Inbal Dance Company: Preserving Yemenite Jewish Culture Through Dance

The Inbal Dance Company is a renowned Israeli dance troupe founded in 1949 by Sara Levi-Tanai, with the aim of preserving and celebrating the rich heritage of Yemenite Jewish culture through dance.


Sara Levi-Tanai began her journey by working with a group of young boys and girls from the Yemenite community. These gatherings took place at the Carmel School building. During these initial meetings, the youth explored movement, games, and other activities. Out of this group, the first generation of Inbal dancers emerged, consisting of seven young individuals.

In 1950, the troupe officially began performing and was initially known as "Sara Levi's Eastern Troupe." The ensemble performed in various settlements, kibbutzim, and communities, under the auspices of the General Organization for Culture.

Following their performance at the Folk Dance Festival in Dalia in 1954, the troupe received both financial and organizational support from the "Norman Foundation" (later known as the America-Israel Culture Foundation).

This support allowed them to operate under favorable conditions and expand their ensemble to 12 members. The troupe's costumes were designed by the chief designer of the "Miskit" company, Pnina Lightersdorf. Set designs and stage decorations were often created by Anatol Gurvitch.

Reactions to Sara Levi-Tanai's work were mixed. Some critics dismissed her work as Eastern folklore, while others recognized its significance. Despite the controversy, the Inbal Dance Company was chosen to represent Israel on the international stage. From 1957 to 1959, the troupe embarked on performance tours in North America and Europe.

Under the artistic direction of Levi-Tanai, the Inbal Dance Company enjoyed significant success for approximately four decades, both in Israel and during international tours. However, their prominence gradually waned in the years that followed.

In the inaugural "Colors in Dance" festival in August 1984, Inbal dancers performed a choreography by Ronit Levi Weiss, winning first place.

The heart of the Inbal Dance Company is situated at the "Inbal Multidisciplinary Center for the Arts" in Neve Tzedek. In 2015, Barak Marshall assumed the role of artistic director of the troupe, and they presented his creation "Wonderland." In 2016, the company performed "Simple Dance," a choreography by Mor Shani. In 2021, they staged "Lakat," also by Mor Shani.

Inbal Dance Company Theater – The Hub of the Troupe

Maragliot Oved, principal dancer in the Inbal Dance Company, 1960

The Inbal Dance Company, 1962

The Inbal Dance Company, with its rich history and enduring commitment to preserving Yemenite Jewish culture through dance, continues to captivate audiences in Israel and around the world. Under the guidance of its dedicated artists and leaders, it remains a vital cultural institution in the realm of Israeli dance.

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