Anna Sokolow


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(b Hartford, Conn., 9 Feb. 1910; d New York, 29 Mar. 2000)

US dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She studied with various teachers including Graham and Horst and at the New York Metropolitan Opera Ballet School, leaving home at 15 to join Graham's company with which she danced until 1938. In 1934 she formed the first of several temporary companies which performed until the late 1960s. From the beginning her work dealt with social issues, for instance in Slaughter of the Innocents (mus. Alex North, 1934), and throughout her career she remained uncompromising both in her choice of subject-matter, such as the Spanish Civil War and the Holocaust, and in the bleak realism of her handling of themes such as urban alienation. In 1939 she began working as a choreographer and teacher in Mexico City where she founded the first Mexican modern dance company, La Paloma Azul. She frequently returned there and created some of her most important works, including Lyric Suite (mus. Berg, 1953) and Dreams (mus. Bach and Webern, 1961). She stopped dancing in 1954 but continued choreographing, mostly for her own company in the US, including Rooms (mus. Hopkins, 1955) and Steps of Silence (mus. Vieru, 1968). She also worked in opera and musicals, choreographing Candide (1956) and the off-Broadway production of Hair—she is credited with much of its staging though her name was excised from the credits. She occasionally choreographed for other dance companies including Nederlands Dans Theater (The Seven Deadly Sins, mus. Weill, 1967), Ballet Rambert (Deserts, mus. Varèse, 1967), and Batsheva Dance Company (In memoriam No. 52436, mus. Baird, 1973). For many years she taught at the Juilliard.

Subjects: Dance.

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