Shape/Space and Time/Motion

Taught by Ruth Grauert

with Ideas shared by Véronique MacKenzie, from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
We are honored to have Véronique as our special guest for the second week of this workshop.

June 25July 8, 2017

Ruth Grauert evaluates student improvisations in an outdoor class at Bearnstow.
Video by Véronique MacKenzie

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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. The individual’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 10. Over the two weeks you will accumulate over 50 class hours.

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.

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 creators 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

Contact for more information.

Apply for this workshop now:  Workshop Registration Form — Summer 2017

The 2016 Shape/Space and Time/Motion Workshop

Back row: Anabel Sagrero, Ruth Grauert, Ben Swenson-Klatt, Eliza Malecki, and Jonathan Trejo
Front row: Ellen Oliver, Véronique MacKenzie, Tyler Rae, Chaesong Kim, and Dylan McLaughlin

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