One week after Jewish communities around the world recalled the heroism of Queen Esther during Purim holiday celebrations, a Los Angeles dance company debuted a new ballet dedicated to the deeds of biblical women.

Featuring an appearance by former Broadway singer Judy Winegard and accompanying an address by Sarah Cunin, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Malibu, “Crown of Creation” premiered March 7 at the Beveral Hills High School. Produced by the Yachad Dance Ensemble West, the montage of 10 vignettes drew on the stories of Esther, Eve, Ruth, Miriam, Sara and Rebecca. A special youth ensemble performed a tribute to the sacrifices and accomplishments of Jewish women of today.

Created by Hadassah Esther, former director of Yachad Dance in Brooklyn, N.Y., and an instructor at A Time for Dance studio in Los Angeles, the work is based on The Crown of Creation, an examination of biblical women by Chana Weisberg.

In the weeks leading up to the performance, said Sheila Meyers, founder and director of A Time for Dance, the dancers “really connected with the stories behind each piece.”

“One woman in particular,” she explained, “was so inspired that the she studied the Book of Ruth for the first time. It became very important to her to know the story, to have the nuances of expression reflect a true picture of Ruth.”

The ensemble behind the production has garnered praise for its representation of a cross-section of women among Southern California’s diverse Jewish community, as well as for its adherence to norms of modesty prescribed by Jewish law. In addition, it launched a test program in Chabad-Lubavitch preschools and Hebrew schools last fall.

“Crown of Creation” drew on the stories of biblical women.
“Crown of Creation” drew on the stories of biblical women.

“We really wanted to find a way to give back to the community through the arts,” stated Meyers, “to bring women together both as performers and as audience members.”

Proceeds from Sunday evening’s performance were earmarked for Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles’ Domestic Violence Prevention program and shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

“A lot of women in the Bible were barren, and their bareness was extremely painful,” said Esther, in explaining the choice of beneficiaries. “It made them feel broken, yet from their brokenness they became whole and they became strong. Women recovering from domestic violence have also been broken, but the JFS helps them to become whole again, stronger.”