Frances Alenikoff

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Frances Alenikoff, celebrated artist and owner and founder of Eden’s Expressway. Frances passed away peacefully in Southampton Hospital after a last visit from her daughter Francesca Rheannon, grandson, and great-granddaughter.

The Movement Research staff is enormously grateful to Frances Alenikoff for her continuing belief in the mission of Movement Research. We will miss her and her spirited example of what lifelong artistry is.

alenikoff-s-hands-frame

Frances Alenikoff (1920-2012) was a choreographer, dancer, writer, and multimedia artist who created over 90 dance theater works, into many of which she incorporated her own text, tape collages, films and artwork, plus collaborations with poets, musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists.

As a choreographer and dancer, she toured extensively nationally and internationally, both as soloist and with her own company. She taught workshops in movement, media and improvisational dance theater at numerous universities. Frances choreographed on Broadway (Josephine Baker Show) and off Broadway (for Joseph Papp at the NY Public Theater), was guest choreographer for the 10th annual Hong Kong Arts Festival, followed by a five month residency with the Modern Dance Theater of Hong Kong, and performed widely on the New York concert stage. Her solo Re-Membering was Choreographer’s Choice Dance Pick in The Village Voice‘s “Best of Dance ’96”.

As a writer, she was staff dance reviewer for Dance News (1970-1982), and Craft Horizons Magazine, for which she wrote a column called “Performance” from 1971-1974. Her writings have also been published in Dance Scope, Dance Life in New York, Vort, South China Morning Post, and Dan’s Papers E.H. Her essays, poetry and drawings have been published in Ear Magazine, Shantih (the literature of Soho), Assembling Press, and the Movement Research Performance Journal.

Her artworks, including collages, drawings, mixed media works and paintings on stones, have been included in gallery and museum shows in Los Angeles, NYC, and on the East End of Long Island. She designed and executed stage sets (panels of original drawings) for the production of Scratch by director William Korff at the Walden Theater N.Y.

Many artists in the Movement Research community know Frances as the founder and owner of Eden’s Expressway, the studio at 537 Broadway where Movement Research has been the main tenant and caretaker since 2001.

In 1973, Frances Alenikoff began her search through the up and coming Soho area for a studio space. She was offered a share of 537 Broadway and bought it immediately. At the time, her space was in between Simon Forti, who was working in the space one floor down, and Elaine Sommers, who owned a space on the top floor.

People were eager to use the space right away. One choreographer wanted to rent it out for rehearsals of a theater piece she was developing. She asked for a name of the space immediately for publicity. Ms. Alenikoff stumbled through the titles of her dance pieces and quickly decided on “Apples on Eden’s Expressway”. The “Apples On” was soon dropped and “Eden’s Expressway” was conceived.

When she first bought the space it had not been lived in for some time and was less than ready to be a working space. In an article about the space Ms. Alenikoff wrote, “Massive renovations were required, and the floor was an obstacle course, with gaps and lurking splinters that necessitated nightly applications of gaffers tape to spare trauma to dancers feet and body parts. As I repeatedly doctored the challenging floor I often remarked to myself, with more than a little irony, that “Hell’s Highway” might have been a more appropriate name or at least an alternate one, depending on one’s activity and mood.”

Frances Alenikoff purposefully left the floor unfinished so that when choreographers made and rehearsed their work the wood could store that creative energy. While Eden’s was primarily a space for Ms. Alenikoff to develop her work, the space has been rented and shared with countless great choreographers in the downtown scene. It is due to Frances’s unflagging support of the organization and passion for creativity that Movement Research has had the physical space to grow and flourish.

We will miss her greatly.

  • June 29th, 2012
  • Movement Research Staff

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