About Anna Sokolow, Choreographer

Anna Sokolow contributed to the world of modern dance for nearly seven decades. She continued to shape contemporary dance with ground-breaking choreography up until her death in March, 2000 at the age of ninety.

Known as one of the most dynamic and uncompromising of the modern dance choreographers, Sokolow began her career as a dancer with Martha Graham. In the early thirties, she studied choreography with Louis Horst at the Neighborhood Playhouse, and she quickly became his assistant and his most outstanding composition student.

Sokolow has had a profound effect on the course of modern dance throughout the world. In addition to choreographing for her own renowned New York company, Players' Project, her works are in the repertories of Ballet Independiente, Bat-Dor, Berlin Ballet, London Contemporary Dance Theatre, Netherlands Dance Theatre, and the Royal Winnepeg Ballet. She has also had a direct influence on such artists as Alvin Ailey, Pina Bausch, and Martha Clarke.

But one can not describe the remarkable career of Anna Sokolow without mentioning her contributions to the theater. Her choreography for the Broadway stage includes Street Scene (1947), Regina (1949), and Candide (1956); and in 1967, she created the original dances for the Off-Broadway production of Hair.

She also taught movement for actors at The Actors Studio (where she was a founding member), the Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre School, and the HB Studio. Among her students were Richard Boone, Faye Dunaway, Julie Harris, Eva-Marie Saint, Jean Stapleton, and Eli Wallach.

As a teacher of modern dance, Ms. Sokolow has covered much ground, from The Juilliard School and the 92nd Street "Y" in New York City to the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. She has taught in many colleges and universities across America, including Bennington, Ohio State, Radcliffe, Smith, and Sarah Lawrence.

Anna Sokolow created a body of work that blends modern dance and music with theater, poetry, and prose. Called "the Solzhenitsyn of twentieth-century dance," she consistently and uncompromisingly reflects the reality of society through her work. Anna Sokolow's choreography speaks of and to the times.

Ellen Freed

 

(image: Anna Sokolow in Slaughter of the Innocents, 1937)