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Born in New York City, choreographer Sophie Maslow began her dance training at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre, where her teachers included Martha Graham and Blanche Talmud. She became a member of Martha Graham's Company in 1931 and later created the Sophie Maslow Dance Company. As a founding member of the New Dance Group, Maslow helped to define dance as a form of social and political expression. Some of her best-known choreography includes "Dust Bowl Ballads" (1941), depicting the Great Depression, and "Folksay" (1942), both of which included original music by Woody Guthrie. In 1950, she premiered her dance The Village I Knew, a memorial to the Holocaust based on the same Sholem Aleichem stories that would inspire Fiddler on the Roof. Between 1952 and 1962, Maslow choreographed Hanukkah festivals at Madison Square Garden.