Theater & Dance’s Peter Kyle Hosts Community Learning Collaboration Honoring Hartford Native & World-Renowned Multi-Media Pioneer Alwin Nikolais

This semester Assistant Professor of Theater & Dance Peter Kyle established a Community Learning collaboration that brought together college students from Trinity College and Saint Joseph’s, high school students from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts (GHAA) and ACES Educational Center for the Arts (ECA), professional dancers from the greater Hartford community, and the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance’s Alberto del Saz to celebrate the work of Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993). The project culminated in performances of a full program of Nikolais’ repertory at the Trinity Fall Dance Concert.

In the lead up to the Fall concert, Kyle worked with many people in the Trinity and Hartford community to ensure the legacy of Nikolais reached as many audiences in as many different ways as possible. Some of those partners included Hartford area Historian Steve Thornton and two veteran Nikolais collaborators, Ruth Grauert and Phyllis Lamhut, pictured below, who spoke as panelists for a special event at the Connecticut Historical Society

Peter Kyle with Nikolais collaborators Ruth Grauert and Phyllis Lamhut and Hartford area historian Steve Thornton at the Connecticut Historical Society.

“It’s thrilling to be reminded how we can use the arts, in this case Nikolais’ creative genius, as a touchstone for inspiring Trinity students and so many others to expand on their own artistic aspirations within a larger educational context.”  – Peter Kyle, Trinity College Assistant Professor of Theater & Dance

Additionally, Kyle worked with various community partners and veteran Nikolais collaborators Ruth Grauert, Phyllis Lamhut, and Alberto del Saz (Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance) to host a master class and performance at Saint Joseph’s 5×5 Festival, an improvisation master class at Trinity, a lecture-demonstration for 80+ HMTCA high school students.

“[In the Master class], suddenly, I felt myself doing movement I had never done before: a sharp movement followed by a slow melting one, a quick grabbing of someone’s hand followed by a kick in the other direction… walking out of this class, which was unlike one I have ever taken during my fifteen years of dance, I felt empowered and improved and more versatile; as if I had a whole other side to my dancing that I did not even know was in existence.” – Julianna Brown ’23

“Not only was it an incredible honor for our students to have the opportunity to perform these historical works, it was awesome for students to have the chance to connect with those from other schools.” Mariane Banar-Fountain, Director of Dance at Educational Center for the Arts


“Having to perform Tensile Involvement was a great experience for me. I got a feeling of what it’s like to perform like and with professionals. The energy of all the dancers was amazing and very encouraging. I’m  very grateful I got to be part of Alwin Nikolais’ vision and legacy.” – Carol Nyenyezi, high school student at Educational Center for the Arts

Peter Kyle and Ari Basche, Program Manager at Trinfo Café, Trinity’s off-campus technology and community space.

To ready the campus and community for the Fall Dance concert, Kyle also set up exhibits of photos documenting Nikolais’ work by noted dance photographer, Tom Caravaglia, around Trinity and Hartford: Saint Joseph’s, the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts,, the Liberal Arts Action Lab, and on Trinity’s main campus in the Mather Art Gallery.


English 494 and Studio Arts 150 students present poem and photo responses to Nikolais’ works at the Crescent Center for Arts and Neuroscience

Trinity students in Professor Clare Rossini’s ENGL 494 Poetry Workshop and Professor Andrew Worth’s STAR 150 Digital Documentary Photography classes were one of the first groups on campus to see the restaged Nikolais works. Kyle invited to attend and respond to rehearsals for the performance of one of the Nikolais pieces, Crucible. Afterwards, the students created original poem and photo responses that they displayed and presented on at the Crescent Center for Arts and Neuroscience on campus.

Thank you to Peter Kyle, the many collaborators, courses, and community partners, the Austin Arts Center, and to Trinity College and the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation for supporting this project. Photos courtesy of Peter Kyle, Alex Fishbein, Larkin De Laria ’21 and John Atashian.

At Trinity College we define Community Learning courses as those that include perspective taking and mutually beneficial relationships with community partners. If you are interested in building a Community Learning component into your course, or you believe your course should be designated  as a Community Learning course, contact Director of Community Learning