Bella Lewitsky

“I am a dancer, not a singer.’’

This was her reply during a hearing of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1951, to decline giving up names of friends who might have had involvement in the Communist Party.

Bella Lewitsky was “a small girl with heavy, dark hair and big eyes.” Born to a Russian Jewish family in Llano del Rio, a utopian socialist community in the Mojave Desert, she was raised in San Bernardino, which is where she discovered and nurtured her love for dancing.

With her “fiery personality,” she became “one of America’s great modern dancers.” And then a teacher, who was always concerned about the welfare of her group. “Her company members were always fully insured, and she paid them annual salaries even when they did not perform every month of a year.”

Bella was tough, fearless, and an ardent believer in the importance of modern dance as a major art form.