Deborah Bertanov (1915-2010): The Israeli Dancer, Choreographer, and Dance Researcher

Deborah Bertanov, born on March 12, 1915, and passing away on April 19, 2010, was an Israeli dancer, choreographer, and dance researcher. She was also the recipient of the Israel Prize for Dance in 1991.

Deborah was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, as the daughter of Miriam and actor Joshua Bertanov, co-founders of "The Stage" Theater. She was the sister of actor Shlomo Bertanov and the niece of Ayelet Bertanov. She grew up in Moscow, where, as a child, she studied ballet at the "Bolshevik Theater" school and even performed there.

She immigrated to Israel with her family in 1928 and gave her first solo performance as a young girl. In 1929, she traveled to Berlin to further her ballet studies. At the age of 16, she performed at Albert Einstein's salon in Germany. She continued to refine her dance skills in modern dance and classical ballet in Berlin and England and made guest appearances in the United States.

In New York, she participated in the play "HaDibbuk" ("The Possessed") and gained recognition, particularly for her solo performance of the "Dance of the Dybbuk" in that play. Subsequently, she appeared on prominent stages worldwide for over two decades as a dancer and choreographer. In 1937, she married Emanuel Ben Gurion, the son of the writer Micha Josef Berdyczewski. Their son, Idow Ben Gurion, became a writer, theater director, and playwright.

In 1966, the couple moved to Holon, near the residence of her father, Joshua. Bertanov established a dance studio in her home and, in 1970, retired from the stage to focus on teaching dance at her studio and giving lectures and classes throughout Israel. She also dedicated herself to writing books and conducting research over the years, exploring the characteristics of Israeli and international dance and investigating dances in Africa.

In the mid-1980s, at the age of 70, she returned to performing in solo shows. Even in her advanced age, she insisted on conducting series of dance exercises, stating, "If you can't do large movements, then you do small movements, but you have to keep moving."

Her life, marked by artistic success as well as sorrow and loss, is depicted in the documentary film "Shelachat" directed by Noa and Dan Geva and in her autobiography, "Behind the Scenes of the Soul" (2005).

Deborah Bertanov passed away in Tel Aviv at the age of 95 and was buried in the Southern Cemetery in Holon.

A street in Holon is named after her.

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