The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

73° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA dance professor heads art exhibit

    Douglas Nielsen is a noted dance choreographer at the UA. He’s toured post-Communist Russia, taught ballerinas the finer points of modern dance and tutored his students — whom he calls “”pre-professionals”” — how to hone their passion for movement.

    But his latest mission has nothing to do with dance. Rather, Nielsen is making headlines for his vast collection of art. At the Tucson Museum of Art, starting July 19 and running through October, 75 pieces of Nielsen’s 250-piece personal art collection will be on display.

    “”Unlike a dance, an image stays,”” Nielsen said of his passion for collecting artwork.

    “”There’s a human reference (in my collection),”” he said. “”I’m really drawn to self portraits because there’s a passion, there’s an identity. There’s something that’s so apparent but something else that you’ll never really know.””

    Nielsen began collecting artwork in the late 1970s when he first moved from Tucson to New York City. He danced and choreographed there while continuing to be drawn to human figures – through both dance and art.

    Nielsen reflected that most of his time in New York was spent with artists and not dancers.

    Since the start of his collecting days, he has always strived to foster his inner child, a being which thrived on invention and imagination, according to Nielsen.

    “”A child has this instinct to create and so often that’s taught out of us,”” he said. “”I was always ‘too old’ for everything I did. I still am.””

    Nielsen, after 25 years of dancing and touring around the globe, came back to Tucson. He remembered the spirit and originality of the town from his previous time living here, almost three decades ago.

    “”I love that Tucson is the blue spot in the red state,”” he said. “”I like the feeling of community here.””

    He was drawn to return to Tucson by the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre and the quality of staff and students who call the School of Dance at the UA their home.

    After discovering the ad for his current loft on Craigslist, Nielsen moved himself and his art with him and was soon contacted to be part of a tour put on by the Tucson Museum of Art.

    However, after seeing the sheer amount and quality of work within his loft, the museum begged him to do a separate show.

    “”The purpose of art is to make you think,”” Nielsen said. “”So the point of this exercise is to share (the art).””

    Pieces ranging from digital photography to acrylics on canvas to collections from Russia and China will fill the show. But what makes this exhibit truly unique is that in its partnership with Nielsen, the Tucson Museum of Art wanted to focus on pieces that haven’t been exhibited before.

    “”The fun of it will be the responses,”” he said.

    His passion for the contemporary always keeps him on his feet with his students, making him feel that the boundaries some of the pieces in his collection push, will evoke intense responses from those who see them.

    “”I don’t buy art to match the couch,”” Nielsen said. “”If it can hold the wall and stay interesting, that’s the test.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search