Content type

Liz Lerman dance celebrates Statue of Liberty centennial

July 11, 1986

As part of the celebrations of the centennial of the Statue of Liberty, Liz Lerman's Still Crossing was performed in Manhattan on July 11, 1986.

Anna Halprin receives lifetime achievement award in modern dance

June 23, 1997

On June 23, 1997, Anna Halprin received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement in modern dance.

Estelle Joan Sommers takes over Capezio

June 1, 1964

Estelle Sommers got her start in the dance world when she transformed her first husband's Cincinnati piece-goods retail store into a dancewe

Birth of choreographer Pearl Lang

May 29, 1921

Pearl Lang is well-known both for her work as one of Martha Graham's principal soloists and for her own choreography.

Dancer Nora Kaye performs the role of Hagar in "Pillar of Fire"

April 8, 1942

Nora Kaye's performance as Hagar in the world premiere of Antony Tudor's Pillar of Fire, on April 8, 1942, was hailed by the New York Times as "superb." The Times review

Melissa Hayden premieres role of Titania in Balanchine ballet

January 17, 1962

Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1923, Melissa Hayden became one of the biggest stars of American ballet.

Sydney Taylor

Sydney Taylor created a fictional family of such endearing character and loving spirit that her young readers clamored for more titles. The values of family love, charity, wisdom, compassion, and social justice that define Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family owe their particular flavor to Jewish culture.

Helen Tamiris

Helen Tamiris was a leader in forming American modern dance. An acclaimed choreographer and director, she used dance to comment on the social issues of her day, including racism, poverty, and war.

Estelle Joan Sommers

Sommers made her career in retail dancewear as a designer, business executive, and owner of various ventures. Since taking ballet and tap classes as a child, dance had been her passion, professionally and socially.

Anna Sokolow

Anna Sokolow is a dancer and choreographer whose hundreds of dance works, plays, operas and festivals have reflected the social, political and human conflicts of her time.

Margalit Oved

Margalit Oved—dancer, choreographer, singer, actress, musician—is the epitome of a performance artist. She has left an indelible mark on twentieth-century Jewish culture through her inventive and modern interpretations of ancient biblical tales.

Sophie Maslow

Born in New York – 1911, Sophie Maslow was one of those modern dance pioneers who “could march from the Workers’ Bookstore to the Martha Graham Studio in no time at all, a fact that made it possible to fight the spiritual wars of revolutionary politics and modern dance almost simultaneously” (Graff).

Melissa Hayden

Melissa Hayden was born Mildred Herman, April 23, 1923, in Toronto, Canada. Neither of her parents, Kate Weinberg and Jacob Herman, who had immigrated from the region surrounding Kiev in Russia, had any artistic talents. Her father operated a successful wholesale fruit and vegetable business. Her sister Leola was eight years her senior; her sister Annette was three years younger. Hayden started her ballet training fairly late, at age fifteen, with Boris Volkoff, an influential Toronto teacher. After five years of study with Volkoff, for which, when she was out of high school, she paid by working as a bookkeeper, she decided it was necessary to continue her training in New York.

Goldie Hawn

Goldie Hawn was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, on November 21, 1945, to Laura (Stienhoff) Hawn, a dance school owner and jewelry wholesaler, and Edward Rutledge Hawn, a professional musician. Hawn was raised Jewish although, she notes, “not in a strictly religious atmosphere,” and describes a happy home life. She began dancing at age three, and danced in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo’s Nutcracker chorus at age ten. Hawn recalls being asked to dance on point for a friend’s bar mitzva. The music started, and she slipped and fell—twice. Succeeding on her third attempt, “I realized I was probably the little girl who was going to make it.”

Anna Halprin

Anna Halprin is one of the founders of the American avant-garde in modern dance. Beginning with her work in the late 1950s and early 1960s, she radically expanded the ideas of what could constitute a dance, what kind of personal material was permissible as content in a dance work, and how to give voice to forgotten segments of the population—people of color, the aged, the terminally ill.

Elsa Zylberstein

Appearing in more than three films a year, Zylberstein is certainly one of the most sought-after young French actors. Throughout, Elsa Zylberstein has also enjoyed a successful career in the theater, appearing in plays by Pirandello and Anouilh as well as in adaptations of successful American playwrights.

Ruth Ziv-Ayal

Ruth Ziv-Ayal (Sprung), a director and choreographer, is one of the most significant figures in Israeli movement theater. She was the first to choreograph in this style, beginning in the first half of the 1970s.

Yaffa Yarkoni

During the 1950s Yarkoni was considered Israel’s leading singer, recording numerous records.

Berta Yampolsky

Berta Yampolsky's story is the story of the Israel Ballet, which began from nothing in a country where modern dance ruled. She was the Ballet's founder and now serves as its artistic director.

Cilli Wang

From childhood, Cilli Wang was known as the “Pavlova of Parody” for her experimentation with movement based on spoken word. Even when the Anschluss forced her to flee her home country of Austria, she continued developing dance and speech performances in the Netherlands.

Margarethe Wallmann

Although trained in classical ballet, Margarethe Wallmann chose to study and teach Middle-European Expressionist dance. She continued to create award-winning works that explored Austrian culture until Nazi occupation ousted her from her position and she was forced to Buenos Aires and later Milan, where she continued to create acclaimed ballet and opera productions.

Rivka Sturman

Rivka Sturman was a pioneer in creating Israeli folk dance and established the style and character of the genre. Her goal was to culturally unite the immigrants who had come to Palestine but had retained the dances of their old nations. For forty years she choreographed the development of Israeli folk dance and spearheaded programs to help it become a part of Israel’s national identity.

Phyllis Spira

As a sixteen-year-old ballet dancer at the Royal Ballet School in London, Phyllis Spira was hailed as a future Alicia Markova. On the brink of a successful career abroad, however, she elected to return to her home in South Africa where for many years she came to occupy center stage as South Africa’s prima ballerina.

Eva Sopher

The first known cultural entrepreneur in southern Brazil, German-born Eva Sopher has fostered music, dance, and especially theater in Porto Alegre and its environs for over forty years.

Mirali Sharon

Mirali Sharon, whose work has been performed in Israel and at prestigious festivals abroad, is one of Israel’s major choreographers of the 1970s and 1980s. She belongs to the first generation of native Israeli choreographers, who sought to create contemporary dance with an Israeli character, collaborating with contemporary Israeli artists in music, literature, architecture and the plastic arts.

Subscribe to Dance


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

Can We Talk?

listen now

Get JWA in your inbox