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Inbal Dance Theatre Company photographs


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Inbal Dance Theatre Company was started in 1949 by Sara Levi-Tanai (1911-2005) in Israel in order to explore cultural roots and Yeminite theater. Originally called "Sara Levi's Eastern Troupe," the group was made up of a number of amateur dancers including Margalit Oved, Racheli Ovadia, Rachel Tzai'ri, Chana Minezli, Yehuda Cohen, Yaakov Barzilai, and Meir Ovadia. Within a short period of time, the name of the group was changed to Inbal, and the dancers became professional. While Levi-Tanai "began Inbal exclusively with Yemenite dancers, [she] ultimately included in her choreography Jewish folkloric materials from the range of Israel's subcultures, including the Yemenite, Moroccan, Kurdish, Persian, Hasidic, and Arab," (Bush). In 1951, the group was recognized by Jerome Robbins, an American choreographer visiting Israel on behalf of the Norman Fund (now the America-Israel Culture Foundation) to identify dance troupes to tour the United States.

In 1957, the Inbal Dance Theatre Company toured Europe and North America for eight months with great success, but the international tours which were necessary for financial stability made development of new material difficult and also resulted in less recognition in Israel. The Company struggled when the Israel Ballet and the Batsheva Dance Companies were founded in 1964 and as a result of nearly annual directorial turn-over following Levi-Tanai's dismissal as artistic director in 1991. After her departure, leaders included Rina Sharrett, Margalit Oved, Ilana Cohen, and Dr. Razi Amitai. In 2014, Barak Marshall (son of Margalit Oved) was appointed artistic director. Inbal became part of the Inbal Interdisciplinary Ethnic Center and found a home as part of the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre.

The Inbal Dance Theatre Company received numerous awards including an award for best choreography at the 1962 Les Halles International Choreography Competition in Paris; and 1973, Levi-Tanai earned the Israel Prize. According to the New York Times, "Inbal caused a sensation on its early tours in Europe and in the United States largely because the Yemenite rituals and folk customs Ms. Levi-Tanai theatricalized so vibrantly were a revelation to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences in the West." (Kisselgoff)

Works consulted:

Bush, Lawrence. "October 3: Sara Levi-Tania and Inbal" in Jewish Currents, 2012 October 3

Dori, Roni. "the Woman Who was Inbal," in Israel News, 2009 July 9

Ingber, Judith Brin. "Sara Levi-Tania: Turning My Dance Assumptions Upside Down" (

Ingber, Judith Brin (editor). Seeing Israel and Jewish Dance. Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2011.

Kisselgoff, Anna. "Sara Levi-Tanai, founder of an Israeli Dance Troupe, Dies at 94" in New York Times, 2005 October 5

This collection consists of photographic prints of eight dances performed by the Inbal Dance Theatre Company, during the 1950s. Folder titles are based upon the very limited annotations on the back of photographs (many of which are in Hebrew) and no specific dates are recorded. Many of the photographs appear to have been taken in association with the America-Isreael Cultural Foundation.

On occasion, the back of a photograph includes a stamp of the name of the dancer, most frequently Margalith (also known as Margalit) Oved, Zion Nurel, and Dahlia Kubani. Dances are arranged alphabetically.

Sold by Kedem Auction House (Lot 120), 2018.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2022 January 27
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Desert, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 1
Ladies, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 2
Peaceful Sabbath, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 3
Queen of Shebah, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 4
Shepherd's Dance, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 5
Song of Deborah, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 6
Song of the Jar, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 7
Yemonite Wedding, circa 1950s.
Box 1 Folder 8

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