Bella Lewitzky (left) and Sondra Orans in Lester Horton and Bella Lewitzky’s work Warsaw Ghetto, 1949 (Photo by Constantine)
(Albuquerque, NM) – Pre-professional students and guests alike will experience a close-up living history lesson with the original set pieces from Lester Horton and Bella Lewitzky’s co-creation Warsaw Ghetto (1949), which featured dancer Bella Lewitzky, now hanging in the studio named for Lewitzky at Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts.
Lester Horton gifted the set pieces (canvas drops) to Bella Lewitzky and they came into the care of Diana MacNeil when she purchased Bella Lewitzky’s home in Los Angeles. Diana MacNeil, part of Keshet’s Teaching Faculty since 2017, was at the dedication to tell the story behind this iconic set pieces, now residing in the Lewitzky Studio (one of five dance studios at Keshet Center for the Arts).
“We are so blessed to have Diana MacNeil as part of our Teaching Faculty here at Keshet,” said Sarah Gonzales, Keshet Pre-Professional Education Director and Dance Historian. “As a dancer who worked directly with Bella Lewitzky and her groundbreaking technique, Diana brings experience, valuable perspective, and knowledge unlike that of anyone else. Warsaw Ghetto was a modern dance work with pungent social commentary, in which Lester Horton addressed the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II. Because Diana has brought these invaluable set pieces to Keshet, we are able to have conversations about the intersection of dance and social commentary while bringing dance history to life for the next generation of dancers.”
Keshet Company members (pictured: L-R) Elysia Pope and Ana Lopes Arechiga with the Lewitzky Dance Company suitcase housing the canvas drops (photo Carolyn Tobias)
“When I recently unraveled the canvas drops, I was reminded of the social-minded works of Lester Horton, and the execution through the exceptional Bella Lewitzky, both champions of human rights and and it felt fitting that my new home of Albuquerque, and specifically, Keshet Center for the Arts share this history,” Diana MacNeil said.
The dance piece, Warsaw Ghetto was last performed in 1950 and because Lester Horton did not notate his process or choreography it was never re-mounted or duplicated.
About Diana MacNeil:
Diana MacNeil is a choreographer and teacher dedicated to the movement arts. Her work over the last four decades has included initiating roles at the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts and the Lewitzky Dance Company. The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Loyola Marymount University, Occidental College, The Cerritos Center for the Arts and the Yorke Dance Project, among others, have commissioned her choreography and her credits include educational projects from elementary to post-graduate levels at home and abroad. She founded the PostHouse Dance Group in Los Angeles which has performed to critical acclaim. In 2017, Diana relocated to Albuquerque to further her work with Keshet Dance & Center for the Arts.
Established in 1996, Keshet’s mission is to inspire and unite community by fostering unlimited possibilities through dance, mentorship and a creative space for the arts. In 2013, the Keshet Center for the Arts was created as a home base for Keshet’s production season and as a resource for Keshet’s national and global performing arts partnerships; a welcoming space to house Keshet’s community education and engagement programming; and the central location for the Keshet Ideas and Innovation Community (KIIC), a business incubator and resource center for arts entrepreneurs.