Shape/Space and Time/Motion

Taught by Ruth Grauert

June 25July 8, 2017

Ruth Grauert evaluates student improvisations in an outdoor class at Bearnstow.
“It gets suspended.”

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The function of art is communication from creator to viewer. From the warm-up ses­sions through motion studies to im­provisa­tions and composition, all act­ion is de­signed to move the audience by sen­tient per­for­mance. A performer’s unique ex­ploration of shape, space, time and motion produces dance that moves the viewer to see the performer’s unique vision.

The first class of the day prepares the body and mind to move freely. Then we will ex­plore the release of movement through the lens of shape, time and space, present­ing dance as communica­tion of sensed values. Ruth will mentor the creating of dances to be pre­sented in concert on Friday, July 7.

This workshop focuses on the principles of motion that Alwin Nikolais developed to produce decentralized dancers, those whose focus would be not on their per­sonal movement but on the motion itself — dancers who could enter a moving world built upon the univer­sal elements of time, space, shape, and motion. Over the two weeks you will accumulate over 50 class hours.

Ruth Grauert and Sienna Brinton improvise during Day Camp, summer 2015
(Sienna’s grandmother and mother were both campers, making Sienna a third-generation Bearnstow camper!) ~ Photo by Sari Nordman
We soar with the ballet dancer whose leaps lift us. We fade with the danseuse whose port de bras vi­brate with death. We become the blind grand­mother who spins. We rock in the arms of our ancestress. We go with the kid next door who gets on a bike and flies to the moon. These moments of motion that we behold and cherish are those of performers devoted to the pre­sentation of fly­ing or dying, of doing or dream­ing. They have lent themselves to the time/ shape/space/ motion of the act. They have made our inner space vibrate with them and our outer space soar. It is this attention to space upon which we will concentrate.

It is not the perfect turnout; rather it is where the knees point. It is not the perfect port de bras but the space the arms enclose. That we fill these far reaches with substance, and inner space with light, is human and speak human to human. This is dance.

Ruth E. Grauert 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 College 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, 194243; assistant to Nikolais, 19481988; stage director for Murray Louis, 19531970; lighting designer and stage manager for Phyllis Lamhut, Beverly Blossom, and others, 1948 on; and she taught lighting at the Nik/Lou lab, 19481995. In 19791980 she directed the Compagnie de la Danse Contem­poraine d’Angers in France. She is founder and director of Bearn­stow, a summer arts place, from 1946 to present. Her lectures and classes in chor­eography are based on Nikolais’s theory of danceShape, 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 and book reviews and poetry (see

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The 2017 Shape/Space and Time/Motion Workshop

Back row: Owen Prum, Ellen Oliver, Chaesong Kim, Ruth Grauert, Eliza Malecki, Lea Antolini, and Marc Ferarro; Front row: Matt Fennelly, Divyamann Sahoo, Angela Cole,
Ella Wasserman-Smith, Mario Hernández, and Andrea Kaufman

Ruth Grauert performs in Bergan DanceMakers' Off the Wall at
the Art Center of Northern New Jersey in New Milford, Saturday, February 22, 2014

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Ruth Grauert and Terry Conlon improvise at the Bergan DanceMakers, March 2016

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Ruth Grauert, Chaesong Kim, and Jonathan Trejo improvise at Bearnstow, July 14, 2016.
Video by Dylan McLaughlin