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Ottolangui-Langley OZ & NZ

Elizabeth Langley CM

For reasons of privacy and the increasingly more stringent GDP regulations on data protection, I generally try to avoid publishing about living people, but this weekend I received some amazing news which I will share with you and to which am dedicating this page.

Elizabeth Langley a sixth generation descendant of David Ottolenghi, has recently been made a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her lifelong service to the world of dance. Most of her personal and professional life is already in the public domain on various websites, therefore I’m sure that she won’t mind my sharing this.

Elizabeth, known as Betty Marie as a child, was born in 1933 to David Ernest Ottolangui/Langley and Veronica née Smith. David Ernest was the fourth child of Gershon Ottolangui later known as George Henry Langley and Annie Sarah née Harvie. Gershon/George was the youngest son of Aaron Ottolangui and Reyna (née Bensabat). Aaron was the son of Israel Ottolenghi and grandson of David Ottolenghi of Livorno and London. Elizabeth is the younger sister of the late Australian political activist Joan Marie Eisma and niece of the late Aaron “Bert” Ottolangui who  as Trooper Mark Aaron Langley of the 1st Imperial Light Horse was killed in the Second Boer War in 1901 in the Transvaal, South Africa. The stories of Joan and Aaron “Bert” have previously been published on this site. 

Elizabeth, is a performer, choreographer, teacher, dramaturge (literary advisor, editor, arranger in the performing arts) creation & rehearsal director, designer of the BFA Contemporary Dance Degree course in the Contemporary Dance Department at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

Elizabeth’s early dance education was at the Studio of Creative Dancing in Melbourne, inspired by her father who told her “If you can turn your passion into your profession, you will be the happiest person in the world.”

From 1960 to 1965 she lived in New York, where she trained in the Martha Graham technique at Graham’s studios on East 63rd Street, and was active in the rapidly developing modern and post-modern American dance scene. She then moved to Ottawa, Ontario where she had a number of jobs: opened a dress boutique, managed the famous Cafe Le Hibou, an Ottowa coffee house precursor to the Canadian National Arts Centre, where performers Josh White Jr., Odetta, James Cotton, and Bruce Cockburn headlined, teaching dance at the Strathmere Farm summer day camp in North Gower, Ontario. She taught a Movement for Actors course at the University of Ottawa in the autumn of 1975.

Among her students was Christopher House, today artistic director of the Toronto Dance Theater (TDT), who said about Elizabeth, “She always has a question that she’s grappling with. This means constantly setting challenges for yourself. There must be the feeling that there is something more. Step back and shake it up!”

In 1979, Elizabeth designed a university dance degree program at Concordia University, geared to training choreographers, as well as technique, became the first chair of the Department of Modern Dance, inaugurated in the 1980/81 academic year. It was renamed the Department of Contemporary Dance in 1987. She describes the development of the program as a key experience. Concentrated study allowed students to create their own choreographic work and teachers did not impose their own technique or develop their students’ work. Among her graduates from the program and achieved renown were Pierre-Paul Savoie – founder of PPS Danse and awarded the Prix de l’action culturelle de la ville de Montréal in 2015, Jeff Hall – dancer and choreographer recipient of the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize, a Canada Council for the Arts award for dance professionals, Jacques Brochu – now contemporary dance instructor at Concordia U., Dr. Isabelle Choiniere, a PhD in Dance and Computer Technology studied at the Centre for Advanced Inquiry in Integrative Arts, Plymouth University, Noam Gagnon – Certified Pilates and Franklin Instructor,  Associate Dance artist with the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and Artisitic Director of Vancouver dance company Vision Impure,  Florence Figols – contmporary dance tutor at Concordia U., publisher of Inscribing Dance: From Embodiement to Digital Media, Thea Patterson – dancer, choreographer and author, Sasha Kleinplatz – Artist in Residence at Concordia U., Andrew Tay – the new artisitic director at TDT and Ireni Stamou who is one of the Artists in Residence at Public Energy Performing Arts in Nogiwanong, Peterborough, Ontario.After studying in Amsterdam, at the School of New Dance Development, Elizabeth became involved with various projects for companies and solo artists in Canada, as assistant director for Maxine Heppner the dance and inter-medial creator, performer and educator known for foundation building and award-winning approaches to performance, studio consultant for Denise Fujiwara the Japanes-Canadian choreographer, dancer and teacher, and dramaturge for the Sashar Zarif Dance Theatre (SZDT) in Toronto. She sees the role of dramaturge as a “mentor, a person who helps a choreographer reach clarity about his or her choreographic expression by responding to the emerging work from the position of an informed ‘first spectator.’ She operates from a neutral position, in which the dramaturge attempts to leave no artistic imprint on the work.

In 1997, she received the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize, a Canada Council for the Arts award recognizing a dance professional’s exceptional contribution to the  Canadian world of dance.

At a theatre festival in Turkey, she met the Australian theatre director Paul Rainsford Towner, head of the troupe Chapel of Change. Together they created Elizabeth’s solo one hour multi-media performance, Journal of Peddle Dreams (2003). Inspired by the life and writing of Australian writer Eve Langley (no relation, as far as we know), the production directed by Towner, has been critically acclaimed as  “magnifique”. 

You can see an excerpt of Elizaboths 2003 work “Light Years” on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVvWrdSLVbk

Light Years – Elizabeth Langley

Elizabeth Langley – Light Years

I’m sure that you all join me in congratulating Elizabeth for this landmark recognition.

By bryanell2020

Occasional genealogist and full-time Ottolangui family historian. 8th generation descendant of the 17th century Ottolenghi family of Livorno, born in London, graduated in Birmingham, lived around the United Kingdom, Israel, and in Rome, Italy. For a short while in Buenos Aires, and currently residing in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where I have been since 2005.

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