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Anna Sokolow dancing Kaddish


 

       

k a d d i s h

 
 

Anna Sokolow

   

 

Tomorrow night, a historic restaging of Anna Solokow’s Kaddish, created in 1945, takes place at the 92nd Street Y.

 

The story goes that when Anna Sokolow was a child growing up on the Jewish Lower East Side, modern dance was considered so risqué that her mother locked her in the bathroom when she declared her intention of becoming a modern dancer.  Undaunted, and displaying the fiery spirit that marked her character throughout her long career as a choreographer, Sokolow is said to have escaped through a window.  She danced for Martha Graham through much of the 1930’s and later choreographed her own work for almost half a century.  Sokolow was a pioneer of contemporary dance, challenging societal, religious, and gender conventions —  using dance to express ideas and to challenge, as well as creating lovely, sensual pieces such as Prelude and Rooms.

 

Sokolow choreographed the haunting solo Kaddish in 1945, set to the beautiful melancholy violin of Maurice Ravel's piece of the same name, one of his two mélodies hébraïques.   Kaddish, created just after the Holocaust, is a song of lament; its power lies in its immense dignity as its draws one into its hypnotic spell.  Sokolow beat her breast, fell to the floor, looked upwards as if imploring the heavens, depicting not only loss but courage and strength as well.  Sokolow appeared on stage wearing a black strap wrapped around her arm to symbolize the tefillin used in traditional Jewish prayer rituals which women are forbidden to wear -- a rare artist capable of simultaneously honoring a centuries-old tradition and challenging it with aesthetic subtlety.

 

Tomorrow, on Friday, December 11th at 8pm, Sokolow Theatre Dance Ensemble member Lauren Naslund will recreate Kaddish at the 92nd Street Y as part of a program that also includes Jannis Brenner presenting choreography by Meredith Monk, Wendy Osserman, and Jody Oberfelder. Sokolow passed away in 2000 at the age of 90.

  

 

See: Kaddish at the 92nd Street Y

 

Listen: Maurice Ravel, Kaddish and other Violin Sonatas

 

 


 

 

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