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Shoshana Ornstein

After emigrating to Palestine with her mother and twin sister at the age of ten, the Ornstein sisters formed a celebrated dancing duo. In addition to years of performing dances in the style of German “Free Dance” and influenced by her pioneer status in Erez Israel, she taught for sixty years at the Ornstein Studio in Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s most prominent schools.

Margalit Ornstein

Margalit Ornstein (nèe Oppenheimer) is perceived as the “founding mother” of Israeli dance, a pioneer of modern dance in Erez Israel and of the revolutionary ideas of the new “body culture” movement.

Rina Nikova

Rina Nikova, a pioneer of classical and biblical ballet in Palestine, distinguished herself mostly in character dances, which had a nationalist style influenced by ethnic folklore.

Meredith Monk

An innovator in mixed-media forms, Meredith Monk uses music, dance, drama, and film in theater pieces that may move between ancient times and modern, between exotic fantasy and everyday reality.

Sulamif Messerer

Sulamif Messerer, who trained at the Bolshoi school in Moscow, had been a swimming champion for four years, achieving the Russian record at the first Soviet Olympiada in 1928. However, she left swimming in 1929 when she was promoted to the rank of prima ballerina in the Bolshoi Ballet Company, a position she held for twenty-five years.

Alicia Markova

Dame Alicia Markova, Britain’s first prima ballerina, combined amazing technique and personal strength with tremendous artistry to become one of the finest classical dancers of her generation and, through touring extensively to develop and expand its audience, one of ballet’s greatest ambassadors. She also extended her legacy beyond performance, through choreography and her commitment to coaching succeeding generations of dancers.

Bella Lewitzky

For more than six decades, Bella Lewitzky, a maverick in the world of modern dance, distinguished herself as a preeminent performer, choreographer, artistic director, educator, public speaker, and civic activist. With an unshakable preference for living in the West, she defied norms that posited New York City as the center of American dance, maintaining the Lewitzky Dance Company in Los Angeles for over thirty years. She was also known for two highly publicized encounters with the federal government, risking professional ostracism to stand upon principle.

Hassia Levy-Agron

According to the judges who in 1998 awarded her the Israel Prize in the field of dance, Professor Hassia Levy-Agron was remarkable for her artistic and educational contributions over the previous fifty years, as a dancer, choreographer, teacher and educator who produced many generations of dancers, creators of dance and dance teachers. As far back as the 1940s, Levy-Agron gave many solo performances as well as cultural evenings and recitals. She initiated and participated in combined performances of dance, dramatic reading and music, which were called Mahol-Niv (mahol=dance in Hebrew, niv=idiom).

Sara Levi-Tanai

Sara Levi-Tanai was the founder, choreographer and artistic director of the Inbal Dance Theater. With an original style and multiple talents (music, art, theater, dance), she established a unique dance theater that combines the East and West, the early history of the Nation of Israel with the present, nascent Israel—thus creating a new language of movement in the world of dance that is called “the Inbal language.”

Pearl Lang

In Pearl Lang’s socialist, working-class family, music, theater, and poetry were integral to the daily routine. Her father played piano, her mother wrote poetry, and both actively participated in Chicago’s Jewish cultural societies. Yiddish was the first language in the household. Pearl would be powerfully influenced not only by her family’s Jewish heritage but also by the cultural riches of Chicago. She learned English with her mother at night school and at Hibbard Elementary School, which offered classes integrating art, literature, history, and geography. Not surprisingly, her own interest in artistic activities began early.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Dance." (Viewed on February 18, 2019) <>.


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