The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
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Information: Rivka Sturman, choreographer, teacher, and author of books about Israeli dance.
Rivka was born in Europe and arrived in Palestine in 1929 with her husband. She lived at Kfar Yehezkel then moved to Ein Charod where she began to teach dance. She had observed that children were being taught German songs in kindegarten and decided it was important for local children to have songs and dances that reflected the culture of their own country.
Later, she joined the newly formed organization sponsored by the Histadrut, which concerned itself with creating folk dances. Rivka's background in modern dance helped her in her approach to folk dance choreography and, very soon, she was considered one of the most prolific and successful folk dance choreographers of Israeli dances.
Many of Rivka's dances started appearing in print, in Hebrew as well as in English. She also made many recordings of her own dances. From 1942 to 1983, she created, taught, and performed more than 90 dances. A large amount of these are still being taught and danced today they are classics. She also choreographed many performance dances.
She began staging holiday festivals in which she included almost all members of her Kibbutz. She also began to travel extensively, touring Europe many times, as well as making four visits to the United States. Wherever she went, she would teach dance classes and workshops, spreading interest in Israeli folk dance. She was the first Israeli fok dance teacher at the University of Alaska, for instance, and was on the staff of the Santa Barbara Folk Dance Conference and the Stockton Folk Dance Camp.
At her Kibbutz, a tribute party was held in Rivka's honor in regognition of her life's work and dedication to Israeli folk dance. The evening concluded with about two hundred dancers in a Ronda (Grand March), led by the dean of Israeli folk dance, Gurit Kadman.
Rifka died in January, 2001, at the age of 98. A tribute section in honor of Rivka has been set up at the Dance Library of Israel in Tel Aviv that includes donated materials from her collection as well as contributions. She pioneered the dance step technique and the cultural ties that became the core of Israeli dance today.
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