Catalogue for the Nagrin Videotape Library of Dances

Note: All the dances in this library of tapes were choreographed and performed by Daniel Nagrin, except for those in Cassette 4, Two Works By The Workgroup. There Nagrin functioned as director and appeared only in one work.

Videotape Overview, Purchasing & Detailed History

Cassette 1 – Solos 1948-67

47 Minutes

This entire tape was filmed in 1967 by Ray Garner in Idylwild, California. Later, it was edited and transferred to this videotape.

Spanish Dance, ’48;
Music: Genvieve Pitot

With My Eye And With My Hand, ’58;
Music: Gary Harris and Michael Colgrass

Jazz: Three Ways, ’58 & ’67:

  • Blue Man, 1958, music, Jimmy Yancey
  • Bounce Boy, 1958, music, Nat King Cole
  • Bop Man, 1967, music, Thelonius Monk

Man Of Action, ’48;
Music: John McCoy and Count Basie

Indeterminate Figure, ’57 (47 min.)
Music: Robert Starer
Sound and music collage: Daniel Nagrin

Cassette 2 – Four Films

28 Minutes

Dance In The Sun, 1950,
Music: Ralph Gilbert
Director: Shirley Clarke
Notes: This was Shirley Clarke’s first film. We shot it in 1952 on the far west corner of Jones Beach in an off-limits military area and on the stage of the 92nd Street YMHA.

Strange Hero, 1948,
Music: Stan Kenton & Pete Rugolo
Director: Jac Venza
Producer: WGBH, a Boston television station. The first of a series that was hosted by Martha Myers.

The Dancers Prepare, 1958, Choreography by Daniel Nagrin & Helen Tamiris
Dancers: Daniel Nagrin, Shirley Ririe, Joan Woodbury, Linda Smith, Loabelle Mangelson Black and ?
Music: Igor Stravinski
Producer: University of Utah, Salt Lake City. An early solo that was extended by Tamiris.

Path And A Gratitude, 1965, Color Excerpts from Spring ’65.
Text: Daniel Nagrin
Music: Traditional Armenian
Camera: Ray Garner This was shot in the San Jacinto mountains.

Cassette 3 – The Peloponnesian War, 1968

115 Minutes

Music: Erik Salzman, Archie Shepp
Tape collage: Erik Salzman, Daniel Nagrin
Text: Thucydides
Voice: Frank Langella
Costumes: Sally Ann Parsons
Video Director and Camera: Woody Vasulka, Camera

Anthem – Erik Salzman
Waltz* –  Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake
Arise* – composer(?) I’m Sittin’ On Top Of The World
Miscellaneous Falls, A Collage
Turning Dance – Erik Salzman
National Dance I – traditional
National Dance II*
Johnny Dance – Archie Shepp, same
Decision – Erik Salzman
The Word Game – Erik Salzman, same
Culture – Erik Salzman
In Memoriam*
The Survivor – Snyder-Bechet
Power Play*

*Tape Collage: Daniel Nagrin

The Peloponnesian War was performed over fifty times in New York City in a variety of venues: The Cubiculo, the New York Shakespeare Festival, the WBAI Free Music Store and toured extensively for two years.

Cassette 4 – Two Works By The Workgroup

55 Minutes

1. Steps, 1972,
Director: Daniel Nagrin
Dancers: Daniel Nagrin, Mary Ann Smith, Lee Connor, William DeTurk, Ara Fitzgerald
Music: Oregon
Camera; Shalom Gorewitz
A movement piece improvised upon the intriguing backstage staircase of the Johnson State College Theatre in Vermont.

2. The Edge Is Also A Circle, 1973,
Conception and Direction: Daniel Nagrin
Dancers: Lee Connor, Ara Fitzgerald, Lois Welk, Alain Lerazer, Mary Anne Smith, Lorn MacDougal, Anet Ris, Peter Lawrence, Steve Karlin
Music: Kirk Nurock and William Shimmel. A carefully constructed improvisation created and performed for the camera at Johnson State College in Vermont.
Camera: Shalom Gorewitz

Cassette 5 – Spring ’65, 1965

45 Minutes

This entire tape was filmed in 1967 by Ray Garner in Idylwild, California. Later, it was edited and transferred to this videotape.

