Obituary: Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild

IN MARTHA Graham's autobiography, Blood Memory (1991), she reports saying to Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild, "I have never had a wardrobe woman who wore Dior and smoked Dunhill cigarettes. And," Graham continues, "she was an excellent wardrobe mistress because she would not allow a wrinkle. Not one wrinkle!" Rothschild was listed as wardrobe mistress during a Graham company tour sponsored by the US State Department because everyone had to have an official function; but the great early patron and friend of the modern dance pioneer clearly took this role seriously.

Likewise, she approached with great seriousness her role as patron, foremost of Graham and of modern dance in Israel. Batsheva de Rothschild was a daughter of Baron Edouard de Rothschild and granddaughter of Baron James de Rothschild, the founder of the French branch of the Rothschild banking family. She recalled that her family home in Paris was filled with music, often played by great artists.

She graduated from the Sorbonne in biology and was a research biologist at a laboratory in Paris until the Second World War began, when she left France with her family. She told Graham that each person could take only one small suitcase: "I had the most beautiful Vermeer by my bed table. It would have fitted in my suitcase, and I started to pack it and then I put it back. I realised if I took one thing like that I would miss all the rest."

She began post-graduate studies in biology at Columbia University in New York, then worked for the Free French both in New York and in London, and joined the French army, landing at Normandy after the invasion and becoming a liaison in Paris between the French and American forces.

In New York, she was quietly taking classes at Graham's school when she is said to have been invited to contribute $500 toward the orchestration of Graham's Deaths and Entrances. This modest beginning led to many years of generous and active support for Graham's company and school, including the purchase of the premises on East 63rd Street that until recently were home to the school.

An example of the Rothschild's active care occurred during an abortive 1950 European tour, which was to have included a first season in London. It was undertaken largely because of the Rothschild's enthusiasm and support; she had even published a book she had written on modern dance, La Danse Artistique aux USA, in France the previous year. The tour ended abruptly with an injury sustained by Graham (who had not yet reconciled herself to having understudies for her roles), but Rothschild took her to recuperate at her family home in Paris and at Graham's request took her on a tour of the family bank. Later when Graham considered adopting an American Indian baby, Rothschild reportedly offered to pay the expenses.

In the early 1950s Rothschild established a New York-based Batsheva de Rothschild Foundation for Arts and Sciences, which sponsored two showcases for modern dance in a Broadway theatre and helped establish a company headed by another modern dance pioneer, Doris Humphrey, as well as underwriting Graham's tours, among its many activities.

As a result of tours to Israel with the Graham company, Rothschild's interest in the country was kindled, and she settled there in 1962. She founded two companies seminal to the thriving dance culture of Israel. Batsheva Dance Company was formed in Tel Aviv in 1964 with Graham as its first artistic advisor, and was a full-blown modern dance company that toured internationally. Rothschild withdrew her support in 1974 when the company refused to take her protege Jeannette Ordman, as director.

In 1967 Rothschild had founded the Bat-Dor Studio of Dance in Tel Aviv with Ordman, a teacher and dancer, stressing modern dance and ballet equally; the Bat-Dor Dance Company followed the next year, with Ordmann as artistic director and active participation by Rothschild. As seen in a 1983 visit to New York, the company featured a kind of allegro, barefoot ballet with modern dance's expressive torso, danced by gutsy, attractive performers, strong movers with an inward intensity and excellent partnering abilities.

Batsheva de Rothschild's support of Israeli life, its arts and sciences, extended into many spheres. She was awarded the Israel Prize in 1989.

Marilyn Hunt

Batsheva de Rothschild, arts patron: born London 23 September 1914; married 1948 Donald Bloomingdale (marriage dissolved); died Tel Aviv 20 April 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most