Research Update: US Reception to Inbal Dance Theater in the 1950s and 1960s

By Hannah Kosstrin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Dance, The Ohio State University

Additional Affiliations: Melton Center for Jewish Studies; Center for Slavic and East European Studies; Migration, Mobility, and Immobility Discovery Theme Working Group

I was honored to be awarded a 2017–2018 Global Mobility Project Faculty Grant for travel to archives to support research examining the cultural implications for dance circulating through the mid-century touring network of impresario Sol Hurok. Specifically, I focused on how US reception to the Yemenite-Israeli company Inbal Dance Theater from 1958 to 1969 underscored Ashkenazi American Jewish assimilation through dance spectatorship and mobile perceptions of Jewishness.

Between June 2017 and March 2018 I traveled to New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles to conduct research in archives that held materials related to Inbal and its 1950s–1960s tours. I also interviewed dancers who toured with the company and their relatives about Inbal members’ experiences on those tours. In New York, I worked in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the New York Public Library Dorot Jewish Division, and the Center for Jewish History Special Collections. In Boston, I worked in the Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard Judaica Collection, the Schlesinger Library, and the Boston Public Library. In Chicago, I worked in the Modern Manuscripts Collections at the Newberry Library. In Los Angeles, I worked in Special Collections at the University of California, Los Angeles, and with dance historian Karen Goodman, who generously shared materials with me.

As with any productive research endeavor, I came out of these trips with different questions than when I went in. As a result, I am working on two article manuscripts from this project. I am currently completing one article draft manuscript about how American Jewish acculturation was implicated in the US reception of Inbal’s 1950s–1960s tours. The other article, which pursues the local and transnational cultural effects of these tours, takes the material in a new direction that I hope will form the basis of my second book.

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