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Dancer Bella Lewitzky dies at 88

She was once investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
/ Source: Reuters

Bella Lewitzky, a modern dancer and choreographer who early in her career was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, has died at age 88.

Lewitzky died at an assisted care home in southern California on Friday, after suffering a stroke a few days earlier, friends said. Lewitzky had had her right leg amputated in 1999 because of arterial disease.

Originally a student of ballet, Lewitzky launched a modern dance career in 1934, when she studied under Los Angeles choreographer Lester Horton, and later became a lead dancer in the Horton Dance Group.

In 1966, she formed the Lewitzky Dance Company, which became one of the leading modern dance companies in the world.

But her career was sprinkled with controversy.

In 1951, Lewitzky was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee to answer questions about possible Communist activities in the art world.

In 1990, Lewitzky crossed out the anti-obscenity clause before accepting a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She later successfully sued to accept the NEA grant.