Alwin Nikolais

Alwin Nikolais ( born November 25, 1910 in Southington, Connecticut, † 8 May 1993 in Paris) was an American dancer and choreographer.


Alwin Nikolais was of Russian- German origin. He studied modern dance with various teachers, including Mary Wigman, whose assistant he became later. In 1948, Nikolais was head of the Henry Street Playhouse in New York and in 1951 he founded the Nikolais Dance Theatre. Later he participated in various engagements, including at the Théâtre des Champs -Elysées, the Opéra National de Paris and at the Vienna State Opera. From 1978 to 1981 he headed the Centre national de danse contemporaine d' Angers and trained a whole generation of choreographers, including Alain Buffard and Philippe Decouflé. Alwin Nikolais died on 8 May in Paris in 1993 to a heart attack and was buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.


  • Medal Grande de Vermeille de la Ville de Paris
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Guggenheim Fellowship
  • 1987 National Medal of Arts
  • 1987 Kennedy Award