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Chana Gitel "Ann" Litvin, a native of New York City, grew up speaking Yiddish, a German-Hebrew folk language. She did not learn to speak or read English until after starting elementary school. She wanted to go to school because of the freedom she found there. She was President of every class and skipped one year.
Ann survived the Nazi's reign of terror in which her family was decimated. She gave educational programs at high schools, churches, temples, and civic groups on the terrors of the Nazi regime. Her name "Ann" came from "Anushka," which is what her high school and college dance buddies contrived and called her.
At age 9, Ann attended night school with her brother Nat rather than stay at home alone. Usually she sat in the corner or the corridor doing homework. Then one night she heard some music, and followed it until she found a room of older teens and adults folk dancing. As Ann watched the dancers and listened to the music, her skin crawled. The music was erotic and this scared her. She went home and dreamed about the music night after night. Ann returned every week and was taken into the group to dance.
Starting at age 14 Ann went to the New York YMCA to attend Israeli folk dancing led by Fred Berk. The group was popular, attracting 200-300 youths every night. She was one of the few demonstrators for Fred Berk, the father of Israeli folk dance in the United States.
Ann graduated from high school and entered a men-only college the CCNY College of Engineering at age 15. The males looked upon her as a token female, not to be taken seriously. Her professors considered Ann a "strange happening." She dropped out of school at age 17 to care for her ill mother who had been injured in an accident (which Ann had witnessed).
By her late teens Ann was developing her own dance style. She attended Michael Herman’s dance class. Michael Herman was the creator of "Folkdancer Records." Ann has the distinction of being thrown out of Michael's class because she would not conform to his dance style.
Ann did undergraduate and graduate work in Electrical Engineering at City University of New York where she was one of the only women enrolled in any of her technical classes. Later, recruited to Southern California by the burgeoning aerospace industry, she was responsible for designing test equipment and creating test manuals for Minuteman and Apollo space exploration systems.
Ann first introduced over forty of Rivka Sturman's dances to San Diego and Orange Counties in the very late 1950s and early 1960s.
She was Rivka Sturman's solo dance notator in Southern California and dance partner / demonstrator on Rivka's awesome three- to four-month U.S., Canada, and Mexico world tour in the mid 1960s (photo at left). There were 18 workshops on the three-nation tour (a lucky number for the Jewish people).
The photo at right is of Ann and Madame Tamara Elganova at final rehearsal of Orange County Ballet's "Kamarinskaya" performance in 1975. Ann served as International Folk and Character Dance Specialist for Elganova and Orange County Ballet Company for many years.
Ann taught Israeli, Balkan, and international dancing for more than forty years. In the late 1970's, Ann turned her professional focus to developing methodologies to effectively prepare people for state and national standardized exams. Her courses were offered all over Southern California, and reflected a winning blend of her unique and effective teaching style along with her genuine interest in and respect for each student who attended. It was her philosophy that a person's view of self is as important to test taking success as the academic component of study itself.
Ann personally taught more than 400 short and long test prep courses in Southern California and served many thousands of students seeking entry into college, graduate schools, and teaching programs.
Ann died on March 6, 2015.
Dances Ann taught include Ahavat Hadassah, Atsay Hatsafsafot, Bat Harim, B'er Besade, Dayagim, Debka Dayagim, Debka Gilboa, Debka Hashalom, Debka Halel, Debka Le'Adama, Dodi Li, Dodi Tsach, Dzangurica (Skudrinka), Eh Hatal, El Harahat, Eten Bamidbar, Erev Ba, Ez Vakeves, Harmonica, Hashual, Hava Netze B'Machol, Hineh Ma Tov, Hopa Hey, Hora Chassidit, Hora Eilat, Hora Medura, Iti Milvanon, Keshoshana, Ki' Tin' Am, Kuma Echa, Kol Dodi, Kuma Echa, Le'or Chiyuchech, Machar, Mayim, Mechol Ovadya, Shiboley Pas, Syn-Co-Pe, Teh Ve Orez, Uri Zion, V'David, Vaynikehu, Zemer Atik, Zemer Bagilbo'a, and Zemer Lach.
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