Stories are among our most potent tools. We need to unearth old stories that live in a place and begin to create new ones. We are story makers, not just story tellers. All stories are connected, new ones woven from threads of the old. (Paraphrased – Robin Wall Kimmerer)

Join ARENA DANCES every Thursday lunch break for new podcasts, hosted by Artistic Director ARENA DANCES and Company Dancer Joe Crook. This series will share the histories of notable Twin Cities dance artists and the evolution of the industry’s landscape through time. Each week will feature a new guest of honor, sharing their story and impact on this gem of an arts town.

This week’s special guest: Judith Brin Ingber

Judith’s history in the dance field is both impressive and impactful. A Minneapolis native, Judith grew up training with Lillian Vai before moving to New York to study at Sarah Lawrence College, and the studios of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. During that time she also began writing about dance, as the editorial assistant at Dance Magazine. With a multifaceted career in dance, Judith has since split time between Minneapolis and Israel. She conceived Choroegrapher’s Evening and was the first director of the dance program of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. She taught apprentices of the two modern dance companies at the Batsheva Bat Dor Dance Society and choreographed a program for young audiences for the Batsheva Dance Company. Today, she continues to research, lecture and teach…and dance!

Next Episode – Airing at NOON on July 9th on this Page
Studio Stories with April Sellers

More about today’s special guest –

Judith combines a rare articulate sensibility in dance and in writing, specializing in Jewish dance. Her career has been documented in the Performing Arts Archives of the Special Collections of the University of Minnesota and in the Dance Library of Israel.

The papers she donated to the Dance Library of Israel cover her work for the Batsheva-Bat Dor Dance Society from 1972-1977, letters with Sara Levi-Tanai, Yardena Cohen, Rivka Sturman, and Felix Fibich as well as drafts of her “Dance Perspectives issue called ‘Shorashim: The Roots of Israeli Folk Dance'” published in 1974.

She grew up in Minneapolis and began her dance training with Lillian Vail. Her beloved ballet teachers were Lorand and Anna Andahazy, de Basil Ballet Russe dancers who settled in Minnesota. With them she had her first experience performing in their Ballet Borealis on the famed Northrop stage at the University of MN in “Scheherazade” accompanied by Antol Dorati conducting the Minneapolis Symphony.

To broaden her education she moved to New York where she studied dance (and earned her bachelor’s degree) at Sarah Lawrence College. There she was a student of the famed dance composition teacher Bessie Schanberg. In New York she also studied at the Martha Graham Studio, with Margy Jenkins and at the Merce Cunningham Studio, performed with Meredith Monk and Anne Wilson, taught children with Marilyn Wood at Downtown Community School and worked as the editorial assistant at Dance Magazine for Lydia Joel and Doris Hering from 1967-1969.

When Judith returned to Mpls in 1970 she was assistant to programmer Suzanne Weil at Walker Art Center (before the words Performing Arts Curator came into use). Judith proposed a new program: that she search out young MN choreographers to participate in a new dance concert to be produced by Weil at Walker, known for presenting nationally famous modern dancers including Merce Cunningham and Twyla Tharp (Tharp’s dance “Sue’s Leg” was an ode to Suzanne Weil’s unique residencies enabling choreographers to spend extended time at Walker to create new dances and to teach). Judith’s program was a huge success and the AceYoung Choreographers Evening surprisingly sold out with such an overflow that Weil decided to on the spot to hold a second performance that night. Walker has continued to produce the highly successful program for more than 45 years, now called the Choreographers Evening. Presented annually during the Thanksgiving weekend, still with its signature 7PM and 9PM times, countless MN choreographers have gotten their start through Judith’s invention, the Choreographers Evening.

She lived in Israel from 1972-1977. During that time she taught apprentices of the two modern dance companies at the Batsheva Bat Dor Dance Society and choreographed a program for young audiences for the Batsheva Dance Company. The program was filmed for Israeli television and ran often in the ’70s. Some of the company dancers in her program included Laurie Freedman and Zvi Gutheiner. Judith also served as the assistant to the founder/director of Inbal Dance Theatre, Sara Levi-Tanai. Judith co-founded the first Israeli dance magazine, the Israel Dance Annual with Giora Manor. She continues to return often to Israel to research, lecture and teach.

When she returned to Minneapolis, Judith was the first director of the dance program of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. She taught dance history for twenty years there and now guests there and in the University’s School of Journalism. She frequently teaches when on tour with her book or dance programs including several summers in England at Machol Europa (see United Kingdom Israeli Dance Institute), twice for Jacek Luminsky’s international dance festival in Bytom, Poland, and often in Israel (in December 2011 she taught at the Western Galilee College theatre program in Akko, at the international year abroad program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Orot College for women in their dance program). She also enjoys leading groups in traditional dances for b’nai mitzvoth parties (bat mitzvah or bar mitzvah) and wedding celebrations.

She has continued her ballet training with Bonnie Mathis and Lirena Branitsky and takes company class with the James Sewell Ballet, Alexander Technique with Elizabeth Garren, Pilates (she began under the renowned Carola Trier in New York and especially appreciates studying with Susan Salk and Ney Forseca when in California). She continues her yoga practice with Kevin Kortan. She also continues to choreograph, collaborate with her longtime arts partner David Harris and other artists, and create new programming.

Judith frequently returns to Israel. From Judith’s recent Tel Aviv trip, doing research on “Broucci” and seeing dance rehearsals for Inbal Dance Co. and for Oren Laor and Niv Sheinfeld’s new works.

Glossary and Additional Resources

Missed last week’s episode? You can find all our previous interviews here!