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Synthesis in Motion

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The Dance Theatre Work of Benjamin Zemach in Los Angeles

This paper discusses the importance of Russian-born choreographer, theatre director, and teacher Benjamin Zemach (1901-1997) to Los Angeles. It contextualizes the sustained influences of his Jewish heritage, his training with Stanislavsky and Vakhtangov in the Habima Theatre, Russian dance and theatre synthesis and early American modern dance. The article focuses on his work in Los Angeles during two different periods of American culture and politics preceding and following World War ii (1931-35 and 1946-71), examining closely his contributions to Los Angeles Jewish and mainstream dance and theatre through an analysis of his choreographies for the stage and film as well as his teaching methodologies.

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