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Research Guides

Chamber Dance Company Archive: Murray Louis

A unique collection of video documenting the UW Chamber Dance Dance Company's over 25 year history of performing modern dance classics.

Available At UW Libraries

Murray Louis

Murray Louis

American dancer, choreographer and artistic director

In its purest essence, dance is the motion of a neurological and kinetically endowed body in which the purpose, meaning, or value of that motion is inherent in the motion itself. The unique character of dance is that motion itself is the end; reason is within it rather than beyond it.

                                                                     Murray Louis

Born Brooklyn, New York, 1926.

Murray Louis, a student of Alwin Nikolais, can be considered a third-generation disciple of Mary Wigman. Beginning in 1951, Louis was a principal dancer in Nikolais’s company. While he continued to maintain a close association with Nikolais throughout his life, Louis began to choreograph independently, and later formed his own company. As a dancer, Louis was known for his mercurial virtuosity, and his choreography reflects this proclivity. His work is witty, physically demanding, idiosyncratic, and energetic. Louis seeks to evoke the senses and to create images that provide the viewer with a path connecting his material, physical world to the spiritual realm. He has created over one hundred works, toured five continents, and performed in every state in the U.S. A variety of composers have created music for him and he also has choreographed to the music of Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky, among others. Louis has created dances for the Royal Danish Ballet, The José Limón Company, The Hamburg Opera Ballet, The Scottish Ballet, The Berlin Opera Ballet, The Cleveland Ballet, and for smaller companies in the U.S. and Canada. Louis is also considered one of the finest dance teachers, offering his students a rare insight into the theory and practice of the art. He has written a collection of essays, Inside Dance, which was published by St. Martin’s Press, and a film series, Dance as an Art Form, which has become a standard introductory series for art education programs in the U.S.

Watch Murray Louis's Four Brubeck Pieces at the Media Arcade in Vol. 14 of the Chamber Dance Company Archive (DVD UWDP 001 v.14).