Erick Hawkins

Erick Hawkins (1909 - 1994) was a leading American modern dance choreographer and dancer. Born in Trinidad, Colorado, he majored in Greek civilization at Harvard University, graduating in 1930. While at Harvard a performance by the German dancers Harald Kreutzberg and Yvonne Georgi in New York made such a strong impression on him that he went to study with them in Austria. After Austria, Hawkins signed up at the School of American Ballet. Soon he was dancing with George Balanchine's American Ballet. In 1937, he choreographed his first dance, Show Piece, which was performed by Ballet Caravan. The next year, Hawkins was the first man to dance with the company of the famous modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. The following year, he officially joined her troupe, dancing male lead in a number of her works, including “Appalachian Spring” in 1944.  He left her troupe in 1951 to found his own company. Hawkins then met and began collaborating with the experimental composer Lucia Dlugoszewski. Together they developed their work in a unique and different direction. Hawkins moved towards an aesthetic vision detached from realistic psychology, plot, social or political agenda or simple musical analogue. His choreographies were influenced by Native American dances, Japanese aesthetics, Zen thinking and Greek classics and sought to redefine dance technique in line with the principles of kinesiology at the time. As artistic director, he also insisted that his choreographies be performed to live music. The Erick Hawkins Dance Company toured with the Hawkins Theatre Orchestra, an ensemble of seven or more instrumentalists plus conductor. In addition to Lucia Dlugoszewski, his collaborators include composers Virgil Thompson, Alan Hovhaness, Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, Dorrance Stalvey, Maurice Ohana, Bohuslav Martinů, and Toru Takemitsu; visual artists include Ralph Dorazio, Isamu Noguchi, Ralph Lee, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Motherwell. 

As of: March 2024

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