Interview with Theodore Dreier jr.

Theodore Dreier Jr. (born June 21, 1929) was the son of Black Mountain College founder Theodore Dreier and Barbara Loines Dreier. When he was 2,5 years old, in 1933, Theodore moved with his parents and his younger brother Mark to Black Mountain College. He spent there most of his childhood, living in a little cottage called Overlook behind the college’s Dining Hall until 1941. He attended the first grade at Black Mountain College together with two other faculty children, being taught by a BMC student, who left after one year. In the years that followed, Theodore was visiting several schools, amongst them the Black Mountain public school, which he left after one year due to its aggressive hierarchy, the Asheville Country Dayschool, the Warren Wilson Junior College, and finally the Putney School, which he considered “a little bit parallel to Black Mountain College” because of its arts and music lessons and its work programm. After graduating successfully, he studied two years at Black Mountain College, Harvard and one year at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie in Detmold, focussing on cello studies. Considering himself “technically not so good”, he decided to remain an amateur musician rather than a professional and started to work with the psychiatrist John Nathaniel Rosen, recommended by his parents, who was creating a treatment in a home setting for individual patients. Being fascinated by his work, he decided to become a psychiatrist, studying and graduating at the Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia. He settled in Boston, where he worked as a psychiatrist until his retirement. In the interview Theodore Dreier recalls a performance of the “Dance of Death” by Xanti Schawinsky, his classes with Merce Cunningham, John Cage and the prepared piano and other influencing faculty at Black Mountain College.

Source: Interview with Ted Dreier Jr. by Erin Dickey and Alice Sebrell, 9 September 2014


These videos by Sigrid Pawelke are part of a long-term research project on the early performances at Black Mountain College foreshadowing the first happening by John Cage in 1952. Sigrid Pawelke is Professor for performance and art history at the School of Visual Arts in Aix-en-Provence and the author of «Influences of the Bauhaus stage in the USA» (Roderer Verlag 2005). She interviewed 16 former BMC students including the choreographers Anna Halprin and Yvonne Rainer. The research and the videos lead eventually to reenactments and a better understanding of the links between the Bauhaus and the performative experiments at Black Mountain College.