The Program: Six solo dances performed in sequence without leaving the stage. At one side was a table with a tape recorder, a glass of water, some tissues and a change of shoes. Occasional a spoken text.

Path, danced in silence with a 12 foot beam of wood.
A Gratitude, to traditional Armenian music.
Why Not? Body music – finger snapping, stamps, claps and body slapping.
In The Dusk, Music: First movement Charles Ives Piano Sonata No.1 A lyric dance.
Nineteen Upbeats, In silence. Many beginnings flow into a beginning.
Not Me But Him, Music composed for the dance by Cecil Taylor. Mask of an African-American by Ralph Lee.

Cassette 6 – Changes, 1974

100 Minutes

This is the retrospective program to which I returned in 1974, after The Workgroup. It adapted a similar form to Spring ’65 in that I never left the stage until intermission, returning to do the second half without any exits. Again, a table on stage right held a tape recorder, a glass of water, tissues, a chair that had changes of shoes and socks. The difference this time was that as I changed shoes and socks between dances, I opened the space for the audience to ask questions or to say whatever was on their minds. The dialogue between audience and myself was particularly lively. The concert was at Middlebury College, Vermont in 1978.

The Program:
Spanish Dance, 1948
Strange Hero, 1948
Indeterminate Figure, 1957
Path, 1965
Wordgame, 1968. This was from The Peloponnesian War.
Untitled, 1974 Music = an improvisation by Collin Wolcott. The first new dance I created after The Workgroup.

Cassette 7 – Jazz Changes, 1974

110 Minutes

Using the same staging format as the Changes program, I assembled a retrospective of all the dances I had created using jazz music, again not leaving the stage between dances and opening up to questions and statements from the audience. I began the program with what amounted to a lecture-demonstration on the history of jazz dance in America:

The Program:
Act I
Cakewalk, music, unknown
Charleston, music, Fletcher Henderson
Lindy Hop, music, Pete Johnson
The Blues, music, Pete Yancey

These four dances were arranged by me, not choreographed. They are an authentic lexicon of the steps we did over a period of a century and a half. At the conclusion of each, I gave the historical and sociological place of each of these dances in our culture.

Act II
Strange Hero, 1948, music, Stan Kenton and Pete Rugolo
Jazz: Three Ways:

  • Blue Man, 1958, music, Jimmy Yancey
  • Bounce Boy, 1958, music, Nat King Cole
  • Bop Man, 1967, music, Thelonius Monk

Not Me But Him, 1956, music, Cecil Taylor
Sweet Woman, 1974, music, Meade Lux Lewis This last was a structured improvisation created for this program.

Cassette 8 – Ruminations, 1976

120 Minutes

An evening length work, semi-autobiographical, talking a bit and dancing a lot. On stage continuously and during intermission I built a bench which I raffled off for a good cause selected by the audience. The individual dances were indicated in the program only by the music used. Most had no names.


After Hours, music, Erskine Hawkins and Avery Parish.
A jazz improvisation
Los Romeros, music. F. Melgars and Angellilo
An improvisation on my love affair with Spanish dance.
Modziter Nigun, music, Traditional
A dance to my mother.
Nigun Rikud, music, Traditional
A dance for my father.
Peace Piece, music, Bill Evans
It was an improvised dance for someone and thus it was called Someone.
Wild Man Blues, music, Morton, Armstrong and Bechet
I got my rocks off.
Shake It and Break It, music, Clark-Louchiha and Sidney
Gettysburg March, music, Traditional, Kid Rena
Two adorations of Dixieland music, one improvised and one choreographed.
Weary Blues, music, Artie Matthews and Kid Rena
A dance for Helen Tamiris
Sonata #13, Opus 27, No.1, music, Beethoven
While the audience watched, I spent ten to fifteen minutes choreographing a dance for the next season.
Layers, music, Leinad Nirgan, (guess who.)
I had deliberately choreographed a dull dance after giving the audience a technique for living through the watching of dull dances: briefly opening the eyes every fourth bar. It was completely abstract and, I was shocked by how many people cheated and looked and really liked the dance!
Art, no music, only a spoken text, giving about two dozen different and contradictory definitions of art all the while going through the motions of a difficult ascent and getting intermittently badly battered about.

