Shoah Survivors Project

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Story telling informs the development of a collaboration between Sabbath and the UNLV Dance Department over the last few years. Beginning with Sabbath’s world literature classes and the Dance Department choreography classes, students and faculty collaborated to bring to dance stories from the world’s great religions and world views. Choreographic Collaboration then progressed to using oral histories to inform the choreography after Sabbath transcribed four Veterans’ testimonials. All these interviews were completed on campus, and all the collaborations took place in person at UNLV’s Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art.

Planning to continue in the tradition of in-person collaboration and performance, Sabbath interviewed four Las Vegas Holocaust Survivors in their homes February 2020: Henry Kronberg (age 100), Sabina Wagschall Callwood (age 83), Steven Nasser (age 87), Alexander Kuechal (97). When the pandemic hit in March 2020, plans for an in-person collaboration were shelved. In October 2020, the Dance Department and College of Fine Arts approved its Communications Coordinator and filmmaker, Shahab Zargari, for capturing in film the four survivors in their homes reading a transcription of their interview testimonials.

Between October 2020 and June 2021, choreographer Cathy Allen (Associate Professor of Dance), Louis Kavouras (Chair, UNLV Dance Department), Zargari, and Dance Department student and alumnae dancers continued to choreograph, perform, and capture in film various dance segments. Some of these segments were choreographed specifically for the collaboration, other segments were enlisted for the collaboration. The dance performances and filming took place in the UNLV Dance Studio One, Clark County Wetlands Park, and various other locations in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada.

Research included US Holocaust Museum historical material, an educational banner exhibit—How Did You Survive? created by Esther Finder and Heidi Straus, period music including Klezmer and Yiddish songs, and consultation support from the Sperling-Kronberg-Mack Holocaust Resource Center Library of Las Vegas, Center Librarian Susan Dubin. The project received additional support from the Survivor and Second-Generation Survivor community of Las Vegas, Raymonde (Ray) Fiol and Esther Finder.

After content was established, the artistic work of filmmaker Shahab Zargari interwove excerpts from the filmed survivor testimonials with dance and historical material to form the structure and content of the resulting Docudance. The final artistic presentation in film is about 28 minutes.

Awards & Screenings

This film has been featured in and a part of the following:

  • 2022 The Cutting Room International Short Film Festival NYC
  • 2022 Film in Focus International Film Festival (October)
  • 2022 The Cutting Room International Short Film Festival NYC
  • 2022 Film in Focus Film Competition finalist
  • 2022 London Indie Short Festival Nov. 2022 AWARD WINNER: Best Documentary Short
  • 2022 Berlin Shorts Award semi-finalist
  • 2022 Dublin World Film Festival semi-finalist
  • 2022 Hollywood International Golden Age Festival semi-finalist
  • 2022 Inspired Dance Film Festival
  • 2022 ASYLUM: Reflections On Refuge presented by The Asylum Theatre
  • 2022 Conney Jewish Arts Conference
  • 2022 Annual Conference of the American Academy of Religion, Western Region

More Resources

Please visit the project website for more information!

Transcripts of the interviews are available upon request. Please contact UNLV Special Collections & Archives for more information.

Controlled Subject

Holocaust survivors; Oral histories


Dance | English Language and Literature | Jewish Studies

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