Gus Solomons, Jr., Music and Theater Arts

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.

GUS SOLOMONS, JR. ‘61- Dancer, Choreographer, Dance Critic, Actor

MLK Visiting Scholar 2002-2003 (two-week visit, September 2002)
Hosted by Music and Theater Arts

Gus Solomons, Jr. (MIT ’61) is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, dance critic, and actor. Research interests: postmodern and experimental dance; dance criticism.

2002-2003 Scholars

DanceNOW 2009 Interview

Gus Solomons, Jr. is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, dance critic, and actor. His research interests include: postmodern and experimental dance; dance criticism. 

Solomons holds a BA in Architecture (1961) from MIT. Throughout his time at the Institute he was very involved in Tech Show and Dramashop productions. He began dance lessons while attending MIT, and his first teacher was E. Virginia Williams, founder of the Boston Ballet Company.

Upon graduation from MIT, Solomons moved to New York City, where he worked to find new experimental forms of dance by deconstructing learned structures. He performed as a soloist with the companies of Pearl LangDonald McKayleJoyce TrislerPaul Sanasardo, and Martha Graham, and Merce Cunningham.

In 1971, Solomons formed the Solomons Company/Dance, for which he created more than 100 dances.  Of Solomons' work, MIT Associate Professor of Theater Arts Thomas DeFranz writes, "Drawing on his experience at MIT, [Solomons] conceived dance as 'melted architecture' and undertook a clinical, postmodern approach to dance-making that linked a fascination with puzzles and architectural design to the process of 'kinetic autobiography.' The resulting abstract, nonsequential choreography was marked by its lean incisiveness and effect of fragmentary collage."

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.

Choreography by Solomons has been performed by the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble and the Berkshire Ballet. Since 2012, Solomons has been a mentor at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s ChoreoLab Inititative. Solomons is also Artistic Director of PARADIGM DANCE, a company he co-founded with Dudley Williams and Carmen de Lavallade in 1988 “to present the eloquence of older dancers onstage in repertory appropriate to their gifts and in dances created by mostly younger choreographers”.

As early as 1980, Solomons began to write exceptionally lucid dance criticism. He continues to write for Ballet News, InStep, Dance Magazine, Chronicle for Higher Education, the Village Voice, the New York Times, and he has contributed to several books on dance.

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. 

In 2000, MIT awarded Solomons its first annual Robert A. Muh Award, which honors a distinguished alumnus for noteworthy contributions in a School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences field.

Solomons returned to MIT during September of 2002 as an MLK Visiting Scholar hosted by Music and Theater Arts. He worked with students in the MIT Dance Theater Ensemble to create "Crowd." (title includes period), a new environmental work.  For this intense residency, Solomons decided to make the work as an "installation" in the space of the Architecture Library itself. The 10-member ensemble performed "Crowd." in September and December of 2002 to an original musical score composed and performed by Brian Robison, assistant professor of music.  

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.)

Solomons' younger brother, Dr. Noel W. Solomons, is also associated with MIT. Dr. Solomons served as an Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition at MIT from 1977 to 1984. He co-founded the Center for Studies of Sensory Impairment, Aging and Metabolism (CeSSIAM) in 1985 and is Senior Scientist and Scientific Director of the International Nutrition Foundation's Central American biomedical research unit in Guatemala City. "He's a genius down there," said Solomons.


FROM THE MIT MUSEUM COLLECTIONS


THE TECH (1956-1968)

Fifties

Dramashop Presents Beckett Plays (10/9/59)

Drama Shop Plays Being Prepared (9/29/59)

another comment on tech show (3/6/59)

tech show 1959: The Sky’s the Limit (3/3/59)

Go Tech Show (2/17/59)

Tech Show 59 To Present Musical Spy Comedy, "Spy's the Limit", February 26 (1/13/59)

Reviews: The Alchemist (12/12/58)

Tech Show 1958 (3/4/58)

Tech Show Opens Friday, February 28, Knee And Solomons Have Starring Roles (2/28/58)

The Story Dante Never Dared 10 Tell Is Subject Of Lavish Tech Show Musical: ‘Out on a Limbo’ (1/21/58)

“…romantically like Sam Spade…” (2/26/57)

'57 Tech Show Presents "The of Honor A Bum"; Vassar Engagement Forthcoming; Solomons Stars (2/12/57)

standing room only: "Djinn and Bitters," Tech Show '56 (3/6/56)

Ancestry Of Tech Show Reviewed; Past Includes Minstrel, Variety, Ballet (3/2/56)

Sixties

Alumnus to be featured in first stereo telecast (12/3/68)
Dramashop Presents Shaw Plays; Everingham Directs Production (5/3/61)

Pacifists Fight Militarists in Tech Show (3/3/61)
Gus Solomons '61 Featured Dancer In "Dance'61" Program (1/6/61)
Many Activities, New and Old, Highlight Second…(5/24/60)
Gus Solomons Jr., Architect or Dancer? (5/6/60)
Drama Shop’s “Othello” Is Excellent (4/29/60)

"OTHELLO" To Open Next Wednesday (4/22/60)
International Week Ends Saturday Dance Show Last of Activities (3/15/60)
Dramashop Slates Try-outs, Future Productions (3/4/60)
Let's Put "Tech" in "Tech Show"... (3/1/60)
Tech Show To Have 18 Numbers (2/19/60)
Tech Show 1960 Opens Late February (1/12/60)


MIT NEWS (2000-2002)

4 new MLK Visiting Professors named (11/19/02)
Choreographer Solomons creates new work for MIT students (9/25/02)
Work with MIT Dance Theater Ensemble – 9/2002
Alumnus choreographer Solomons leads students in dance – MIT News (3/8/01)
Gus Solomons is first winner of HASS award (2/28/01)
Solomons wins Muh Award for his dance - MIT News (10/18/00)

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