Daniel Nagrin's career as dancer, choreographer, and teacher spans more than five decades - from the Broadway stage where he was voted Best Male Dancer, to films, solo artist, lecturer, and artist-in-residence at universities throughout the country. His life and work reflect those who influenced him, including Martha Graham, Anna Sokolow, Hanya Holm, Edward Caton, Elizabeth Anderson-Ivantzova and George Balanchine. He trained with Helen Tamiris whom he married and collaborated with until her death. Tamiris drew on black music and American folklore and, like Nagrin, was interested in dance as a medium for social commentary. As much an actor as dancer, Nagrin made his mark on modern dance through the intensity, spareness, and emotional essence of both his choreography and performance. He is one of a limited number of dance mentors today who emphasize emotional truth and strong, clear content rather than technique and style. Anna Kisselgoff, chief dance critic for The New York Times says: "Daniel Nagrin was one of the originals in American modern dance and is the kind of model that today's dancers should look at as they return to emotional expression. The last two decades a lot of people have been working with pure form. Very few people knew how to tell a story in the distilled manner that he perfected."  Nagrin has urged young choreographers to make sparing use of literal metaphors in favor of exploring those that lack logical sense but "sting, provoke, and suck us, the audience, into the action of the stage."  Nagrin, at age 86, is Professor Emeritus from Arizona State University and continues to dance, teach, lecture and write with the same energy and elan that he once brought to the stage.

In 1988 Nagrin wrote, "There are architects, sculptors, painters, and potters who have been dust for thousands of years, and yet their creations can inform and shake us today. What do we have of all those beautiful and very dead dancers of centuries past?" Although Nagrin instinctively recorded much of his early dance and choreography on film and many photographs and videos of his work exist, there is no comprehensive compilation which defines the breadth of the man's historical and critical impact on American modern dance. The Institute for Studies in the Arts is creating a comprehensive record of Nagrin and his art on DVD. More than twenty video interviews have been conducted with dancers and choreographers who worked with or were influenced by Nagrin; colleagues from the theatre for whom he choreographed work; composers who created music for his dance; and others whose lives were touched by Nagrin's art. Film clips and videos of Nagrin's work including Strange Hero, Spanish Dance, Path and The Peloponnesian War will be featured as well as original works by dancers and choreographers interviewed for the project.