Lighting designer Ruth Grauert to speak Nov. 3

“A witness to dance history” discusses path to post-modernism

Lighting designer Ruth Grauert, who spent 40 years as assistant and stage director to legendary choreographer Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993), will discuss “The Path to Post-Modern Dance and the Nikolais Aesthetic” at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3.

Ruth Grauert. Photo by Arthur Fink.

The talk will explore the evolution of dance since the 1940s, as choreographers increasingly moved away from technique-centered to idea-centered works.

Sponsored by the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences, the lecture is free and open to the public and will take place in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, located in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

For more information, call (314) 935-5858 or e-mail

Described by The New York Times as “a witness to dance history,” Grauert studied with notable choreographers Hanya Holm, Martha Graham, Anna Sokolow, Truda Kashmann and Charles Weidman, among others. She danced for Nikolais as a member of the Nikolais Hartford Company from 1942-43 and in 1948 became his assistant and stage manager — positions she would hold until 1988.

In addition, Grauert served as stage director for Murray Louis, Nikolais’ long-term partner, from 1953-1970 and taught lighting at their Nikolais-Louis Foundation in New York from 1948-1995. Other credits include serving as lighting designer and stage manager for choreographers Phyllis Lamhut and Beverly Blossom, among others.

Today, Grauert is director of Bearnstow in Mt. Vernon, Maine, a summer arts institute that she founded in 1946. She also has written widely on modern and contemporary dance, publishing numerous essays, articles and reviews on dance aesthetics, education, staging and lighting.

In 2005, Grauert received the 2005 Martha Hill Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2009, she received an honorary doctorate from her alma matter, Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa.