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Hasidic-Afro-Caribbean Fusion

This week’s Shivah Star is dancer Frances Alenikoff

by
Marc Tracy
July 12, 2012
Frances Alenikoff dancing in 1998 (in her 70s!).(Beryl Bernay/NYT)

Frances Alenikoff dancing in 1998 (in her 70s!).(Beryl Bernay/NYT)

Each week, we select the most interesting Jewish obituary. This week, it’s that of Frances Alenikoff, who died last month at 91. Her first company was called Aviv, and it was almost a parody of fusion (except it apparently worked) in its “Israeli, Hasidic, Russian and Afro-Caribbean” influences; reflecting her dance’s heterodox heritage, she performed everywhere from black schools in the South to the 92nd Street Y. She was also a pioneer in incorporating different media into her performances. Below: the trailer to the 1978 documentary about her, Shaping Things.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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