Oved, Margalit

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OVED, MARGALIT (1937– ), dancer, choreographer, singer, composer, and teacher. She was born in the British Protectorate of Aden to a pearl merchant father and a midwife mother. The Yemenite-Jewish traditions and the hundreds of multicultural Adenite songs she absorbed in her childhood played an important role in her work. Oved came to Israel in 1949 with the "Magic Carpet" airlift. She began working with Sara *Levi-Tanai in 1950 as an original member of the Inbal Dance Company, and studied with choreographers Jerome *Robbins and Sophie *Maslow. With astonishing dramatic and vocal resources, gesture mastery, drumming, and charismatic presence, she was Inbal's leading performer for 15 years, including its 1957 world tour.

In 1965, Oved married American-Jewish businessman Mel Marshall, and moved to Los Angeles where she taught Yemenite dance and choreographed at ucla for 22 years. Oved's innovative approach to modern dance theater used folk traditions as well as other sources of inspiration. She drew from desert imagery (Landscape, 1968), Jewish heritage (David and Goliath, 1968; In the Beginning, 1970), and Western sources (Cinderella, 1972; The Birds, after Aristophanes, 1986), and the music of Debussy and Liszt. In her work, she often utilized live or recorded multitrack sung-spoken-drummed compositions.

Oved received a travel and teaching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in the early 1970s. In 1982 her company toured Israel and in 1988 she performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, d.c., for the 40th anniversary of Israel's statehood. She returned to Inbal as its director in 1994 and in 1996 she performed with her son's critically acclaimed Israeli dance company, the Barak Marshall Dance Company. Oved created over 45 choreographies and Israeli folkdances, and recorded 22 musical compositions. She starred in the first Israeli-produced film, Hill 24 Doesn't Answer (1955), and was the subject of the 1968 American film documentary Gestures of Sand. Her honors include a 1973 Hadassah Myrtle Wreath Award and the 1998 French adami Award for outstanding performance at the Bagnolet Festival.


S. Levi-Tanai, "A Personal Testimony," in: Be-Regel Yeḥefah (Barefooted: Jewish-Yemenite Tradition in Israeli Dance), ed. N. Bahat-Ratzon (Tel Aviv, 1999); A. Fuller Snyder, producer/director, Gestures of Sand. In association with the Department of Dance and Academic Communications Faculty, University of California, Los Angeles, 196; 15 minutes.

[Karen Goodman (2nd ed.)]