Keeping alive the legacy of beloved choreographer Bella Lewitzky
It took these two, John Pennington and Yolande Yorke-Edgell, to keep alive the legacy of Bella Lewitzky -- beloved dancer, choreographer and much-honored humanist who wielded a vast influence in Los Angeles for half a century.
Both are carrying out their mentor's aesthetic values, as dance-makers in their own right. Both also stage, though not this time, the classics they performed as members of the Lewitzky Dance Company.
But the deepest need they serve is passing along -- body to body, breath to breath -- the tone and texture of those works to the next generation of dancers. Because without that physical/personal coaching, they say, only a skeleton of such classics as "On the Brink of Time" can survive.
"And Bella was all about depth, about integrity, in her performances," Pennington said. "She would never let us do anything that didn't relate to the larger architectural design of a piece," Yorke-Edgell said. "Just doing the steps would not work."
When the two join forces, with their companies, in a program to be performed this month in Long Beach and Pasadena, Lewitzky fans can catch a glimmer of her past glory -- along with a progression to the current look of dance invention.
-- Donna Perlmutter
Photo: John Pennington, far right, rehearses with the Pennington Dance Group for a tribute performance honoring the late Bella Lewitzky at ARC in Pasadena. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times