Women of Valor

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Madly in Love with Dancing

Anna Sokolow, 1910 - 2000

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Sokolow speaking about her first dance class

At about the age of ten, Anna began attending classes sponsored by the Emanuel Sisterhood of Personal Service, together with her older sister Rose. Sarah Sokolow was extremely concerned that her young children never be left alone without supervision, and the Sisterhood provided a safe haven for them at lunch breaks and after school. There, in a class on interpretive dance in the style of dance pioneer Isadora Duncan, Anna quickly "fell madly in love with dancing."

By the time Anna was 15, the Sisterhood dance teachers had taught her all they could. Recognizing her promise, they sent her to continue her training at the Neighborhood Playhouse, one of the first important "Off-Broadway" theaters, then housed at the Henry Street Settlement House. At about this time, Anna also dropped out of school and left home. She supported herself by taking odd jobs, including working in a factory tying teabags.

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Sokolow discusses her training at the Neighborhood Playhouse

At the Neighborhood Playhouse, Sokolow studied with such important early modern dance figures as Blanche Talmud and Bird Larson; she also took classes in pantomime, diction, and voice. When the Playhouse left the Henry Street Settlement House in 1928 and opened a fully professional School of the Theatre, Sokolow was given a full scholarship and invited to join the school's Junior Festival Players. Highly respected performers and teachers taught the students movement, singing, diction, and theater craft, while dancer Martha Graham and composer Louis Horst revolutionized the Playhouse's dance training. Sokolow's later attempts to bring together various theater forms grew out of her early training at the Neighborhood Playhouse.

Notes: 
  1. Quotation "fell madly in love with dancing" cited in Larry Warren, Anna Sokolow: The Rebellious Spirit (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1998), 7.
  2. Remaining information from Warren, 6-9, 13-17; Anna Sokolow, Choreographer, prod. and dir. Margaret Murphy and Lucille Rhodes, 20 mins, 1980, videocassette; first Dance Horizons Video release, 1991.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Anna Sokolow - Madly in Love with Dancing." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/sokolow/madly-in-love-with-dancing>.