Obituary: Frances Alenikoff / Founded 2 dance companies
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Frances Alenikoff, a dancer, choreographer and visual artist whose performances often interwove movement with slides, film, speaking, tape recordings and chant, died on June 23 in Southampton, N.Y. She was 91.
Her daughter, Francesca Rheannon, confirmed the death.
Ms. Alenikoff, who during her professional heyday worked primarily in New York City, was an active participant in the artistic ferment in and around the lofts of SoHo at midcentury and afterward. By the 1950s her work had begun to take on aspects of what would now be called multimedia performance, employing slides and chanting to add color and meter to the dance.
She founded and ran two dance companies. The first, the Aviv Theater of Dance and Song, was begun in 1959. Specializing in Israeli, Hasidic, Russian and Afro-Caribbean dance, it performed at black schools in the Jim Crow South; at the 92nd Street Y in New York; and, on Broadway, in Josephine Baker's musical revue of 1964.
Ms. Alenikoff's second company, Frances Alenikoff Dance Theater, was founded in the mid-1970s. It focused on dance as a theatrical medium of shifting shapes, augmenting the dancers' work onstage with a range of visual and aural stimuli.
Her interest in creating such multimedia works, Ms. Alenikoff often said, was rooted in her overriding fascination with form -- including bodily movement, the look of projected images, the counterpoint of spoken dialogue and the textural rhythms of chant.
Among her best-known works as a choreographer are two solo pieces she danced herself: "The One of No Way," performed to verse by poet Armand Schwerner, and "Re-Membering," which Ms. Alenikoff created in her 70s.
First Published July 12, 2012 12:00 am