It’s not surprising that as I shifted my focus from ballet to modern dance and began researching both in the U.S. and Israel, I repeatedly came across Ze’eva Cohen’s name. Cohen started her illustrious dancing career in her native Tel Aviv, performing with Bimat Machol and Anna Sokolow’s Lyric Theatre. In 1963, she moved to New York where she studied at Juilliard and appeared as a soloist in Sokolow’s American troupe. A founding member of Dance Theater Workshop, now one of the most prominent institutions in New York’s downtown scene, Cohen launched her solo dance repertory program in 1971; during the next twelve years, she toured the globe, performing not only her own compositions but those of more than twenty artists. She expanded to a group format in 1983 with the establishment of Ze’eva Cohen and Dancers, and she was also invited to work internationally as a guest choreographer, at times returning to Israel for engagements with the Batsheva Dance Company and Inbal Dance Theater. Besides enthralling audiences as a performer and choreographer, Cohen became a pioneering dance educator, creating and directing the dance program at Princeton University.
After years of reading about Cohen’s achievements, I finally met the artist in person last month during the conference Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Dance. Introducing a video of her duet Negotiations (2000) for the opening session and later delivering an inspiring, insightful reflection on the Jewish and Israeli aspects of her work, Cohen proved to be as compelling at the lectern as on the stage.
This initial encounter piqued my interest even further, and now I – along with local dance enthusiasts – can look forward to an evening with the artist at the Dance Library of Israel on Thursday, March 10. In a program starting at 8:00 p.m., Cohen will show video and discuss her work as a dancer, choreographer, and founder of Princeton University’s dance program. Places are limited, and spots can be reserved by contacting the library at [email protected]
The Dance Library of Israel is part of the Beit Ariela library on Shaul Hamelech 25 in Tel Aviv. Doors open for the program at 7:30 p.m.
Can’t make it to the library on Thursday? Get a glimpse of Cohen’s talent in the video excerpt below:
Video: Ze’eva Cohen and Aleta Hayes in Cohen’s Negotiations