Ohio University Libraries presents dance documentary, “An Interview with Gladys Bailin”


This year, Ohio University Libraries was able to tell many stories through different media through the new online format of the annual Libraries Gatherings publication. One of these stories concerned the career of Gladys Bailin, Director Emeritus and eminent professor at the School of Dance, who donated the Gladys Bailin papers and created the Alwin Nikolais/Murray Louis/Gladys Bailin archives of the libraries in order to preserve and to access these collections for the future. generations.

A tireless champion of dance as an art form, Bailin has inspired generations of dancers with her quick wit, gracious humor and discerning eye. In her endeavors as a performer, choreographer, teacher, administrator and mentor, she is always creative, rigorous and energetic. In the interview, Bailin reflects on her early training in New York with dance legend Alwin Nikolais, her international career as a performer and choreographer, and her impact on the Ohio University School of Dance. .

As Bailin recounts, when she studied with Nikolais at the Henry Street Playhouse in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he experimented with a new form of dance, modernism, which emphasized abstract concepts of movement. and gave movement, sound and light equal importance in organizing.

Even among a brilliant group of young dancers who brought Nikolais’ new ideas to life, Bailin stood out with her impeccable musicality and sense of movement. She lent her own ideas of movement to Nikolais’ creative process, creating roles in all of Nikolais’ groundbreaking works from this period. For over 20 years she has performed professionally with the Alwin Nikolais Dance Company, the Murray Louis Dance Company, the Don Redlich Dance Company and as a freelance soloist touring nationally and internationally, performing on television and appearing at the most respected dance festivals.

Ohio University was fortunate that Shirley Wimmer, founder of the school of dance, recognized Bailin’s talents as a teaching artist and invited her to join the faculty in 1972. Bailin deeply shaped the curriculum, giving the dance school a national reputation for a diverse curriculum. centered on composition as a rigorous creative activity and conceptual approach to movement. By creating innovative dances – by turns abstract, light and deeply moving – for herself, her students and professional dancers, she has provided an unwavering model of curiosity and engagement. Her work has been funded by four grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and has been shown nationwide.

Bailin played a leading role in the academic study of dance in the 1980s and 1990s, a period of enormous growth for dance in higher education, and served as an on-site accreditor of teaching programs higher for the National Association of Dance Schools. She became director of the school of dance in 1983, serving until 1995. In 1986, she was the first woman to be named professor emeritus at Ohio University, an honor that recognized the breadth and depth depth of his accomplishments in the field.

Watch the documentary dance video to learn more about Bailin’s career from Bailin herself below.


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