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).
Subtitle:
A Life in Motion
Topic:
Dance
Interviewer:
Smith, Richard Candida
Interviewee:
Lewitzky, Bella
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Abstract:
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.