Dance

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Victoria Marks

Victoria Marks (b. 1956) is an American dancer, choreographer, professor, and activist. Marks began dancing as a child and later expanded her career as the founder of Victoria Marks Performance Company and a professor at various conservatories around the world. She is also an advocate for mental health and accessibility, collaborating on films that investigate the effects of mental illness and founding the Dancing Disability Lab at UCLA in 2014.

Bukharan Jewish dancer Malika Kalontarova is born

September 2, 1950

Renowned Bukharan dancer Malika Kalontarova was born on September 2, 1950, to a religious Bukharan Jewish family in Tajikistan. Her father urged her to pursue a career in hairdressing much like her other sisters. From the beginning, however, she insisted on dancing.  

Film still with two women dancing with each other while a man, seated, watches

At 35, Dirty Dancing is More Than a Sexual Coming-of-Age Story

Sarah Jae Leiber

In a post-Roe world, what stands out is the story of a young woman’s moral transformation.

Paula Abdul Releases First No. 1 Hit Single “Straight Up”

November 22, 1988

On November 22, 1988, Jewish singer, performer, choreographer, and television personality Paula Abdul released her single “Straight Up” from her debut album, Forever Your Girl. The song became Abdul’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1989.

Jewish Women in Screendance

Jewish women made overwhelming contributions to the creation of the field of Screendance.  Maya Deren, Amy Greenfield, Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, Meredith Monk, and others have created a legacy of socially conscious dance for the screen that collectively exhibits and performs principles of Jewish ritual and practice. Many of these artists share a focus on social justice and a collective approach to what might be called a feminist Jewish art form.

Jewish Women and Israeli Dance in Brazil

In various parts of Brazil, women have taken on important roles for the Israeli dance establishment as a sociocultural practice within their Jewish communities. The text presents the names of some pioneer women in this process and other ones that have been preserving this traditional Jewish expression of dance for years.

Liz Lerman

A dancer, choreographer, educator, writer, and collaborator, Liz Lerman is among the dance field’s prominent public intellectuals, bringing deeply researched ideas about dance and community across fields as diverse as genetics, history, ethics of justice and reconciliation, and the science and religion of the origins of the universe. She draws consciously on the Jewish value of tikkun olam—healing the world—in her work.

Noami Leaf Halpern performing with a basket on her head

From the Archive: Photograph of Dancer Noami Leaf Halpern

Carole Renard

The Yiddish Book Center shares a photo of dancer Noami Leaf Halpern from their archive.

Topics: Dance

Dance in Mexico

Jewish women in Mexico have undertaken numerous activities in dance. They have made inroads in amateur and professional spaces within and outside their community and made contributions to the performance, creation, education, promotion, and research of several forms of dance and body techniques, all of which often involved breaking through barriers imposed by their communities.

Wendy Perron

Wendy Perron is a dance writer, educator, teacher, performer, and choreographer. Across her thirteen-year tenure at Dance Magazine, Perron contributed nearly 1,000 individual pieces of dance journalism.

Jewish Women Dance Educators and Writers

As in modern dance performance, a disproportionate number of American Jewish women have specialized in dance education and writers, with a longstanding interest in analyzing dance and establishing its place within academic artistic disciplines.

Jewish Women and Ballet in the United States

While fewer Jewish women went into ballet than into modern dance, those interested in ballet studied with gentile classical teacher-choreographers, such as Mikhai Fokine, Michael Mordkin, and Adolf Bolm. They performed in the main ballet companies, including the American Ballet Theatre, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, and even Radio City Music Hall’s ballet company.

Ze'eva Cohen

Ze’eva Cohen is a Yemenite-Israeli-American dancer and choreographer who redefined what it means to be a Jewish performer. She was a leader in the world of postmodern dance in New York between the 1960s and 1990s, a founding member of Dance Theater Workshop, and founding director of the dance program at Princeton University. She choreographed for companies all over the world, performed in the work of countless contemporary choreographers, published articles in English and Hebrew, and influenced generations of dance students.

Hester Martinez

Hester Rose Martínez Nardea is a Mexican dancer, teacher, choreographer, director, promoter, and administrator. She is currently the director of the International Festival of Extremadura Dance-Contemporary Language and is the founding director of WIROMA Circle Dances.

Cecilia Baram

Cecilia Baram is one of the few Jewish women who became a professional dancer in Mexico between the 1950s and the 1980s. She lives in Mexico City, where she had a brilliant career in nationalist modern dance performing with government-sponsored companies, as well in contemporary dance performing with independent companies.

Ballerina stretching

Seamstresses, Shop Girls... and Ballet Dancers?

Melissa R. Klapper

Ballet is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of early-twentieth century Jewish American life. And yet...

Topics: Dance
Lila Zinner at Consecration

Growing Up Jewish

Lila Zinner

I made the decision to continue Hebrew school after seventh grade when my friends informed me that they signed up because it “sounded fun.” That decision, although not well thought out, was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

Tanya Segal

As the first full-time female rabbi in Poland, Tanya Segal has creatively transformed Jewish life in the historic city of Krakow, the site of previous revolutions in Jewish thought and practice.

Hanna Stiebel

Hanna Nosovsky Stiebel used her background in dance to create graceful, dynamic outdoor sculpture installations.
Performance of Elizabeth Swados' "Sosua" at the United Nations General Assembly

Dare to Dance Together: 1940, 2011, and Today

Eliana Gayle-Schneider

Tony nominated playwright Elizabeth Swados raised our consciousness; she opened our eyes and dared us all to dance. Swados gave much to the world: theater, the gift of herself, one who constantly seeks truth and justice, and a strong female leader. Liz Swados also impacted my life in a very personal way- she taught me the meaning of community. 

Topics: Holocaust, Dance, Theater

Lonnie Zarum Schaffer

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Lonnie Zarum Schaffer stepped up to lead her struggling Modern Orthodox synagogue, Anshe Sfard, rebuild themselves even better than before.

Beate Sirota Gordon

Through diplomacy and ingenuity, twenty-two-year-old Beate Sirota Gordon wrote unprecedented rights for women into Japan’s post-war constitution.

Death of Susan Braun, dance archivist

October 3, 1995
Artist Susan Braun made an about-face in her career in the art world and began to fill the need of documenting dance on film.

Death of Estelle Joan Sommers, “Empress of Dance”

March 21, 1994
"I have always cherished my family, Israel and dance." - Estelle Joan Sommers

“One Day at a Time” starring Bonnie Franklin begins its second season.

September 28, 1976

"I just want to say, ‘C’mon guys, I’m an intelligent person, why don’t you just trust me?’ But you can’t give up.” - Actress Bonnie Franklin

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