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Interview with Anna Sokolow,1974-1975

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Interview with Anna Sokolow,1974-1975
Sokolow, Anna (Interviewee)
Newman, Barbara, 1944- (Interviewer)

Dance Oral History Project

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1974-12-02 - 1975-05-11
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZTO 5-891
Horst, Louis
Sokolow, Anna
Neighborhood Playhouse (New York, N.Y.)
Rooms (Choreographic work : Sokolow)
Lyric suite (Choreographic work : Sokolow)
Strange American funeral (Choreographic work : Sokolow)
Excerpts from a war poem (Choreographic work : Sokolow)
Déserts (Choreographic work : Sokolow)
Dance -- Social aspects
Dance -- Political aspects
Oral histories
Content: For transcript of interview, see: *MGZMT 3-891.
Content: Interview with Anna Sokolow conducted by Barbara Newman for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division Oral History Project, in New York (N.Y.).
Content: Sound quality is good overall. The recording is marred by occasional extraneous noise and "tape hiss."
Funding: The processing and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Content: Title supplied by cataloger.
Venue: Recorded for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division Oral History Project December 2 and 12, 1974 and May 11, 1975 New York (N.Y.)
Physical Description
Audiotape reel
Extent: 3 audiotape reels (approximately 3 hours and 38 minutes) : analog, half-track, 1.875 ips, polyester ; 5 in.
Streaming audio file 1, December 2, 1975 (approximately 4 minutes). Anna Sokolow speaks with Barbara Newman about having always wanted to be a dancer; her first experience with dance, as a child taking classes at a settlement house [Emmanuel Sisterhood of Personal Service]; her dislike of school and dropping out of high school; being sent to the Neighborhood Playhouse to pursue her dance training [ends abruptly]. Streaming audio file 2 (approximately 52 minutes). [Begins abruptly.] Anna Sokolow speaks with Barbara Newman about the "hand of Fatima;" her background, including her birth in Hartford, Conn. and growing up in New York on the Lower East Side; her family including her mother's strong political views and her father's early death; attending classes after school at neighborhood settlement houses; the Neighborhood Playhouse including her performing in the children's company; her weekly visits to the Yiddish theater, with her mother; her dislike of school; dropping out of high school to work; (briefly) her impressions of Martha Graham; Louis Horst and his composition classes including their influence on her creative life; performing for [labor] unions; her own company, the Dance Unit; touring with her own work including Songs of a Semite and Slaughter of the innocents; her three-month stay in the [former] Soviet Union [ends abruptly but continues directly on streaming audio file 3]. Streaming audio file 3 (approximately 29 minutes). Anna Sokolow speaks with Barbara Newman about her career after she returned from the Soviet Union including her rejoining Martha Graham's company; her experience at the Bennington College summer dance program including her memories of Doris Humphrey; her approach when creating her own choreography; her trip to Mexico with her company in 1939; staying on for a year, in Mexico City, after her company returned home, including her impressions of Mexico and the dancers she met there; celebrating Day of the Dead [Día de Muertos] in Mexico and choreographing a dance based on this experience. Streaming audio file 4, December 12, 1974 (approximately 30 minutes). [Begins abruptly.] Anna Sokolow speaks with Barbara Newman about her experiences in Israel including her impressions of the people and culture; teaching choreography, at the Juilliard School and elsewhere while continuing to choreograph new work; Jerome Robbins as an artist and as a friend; her awareness of her responsibilities, as a teacher and as a choreographer; how she feels when seeing her work on film; her choreographic process; her thoughts on ballet. Streaming audio file 5 (approximately 59 minutes). Anna Sokolow speaks with Barbara Newman about touring including repertory and sources of financial support; the pick-up nature of her company; works that reflect her Jewish heritage including Kaddisch; her work, rather than her words, as her preferred means of expression; her avoidance of clear-cut endings and propaganda in her work; her dances Strange American funeral and War is beautiful [Excerpts from a war poem]; her work Soviet folk suite (?); her works Speaker and Inquisition (?); her use of the spoken voice in her dance works; her experience performing in plays including Street scene, Candide and Camino Royale, and in opera; working with varied groupings of dancers and actors on a number of projects [interval of high-pitched noise from approximately 38:55-40:05]; her interest in directing and drama; plays she has recently seen and enjoyed including Cat on a hot tin roof; her work in film and for television; (briefly) her work Lyric suite; her choreographic process; (briefly) other works including Dreams; the deep significance of jazz music for her. Streaming audio file 6, May 11, 1975 (approximately 47 minutes). Anna Sokolow speaks with Barbara Newman about her work Lyric suite; her work Rooms; audience response to her work including Rooms and Déserts; her use of jazz music in her work; her satisfaction overall with how ballet companies have performed her work; how social and cultural currents have influenced her work, for example Opus '65; her thoughts on the recent revivals of works by Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey; her admiration for the work of Merce Cunningham; other choreographers she admires including George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, and Jerome Robbins; her love of ballet; her focus on the work itself that she is creating, not its (putative or actual) audience; her upcoming projects including in Israel, England, Lima (Peru), and California; the experiences that have been pivotal in her life including her trips to Mexico and Israel [ends abruptly].
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 84226867
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12118773
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): fb6c41b0-0341-0138-e0fa-318249a46c94
Rights Statement
The New York Public Library holds or manages the copyright(s) in this item. If you need information about reusing this item, please go to:

Item timeline of events

  • 1974: Created (Approximate)
  • 2020: Digitized
  • 2023: Found by you!
  • 2024

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Anna Sokolow,1974-1975" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1974 - 1975.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Anna Sokolow,1974-1975" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 6, 2023.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (1974 - 1975). Interview with Anna Sokolow,1974-1975 Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Interview with Anna Sokolow,1974-1975, (1974 - 1975)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 6, 2023 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Anna Sokolow,1974-1975