Cassette 9 – The Getting Well Concert, 1978

90 Minutes

Getting Well, music, Medieval and Renaissance
In March of 1978, I tore a knee cartilage. In May of 1978, the cartilage was removed surgically. In June of 1978, lying on the floor at the American Dance Festival, I began to dance my recovery. In July of 1978, I performed a thirty minute dance of recovery.

Fragments, 1978 music, Aaron Copland A dance about my dances, themes from the past.

Silence Is Golden, 1978, silence. A dance in three jazz rhythms.

Wordgame, 1968, music, Erik Salzman From the Peloponnesian War

Untitled, 1974, music, Collin Wolcott From the Changes Program

Nineteen Upbeats, 1965, silence From Spring ’65.

Cassette 10 – The Fall, 1977

100 Minutes

This is an adaptation of the novel, The Fall by Albert Camus for the stage and performed as a monologue. There was no dance in it. The version in this tape was shot three times from three radically different angles, a long master shot, a low closeup and a high medium shot. The three were edited to make the whole a movie – on tape.

Cassette 11 – Jacaranda, 1979

30 Minutes

Music: none
Set and Costume: Sally Ann Parsons
Lights: Gary Harris

The dance was performed against a taped and spoken text. Sam Shepard wrote four pages and titled them Jacaranda. (He liked the sound of the word and the look of the tree. Otherwise, there was no connection.) He gave me permission to repeat, stretch and add to the text, speaking to a red haired woman who wasn’t there. I began sleep in an enormous bed fitted with deep blue satin sheets and finished fully dressed and completely confused.

Cassette 12 – Poems Off The Wall, 1981

90 Minutes

Cassette 1 – The Dancer
Cassette 2 – The Slides
Two 45 minute cassettes.

I Can’t Quit. I Got A Grant.
Spoken text and electronic music*
I Can’t Read The Newspapers, They’re Too Disturbing
Spoken text
Ah China!
Spoken text collage of Chinese music*
Blacks And Jews
Spoken text
Ah Women!
Spoken text and music: Ornette Coleman
Spoken text and music: Conlon Nancarrow
* – sound collages by Daniel Nagrin

Perhaps the most complex work I have done other than The Peloponnesian War. All the material came from my bulletin board. I spoke before, during and after some of the dances. Three rear projecting slide machines operated by a computerized program filled a massive screen. The dance, the slides, the words and the music all leaned on each other. Not one could make sense or stand without the others. To view Poems Off The Wall, it is necessary to have two VCRs and two monitors, one on top of the other. The two videotapes are cued up to play in a synchronicity, one is focused on the dancer, the other on the slides.

Cassette 13 – Dance As Art, Dance As Entertainment, 1975, Color

30 Minutes

Two dances and a lecture. The first, Strange Hero, 1948, quite accessible and the other, Path, 1965, generally divided audiences in two; the haters and the lovers. I carry a twelve foot, two by four, beam of wood. I repeat the same short phrase interminably progressing barely perceptibly in a diagonal across the stage. The lecture tries to define when a dance work is art, when it is entertainment and when it is both. Many teachers use this tape for those new to dance. The two dances were videotaped in a spacious, beautifully equipped television studio at the University of Nebraska. The lighting, the shooting and the editing are quite good.

Cassette 14 – The Art Of Memory, 1985, Color

37 Minutes

This tape has been seen internationally and has been an award winner. The director, Woody Vasulka is one of the pioneer videographers of America. The tape is a powerful anti-nuclear statement presented in some of the most breath-taking state of the art video technology. I have a limited appearance that was videotaped on a theatrically stormy day along the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

Cassette 15 – The Nagrin Videotape Library Sampler, 1990

100 Minutes

This tape represents a review of the entire Nagrin Video Library with five minute selections of each of the video cassettes.

