October 3, 2005
Sarah Levy-Tanai, one of Israel’s foremost choreographers and contributors to Israeli cultural life passes away at the age of 95. Sarah was born in Jerusalem in 1910 or 1911 (She was never sure of her exact birth date) to Yemenite parents. During a typhus epidemic during World War I, all of her family died except for her and her father. Her father was too poor to care for her and she was placed in an orphanage, eventually being moved to a children’s home in Meir Shefeyah (located near Zichron Yaakov). The children’s home was run by Ashkenazi immigrants who exposed her and the other children to European music and art.
Sarah Levy-Tanai began producing small plays and later became a kindergarten teacher where she composed songs and dances for her students. During World War II, while her husband was fighting in the Jewish Brigade, she moved to Kibbutz Ramat Hakovesh where she encountered many of the leading women of the Israeli folk dance movement. After the influx of Yemeni Jews to Israel between 1948-1950, she began to seek out her own roots and incorporate Mizrahi and Sephardi culture into her art. In 1949, she founded the Inbal Dance Theater which she directed until the 1990’s. In 1973 she received the Israel Prize in Art, Music and Dance.
Read about Sarah Levy-Tanai at the Jewish Women’s Archive