Oral Histories

Interview of Bella Lewitzky

Dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Founder of the Lewitzky Dance Company. Founding dean of the dance program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
A Life in Motion
Interviews not in a series, part one
Biographical Note:
Dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Founder of the Lewitzky Dance Company. Founding dean of the dance program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
Smith, Richard Candida
Lewitzky, Bella
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Childhood in Southern California; Llano Cooperative Colony; father's passion for painting; develops an interest in dance; moves to Los Angeles during the Great Depression; living in a multiracial community; childhood acquaintance with Gregory Ain; studies dance with Lester Horton at the Norma Gould Studio; Horton's training exercises; Horton's choreography, costuming, and staging; ethnic themes in Horton's works; dances in an Agnes de Mille production; the Works Progress Administration's Federal Theatre Dance Project; social reform themes in Horton's works; the interface of art and politics; marries Newell T. Reynolds and moves to Chicago; returns to Los Angeles and founds the Horton Dance Theater; leaves Horton and founds Dance Associates with Carl Ratcliff and Marge Berman; subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities; Lewitzky's political activism; experiences ostracism and anti-Semitism; teaches at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts; developing a personal choreographic style; creates training exercises after a career-threatening injury; birth of daughter, Nora E. Reynolds; develops a style of teaching dance; experimental schools in Southern California; Newell Reynolds's interest in dance and his architectural designs for sets; founds the Lewitzky Dance Company; running a dance company; joins the faculty of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts); political turmoil at CalArts; the place of dance at UCLA and the University of Southern California; the feminist movement's impact on the dance world; the Women's Building; gender and dance; origins of the Lewitzky Dance Foundation and the Dance Gallery; the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Dance Touring Program; serves on national, state, and local cultural panels; protests NEA restrictions on artistic freedom; the funding of dance in the United States; Dorothy Buffum Chandler and the Music Center of Los Angeles County; the impact of AIDS on the dance community; the relationship of dance to music and painting; evolution of dance and dance criticism in Southern California; the dancers in Lewitzky's troupes; the dances Lewitzky created; major figures in twentieth-century dance: Hanya Holm, Anna Sokolow, Merce Cunningham, Anna Halprin, and Twyla Tharp.