Gus Solomons Jr.
Today, we know Gus Solomons Jr. as a legendary dancer, distinguished professor, trusted dance critic, compelling choreographer, pioneering company director—the list could go on.
“Dancer and choreographer Gus Solomons jr was born on August 27, 1938 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Olivia Stead Solomons and Gustave Solomons, Sr. He attended Cambridge High and Latin School before enrolling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1956, where he studied architecture. During this time, he began studying dance as a student of Jan Veen and Robert C. Gilman at the Boston Conservatory of Music.
Upon graduation, Solomons moved to New York City to dance in Oscar Brown, Jr.’s musical Kicks and Company, with choreographer Donald McKayle. Solomons joined McKayle’s company shortly after, and began taking classes at the Martha Graham School. Solomons’ interest in postmodernism developed further at Studio 9, where he shared space with other modern dance colleagues and worked with avant-garde experimentalists, some of whom went on to form the Judson Dance Theater collective.
While at Studio 9, Solomons caught the attention of Martha Graham’s student Pearl Lang, who cast him in Shira in 1962. In 1965, postmodern choreographer Merce Cunningham asked Solomons to join his company. There, Solomons created roles in How to Pass Kick Fall and Run, RainForest, Place, Walkaround Time, and partnered with Sandra Neels in Scramble. In 1968, Solomons left Cunningham’s company after sustaining a back injury. He then collaborated with writer Mary Feldhaus-Weber and composer John Morris on a dual-screen video-dance piece entitled CITY/MOTION/SPACE/GAME at WGBH-TV in Boston, produced by Rick Hauser. Solomons went on to found his own company, The Solomons Company/Dance, creating over 165 original pieces.
He became known for his analytical approach and incorporation of architectural concepts as well as his exploration of interactive video, sound, and movement, as depicted in the piece CON/Text. In 1980, Solomons began writing dance reviews, which were published in The Village Voice, Attitude, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. In 1996, he founded PARADIGM with Carmen de Lavallade and Dudley Williams. Solomons also worked as an arts professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts until 2013.
In 2004, Solomons was named the American Dance Festival’s Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching. He received the first annual Robert A. Muh Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and served as a Phi Beta Kappa Scholar in 2006.”
Courtesy: The History Makers
Architecture and dancing are exactly the same. You design using all the same elements — time, space and structure — except that in dance, time is not fixed.
“Solomons’ teaching experience is extensive. He was choreographic mentor at Dance New Amsterdam for three years. From 1994 to 2013, he served as Arts Professor (now retired) at the New York University Tisch School for the Arts. Courses he taught included: modern dance technique, improvisation and dance composition, creative research in dance (composition and improvisation), choreographic mentoring, and creating choreography for students.
In addition to teaching, touring, guest-performing and lecturing, Solomons serves frequently as an adjudicator and dance panelist for various state arts councils, artistic advisory boards and foundations, including the National Endowment for the Arts. He won a “Bessie” (New York Dance and Performance Award) for Sustained Achievement in Choreography. “
Courtesy MLK Scholars
MIT: A FAMILY TRADITION
“Solomons’ father, Gus Solomons, Sr., graduated from MIT in 1928. He went on to work at Bethlehem Shipyard for his entire career, doing defense work building ships during WWII. When he retired, Solomons, Sr. ran for school committee. About his older son’s artistic inclinations, he imposed graduation from MIT, “just in case”. About his father attending MIT, Solomons, Jr. said, “[H]e belonged there. He was smart enough to be there. I guess it was unusual then because he was so rare, being a black person. I was there by accident. I was there by accident…I did Tech shows forever.” (From Technology and the Dream by C. Williams.)”
Images courtesy of dancemagazine.com, mit.edu, theater-scene.net, nytimes.com and huffpost.com