Ze'eva Cohen

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Ze'eva Cohen
BornAugust 15, 1940
OccupationChoreographer, Dancer

Ze'eva Cohen (Hebrew: זאבה כהן‎, born 1940) is an Israeli dancer and modern dance choreographer who founded and directed the dance program at Princeton University between 1969 and 2009.[1]


Ze'eva Cohen grew up in Tel Aviv, the daughter of Yemenite immigrants. She traveled to New York City in 1963 to study at the Juilliard School and perform with the Anna Sokolow Dance Company. She danced with the company for ten years.[2]

Dance career[edit]

Cohen was a founding member of Dance Theater Workshop, where she worked as a choreographer and dancer from the mid-sixties to the early seventies.[3] She has created a body of choreographic work which links her background in American modern dance with her Yemenite Jewish heritage.[4][5]

In 1971, she initiated her solo dance repertory program, which toured throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Israel for twelve years under the auspices of the National Endowment for the Arts Residency Touring Dance Program. Her solo repertory included commissioned works, reconstructions, and her original choreography comprising twenty-eight solos by twenty-three choreographers, among them Viola Farber, Elizabeth Keen, Phyllis Lahmut, Daniel Nagrin, Margalit Oved, Anna Sokolow, and James Waring.[6][7]

In 1983, she founded Ze’eva Cohen and Dancers, a dance company for which she developed a group repertory. The group performed in New York[8] and on national tours of the U.S., and premiered such works by Cohen as Rainwood, Walkman Variations, and Shifting Ground.[9] Cohen has also choreographed commissioned works for the Boston Ballet, Munich Tanzproject, Batsheva Dance Company, Inbal Dance Theater of Israel, The Alvin Ailey Repertory Dance Company, North Carolina Dance Theater, and other national dance companies.[10]

Since 1996, she has been choreographing, producing, and performing programs dealing with cultural, political, and social issues, and focusing on women’s myths and lives. These programs include Negotiations and Female Mythologies performed at theaters such as Danspace Project.[11] In this period she created such works as Negotiations and Jeptha's Daughter.[12]

In 1969, when Princeton University first admitted women undergraduates and Michael Mao pushed for dance to be accepted as a physical education credit, Cohen was asked to teach and build a dance program in the context of the Princeton Program in Theater and Dance.[13] Academic credit for dance classes began in 1972. She served as Head of Dance until June 2008, and was joined on the faculty by colleagues such as modern dance choreographers Sally Hess, Elizabeth Keen, Jim May, and Mark Taylor. In 1971, Cohen was recruited by the International Baccalaureate Organization to assemble a committee of international artists and educators to create curriculum and assessment criteria for Dance. This has become an ongoing activity involving international teacher training workshops and overseeing the application of the assessment criteria and standards in final examinations.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Cohen is the subject of a documentary film Ze’eva Cohen: Creating A Life In Dance directed by Sharon Kaufman,[14] which premiered at the Dance on Camera Festival at Lincoln Center in February 2015.[15] The film presents a model of how an artist can survive in the dance world by carving an independent path as a dancer, choreographer, and educator.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mothers of Israel (1975)". Retrieved 2018-04-04 – via Alexander Street.
  2. ^ Johnson, Robert. "Ze'eva Cohen Documents her Gliding Career at Age 74". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  3. ^ Alpine, Alyssa. "Fifty Years Already?!". Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  4. ^ Ingber, Judith Brin (2011). Seeing Israeli and Jewish Dance. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
  5. ^ Moore, Deborah Dash (1998). Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia (1 ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0415919363.
  6. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (February 2, 1981). "The Dance: Ze'eva Cohen's Solo". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  7. ^ Moseley, Monica (January 30, 2015). "Interview with Ze'eva Cohen (5 cassettes)". New York Public Library. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  8. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (January 11, 1987). "The Dance: Ze'eva Cohen". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  9. ^ Anderson, Jack (December 9, 1984). "Dance: Ze'eva Cohen at Riverside Church". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  10. ^ "Ze'eva Cohen". America Israel Cultural Foundation. 2007.
  11. ^ Aloff, Mindy (April 9, 2000). "DANCE; From a Woman's Recollections as an Israeli Outsider". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  12. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (April 18, 2000). "Dance Review; Inspired by Anna Sokolow". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  13. ^ Ingber, Judith Brin. International Dictionary of Modern Dance. Detroit: St. James Press. pp. 135–138.
  14. ^ Asantewaa, Eva Yaa. "New Film Traces Dance Career of Ze'eva Cohen". InfiniteBody. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  15. ^ Johnson, Robert. "Ze'eva Cohen Documents her Gliding Career at Age 74". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved January 30, 2015.