Levi-Agron, Hassia

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LEVI-AGRON, HASSIA (1925–2001), dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Levi-Agron was born in Jerusalem, the descendant of a family living in the country for seven generations. She studied movement and dance with Shoshana Orenstein (1936–46) and Elsa *Dublon, and participated in Gertrud *Kraus' courses. She also enrolled in a teacher's seminar and studied painting, sculpture, and music.

Levi-Agron appeared as soloist before British soldiers and the *Haganah (1943–46). In 1946 she staged her first solo recital, and a year later she produced Maḥol Niv ("Dance Idiom"), a show combining dance, music, and text reading. The themes of her works derived from the Bible, from Israeli writers and poets, and from daily life in Israel. In 1947 she traveled to the U.S., where she studied with Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Louis Horst, and Pearl Primus, and appeared with the East-West Association headed by Pearl Buck. During the 1950s Levi-Agron appeared before World War ii refugees under the patronage of the Joint. During the 1950s she taught dance to blind and disabled children, and initiated the creation of the dance department in the newly established Jerusalem Conservatory of Music directed by Yocheved Ostrovsky-Coupernic.

In 1958 she invited Martha Graham to teach in a summer course in Jerusalem and in 1960 she founded the dance department in the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music and Dance, which was recognized academically by the Higher Education Authority in 1976. She became professor in 1978. In 1993 she founded Keresh Kefitzah ("Springboard"), a dance company featuring students of the dance department of the Rubin Academy. In 1998 she was awarded the Israel Prize.

Hassia Levi-Agron perceived dance as a tool for life, a form of expression that should be available to every person, therefore she engaged in activities designed to make dance available to all people at all ages, regardless of their professional level, arguing that each student should gain something from his or her dancing experience.

[Bina Shiloah (2nd ed.)]