University Community

'An Interview with Gladys Bailin' to show at Athens International Film + Video Festival

The Ohio University community is invited to the screening of the dance documentary film, “An Interview with Gladys Bailin,” a collaborative project between University Libraries and the School of Dance, on Monday, April 10, at 1 p.m.  The film screening is part of the 2023 Athens International Film + Video Festival (AIF+VF) at the Athena Cinema in Athens, Ohio. 

“Established in 1973, the Athens International Film +Video Festival has been presenting the best in international film for 50 years,” according to its website, and is “… known globally as a festival that supports cinema from underrepresented artists and viewpoints on a global level.”

Over 2,200 films were submitted for competition this year, and University Libraries and the School of Dance are honored to have “An Interview with Gladys Bailin” selected to be shown. The festival is a weeklong event with over 235 films from more than 41 countries across the globe. This year also marks the festival’s 50th anniversary.

In the dance documentary, the film highlights the lifelong accomplishments of Gladys Bailin Stern, dancer, choreographer and Distinguished Professor of Dance at Ohio University. Born and raised in New York City, she choreographed and performed with avant-garde choreographer, Alwin Nikolais, at the Henry Street Playhouse in Lower Manhattan.

“I lived in a great neighborhood of Lower New York, where there were lots of immigrants and lots of available opportunities. I had music lessons, dance lessons, theater lessons — all within walking distance,” says Bailin in the opening lines of the film. 

When Bailin studied with Nikolais in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was experimenting with a new form of contemporary dance, which emphasized abstract movement concepts and gave movement, sound and light equal importance on stage. 

Among the brilliant group of young dancers who brought Nikolais’ ideas to life, Bailin stood out with her musicality and impeccable sense of motion. She lent her own movement ideas to Nikolais’ creative process, originating roles in all his groundbreaking works of this period. 

For over 20 years, Bailin performed and toured both nationally and internationally with the Alwin Nikolais Dance Company, Murray Louis Dance Company, Don Redlich Dance Company and as a freelance soloist before becoming a part of the OHIO’s dance faculty in 1972. Bailin served as the director of the School of Dance from 1983-1995 and was the first woman to be named a Distinguished Professor of Ohio University in 1986. In 2022, she received an honorary doctorate which recognizes and highlights her many impressive accomplishments in the field of modern dance.

Bailin has had immense impact on the School of Dance and OHIO in general. Her creative, energetic dedication that she has to dance as an art form has inspired generations of dancers. She has profoundly shaped the curriculum, giving the school a national reputation for a diverse program centered on choreography. 

In 2019, Bailin donated a collection of her materials, which are now known as the Gladys Bailin Papers, to University Libraries. The documents include over 50 years of her career in modern dance. Bailin also established the Alwin Nikolais/Murray Louis/Gladys Bailin Archive Fund to preserve those dance collections for future generations. 

“I look back on my life and think how lucky I was,” says Bailin. “To get to do what you love is pretty special…A sort of dream, in a way.”  

March 30, 2023
Mimi Calhoun