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Performing Arts Archival Collections in USC Special Collections: Dance collections

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Lewitzky Dance Company records


Bella Lewitzky was born January 13, 1916, in Los Angeles to Russian immigrants. She spent her early childhood in a utopian socialist community in the Mojave Desert before moving with her family to Los Angeles. In 1934, she joined Lester Horton's modern dance company. She rapidly ascended the ranks of Horton's company from novice dancer to lead dancer. On June 22, 1940, she married fellow Horton dancer and architect Newell Reynolds. In 1946, she and Horton founded the Dance Theater of Los Angeles.

In 1955, Lewitzky gave birth to her and Reynolds' only daughter, Nora, who would also dance for the Lewitzky Dance Company (founded in 1966). Over the next 31 years, the Company produced over 50 dances and toured extensively throughout North America and the world. Lewitzky herself danced in many of the company's productions until she stopped dancing professionally in 1978.

In 1989, she was awarded the California Governor's Award for Lifetime Acheivement; in 1996, she was named a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts' National Medal of Arts. Lewitzky was also actively involved in the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival and the efforts to build a venue called The Dance Gallery in downtown Los Angeles.  Lewitzky passed away on July 16, 2004 in Pasadena, California.

Collection overview

The Lewitzky Dance Company Records collection contains photographs, audio and video recordings, costumes, and documents from the roughly 50-year period of activity of the Lewitzky Dance Company. Sound and video recordings and photographs document the hundreds of performances, rehearsals, and demonstrations. There is also a large collection of programs and posters from the Company's productions, booking contracts, internal documents, financial statements, press clippings, and correspondences. Some parts of the collection relate to Lewitzky's personal life and professional activity outside of the Company, including the Olympic Arts Festival and The Dance Gallery. Also included in this collection are Lewitzky's personal papers and papers produced and/or donated after the dissolution of the company in 1997.

Rudy Perez Archive


Rudy Perez was born in Spanish Harlem and attended New York's High School of Music and Arts, where he studied piano and voice.  After graduating, he studied under Martha Graham, Mary Anthony, and Merce Cunningham, and was a frequent performer at the Judson Dance Theatre.  Perez founded the Rudy Perez Dance Theatre in 1967.  From 1968-1978 Perez held the position of artist-in-residence at Mary Mount Manhattan College and trained as a dance therapist.  During this period, Perez's works started to take on a larger scale and he began using the term "performance art" to describe them and his company toured throughout the United States, Germany, and Canada.

In 1978, Perez took a position as a substitute teacher on the faculty of UCLA's Dance Department and moved permanently to the West Coast in 1979.  Since moving to Los Angeles, he has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowships, the prestigious Irvine Fellowship in Dance, The Pasadena Arts Commission Grant, and Lester Horton Awards for Performance (1992) and Teaching (1997).  The Los Angeles Music Center/Bilingual Foundation honored him in 1992 with the !Viva Los Artistas! Performing Arts Award for distinguished Latino artists.  Perez was also on the dance faculty at Los Angeles High School for the Arts for ten years (1992-2002) and continues to teach classes at the West Side Academy of Dance in Santa Monica.

Collection overview

The Rudy Perez Archive documents the career of Rudy Perez and includes correspondence, ephemera, programs, photographs, costumes, props, film and audio recordings and awards. 

Grell/Colefax Russian Ballet Archive

Collection overview

Consists of films, books, photographs, sound recordings, posters, costumes, and artwork related to Russian ballet, chiefly the Bolshoi Ballet Company. Collected by Los Angeles resident Dwight Grell from the early 1950s to today. Many of the materials are in Russian.