Told first by her parents that dancing was immodest and then by Israeli settlers that dancing was bourgeois, Mia Arbatova defied her critics and became a pioneer of ballet in Israel. Arbatova’s parents forbid her dancing, but after she fell seriously ill, they relented, allowing her to study at the National Opera Company of Riga in Latvia. She married her dance partner Valentine Ziglovsky in 1934, and after they divorced in 1937, Arbatova made Aliyah to Palestine, where she had previously toured with the company. She began choreographing and teaching young dancers there in 1940 for the National Folk Opera. She opened her own dance studio in 1943 and created several ballet and performance companies, including Ballet Ammami in 1949. Arbatova thrived despite the lack of any aid from public institutions and even taught poor students free of charge. Her students went on to perform worldwide for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, the London Festival Ballet, and other prestigious companies. In 1985 she was made an “Honorary Citizen of Tel Aviv” for her contributions to Israeli culture. After her death, several former students founded the Mia Arbatova Ballet Association in her honor.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Mia Arbatova." (Viewed on December 11, 2019) <https://qa.jwa.org/people/arbatova-mia>.
Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.