.

After 20 years of remarkable creativity and development at the Playhouse, the organization moved to midtown Manhattan and became the Nikolais-Louis Foundation. The Foundation includes the Nikolais Dance Theater, The Murray Louis Dance Company, The School and Chimerafilm (an audio-visual adjunct). With Nikolais' death in 1993, the Foundation combined the dance companies and in 1999, phased them out, in favor of working with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.

The Nikolais/Louis tradition represents a seminal force in American modern dance. For more than seventy years it has set an example of the highest pedagogical integrity and has influenced innumerable participants in the profession. It has always represented the art in its most contemporary style and continues to be a leader through its integrity as a creative force in modern dance. It is the mission of the foundation to continue this tradition for the next generation of dance innovators.

Mr. Nikolais, an inimitable visionary, choreographed and created the sound scores and scenic designs for over 100 magical productions. Mr. Louis, one of the great male dancers of our time, choreographs masterworks distinguished by fluid elegance and insightful wit. The Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance honors and perpetuates the innovations in theatrical production and dance technique that Nikolais and Louis introduced, many of which are now standards in the field.

Currently, the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance in collaboration with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company tours an exciting program, highlighting the mastery of both Murray Louis’ and Alwin Nikolais’ choreography with a company of ten skilled dancers. The 2021 performances will celebrate the 73rd year of groundbreaking dance performances and the ongoing Nikolais/Louis tradition that began at The Henry Street Playhouse.

Alberto del Saz, who worked for many years with both directors, is now the Executive & Artistic Director of the Foundation.


The performers, generous and game, bring the dances into the present. ... It’s a trip, and no drugs are necessary."
Gia Kourlas, The New York Times

Review: A Cabinet of Curiosities at the Joyce (2016)
Before Pilobolus, before Momix, before Mum- menchantz, there was Alwin Nikoalis, the great magician of 20th-century dance.
-Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company serves as the only company to perform full-evening performances of Alwin Nikolias’ work*
Dance Preview: Alwin Nikolais’s Influence on Dance is Resurrected (2016)


Tensile Involvement (Excerpts)
Crucible (Excerpts)
Gallery (Excerpts)
Mechanical Organ (Excerpts)