#1. With My Eye and With My Hand from Solos 1948-67
#2. Strange Hero from Four Films, ’48
#3. National Dance I & II from The Peloponnesian War, ’68
#4. Duet from Two Works By The Workgroup, ’73
#5. A Gratitude and Why Not? from Spring, ’65
#6. Art from Changes, ’76
#7. Charleston from Jazz Changes, ’75
#8. Someone from Ruminations, 76
#9. Opening and Hand Dance from Getting Well, ’78
#10. Bench Scene from The Fall, ’77
#11. Five Minutes from Jacaranda, ’79
#12. The Assassin from Poems Off The Wall, ’81
#13. Five Minutes from Dance As Art, Dance As Entertainment, Color
#14. Five Minutes from The Art Of Memory by Woody Vasulka, ’87

Cassette 16 – Jazz And Me

110 minutes

The lecture, given at Stanford University in July 20, 1990, concerns my strong affinity for jazz and how that interest developed. Five of my jazz dances precede the talk.

Strange Hero, 1948, music, Stan Kenton and Pete Rugolo
Man Of Action, 1948, music, John McCoy and Count Basie
Jazz: Three Ways:

  • Blue Man, 1958, music, Jimmy Yancey
  • Bounce Boy, 1958, music, Nat King Cole
  • Bop Man, 1967, music, Thelonious Monk

National Dance II, 1968, music, a collage of Broadway show music
Not Me But Him, 1956, music, Cecil Taylor
followed by The Lecture with questions and answers.

Cassette 17 – The Object And The Symbol In Dance

90 Minutes

This material is yet to be edited. It is a lecture with five movement studies performed by me which range from utterly abstract to hyper realist performance styles. The members of the audience are invited to say what they thought the movements “meant,” – what they saw. I did this lecture many times on my tours because it seemed to clarify the problem of meaning in the modern dance for many in the audience.



Videotape Overview

It should be understood that most of the Nagrin Videotape Library of Dances are dubbed from edited archival tapes shot in the early days of black and white, reel to reel, SONY videotape, a primitive technology by today’s standards. The actual taping was generally in performance with limited equipment. Thus, between editing and dubbing there will inevitably be some technical faults and unsteady images. In spite of that, since they are the only extant records of these dances they have been acquired by many university libraries and dance departments.

Purchasing Videotapes

For information on availability, pricing and purchasing a Nagrin dance performance videotape listed on this page, please contact Insight Media:

Insight Media
2162 Broadway #2
New York, NY 10024-0621
(212) 721-6316

Videotape History

This library of videotapes has sixteen cassettes varying in length from half an hour to two hours and includes thirty dance works and a few lectures. The tapes are the only existent archival recordings of Mr. Nagrin’s solo performances. Some are in color and most are black and white, derived from l/2” reel-to-reel tapes with all of the limitations of that early technology. Some are evening length and some are short pieces. They can be ordered singly, in any quantity, or the entire library can be rented as an installation similar to the one that was shown for two weeks at the Joyce Theatre in New York City. That installation was presented by the Dance Collection of the New York Public Library. One complete version of the Nagrin Videotape Library of Dances is now housed in the Dance Collection of the New York Public Library and is also with the Dance Department of Arizona State University. Editing was made possible by grants and contributions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Research Programs of Arizona State University, the Media Systems of A.S.U., the College of Fine Arts, the Dance Department of A.S.U. and Whitney Alexander.

Notes on the tapes to be shown:

Solos,’48 to ’67

This was filmed by Ray Garner in Idylwild, California in the summer of ’67 at the Idylwild School of Music and Art where I taught dance at the invitation of Bella Lewitzky who was the director of the program. I had just returned from a European tour during which time I finished the new version of BOP MAN, the third part of the jazz suite, JAZZ: THREE WAYS. SPRING ’65, a 45 minute sequence of 6 dances performed consecutively, was filmed that same time. For reasons of exhibition time available, it is not included in this installation. The location was a local school gymnasium. Garner is a professional cinematographer. Only one camera was used; an Arriflex, that recorded sound on magnetic tape. The final editing was done at the film lab of the State University of Brockport, in New York State.

Four Films

Except for a spectacular bull fight ballet in the Bing Crosby film, “Just for You”, the four pieces in this cassette are the only films of Mr. Nagrin’s performances.

The Peloponnesian War

Choreographed at the State University College at Brockport, N.Y. 1967 to ’68 and premiered there in fall of 69 and Dec of ’69 in New York City at the Cubiculo. The performance on videotape took place at the WBAI FREE MUSIC STORE, a concert series, mostly of music. The videotaping was done by Woody and Stena Vasulka. It may have been shot January of ’69


This was videotaped by Shalom Gorewitz with music played for the tape by the music group , Oregon. It is what I call an architectural piece performed primarily with prosaic movement. The location was the back stairs of a handsome theatre on the campus of Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont, where we were conducting a workshop the summer of ’72. The spaces of the steps struck me strongly and I felt we had to do something within them.

The Edge is Also a Circle

Also shot by Shalom Gorewitz at Johnson State College, the next summer. It has a score by Kirk Nurock. This piece is a carefully constructed improvisation which underwent intensive rehearsal for two weeks before shooting. No sequence ever came out the same. Close-ups were all shot immediately after what we felt was a possible good take, with starting and finishing positions precisely matched. This time we danced in a dining room which had a monumental size and strong down lighting. For four nights, we came in immediately after dinner, moving table and chairs back, setting up our few lights and worked late into the night. The last night we finished just in time to put the tables and chairs in place and sit down to breakfast.


This is the retrospective concert which I assembled when I returned to the solo form after the end of The Workgroup. It was first presented in 1974 at Swarthmore College (University?) and lastly in 1984 at Wesleyan University in Middletown CT Over the years, its content changed but not the form which consisted of not leaving the stage but rather performing in one basic costume with minor changes, mostly of shoes and socks. During these changes, I would pull up a chair down stage and open the time to the audience to speak up and/or ask questions. I never “explained” any of the dances but rather talked around the matter of making dances, seeing dances and whatever else came up. The exchanges were rewarding and enlightening experiences for me. At this writing I am uncertain which of several tapes or what combination I will use. There are 3 useable tapes; Middlebury College in Vermont, Arizona State University here in Tempe and Wesleyan University in Middletown CT

Jazz Changes

The form is similar and only one dance is carried over from Changes, Strange Hero. The rest of the material are dances that use jazz music and/or jazz movement.


In this dance, I carried this form of not leaving the stage to the limit. I set up a dressing room upstage left. Did my warmup and makeup with the curtain up, though in the videotaped performance which is the New York premier in The Dance Gallery there is no curtain. During the two intermissions, I built a bench and at the conclusion of the performance either gave it to someone in the audience who indicated they wanted it or auctioned it off for a “good cause.” All decisions were made by audience vote. I talked between pieces, literally ruminating on this and that. I once raised $187 for a wild animal preserve someplace on the West Coast. Sometimes, nothing.

Getting Well

Three dances were premiered in this program, Getting Well, Fragments and Silence is Golden. 1978.

The Fall

I do not dance in this at all. It is a monologue adapted from the novel, The Fall by Albert Camus. The videotape is edited from three performances taped on successive nights in my Broadway studio in New York City in 1979. It was performed for three weeks the next year at The Theatre for the New City. That was never taped.


I commissioned Sam Shepard to write something for me. He sent me four pages. With his permission, I extended the material of his script to 11 pages. I danced to a recitation of the text which had been taped and speaking from the stage at only a few intervals. We started in ’78 and it was premiered At St. Clements in New York City in ’79. This dance and Ruminations are the only times I have used a set in my work.

Poems Off the Wall

This time, I turned to my bulletin board; to the newspaper clippings, the snapshots, the art postcards sent me by friends and made dances about them. I start every day by reading the newspaper, always getting deeply involved with what I find there, so why not dance about it? On some level, this piece satisfied me more than any other. From the first “serious” dance that I composed, Landscape with Three Figures:1859, about John Brown, I have intermittently used the spoken word. Though I felt the need to do this, I never was easy about how I combined speech and dance. This time I was able to make a piece that not only combined the word and movement, but visuals, slides and none of them made sense without the other two. This performance was taped in my Broadway studio a year after the premier.