Dancing through the Archives

During high school, a friend of mine told me that one day I would be a dancing librarian. At the time it made me laugh because of the eclectic range of my interests, which included modern dance, history, and, of course, books. Little did I know that one day I would be able to merge all these interests – thanks to the Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC) – and focus on dance librarianship and the preservation of dance archives.

Over the course of the next three months, I will be blogging about my experiences as a Dance Preservation and Archives Fellow in New York City. For the first six weeks, I will be working at the Dance Notation Bureau (DNB). More about the DNB later, but first I want to quickly recap the first week of the fellowship, which took place in Washington DC.

A whirlwind of meeting new people, including my fellow fellows, dominated the week with visits to the dance company Step Afrika! and the dance collections at Howard University and the Library of Congress. Being able to discuss the importance of preserving dance-related materials, and the challenges that each unique collection presents, was one of the most valuable aspects of this week. The importance of records management for active professionals and companies in the dance world was another element discussed throughout the week, that has made me quite excited for this summer fellowship and the prospect of working with dance companies to begin the process of preserving their legacies.

However, my favorite moment of the week was visiting the Performing Arts Reading Room at the Library of Congress, especially their current exhibit Politics and the Dancing Body. The intersection of politics and art is the focus of this exhibit highlighting both the social commentary potential of dance, as well as the use of dance (and other arts) as a political weapon. I highly recommend that you go visit the exhibit if you’ll be in DC this summer. If you aren’t able, be sure to check it out in its online format!

So, there’s a very brief introduction to the fellowship and our orientation week. It was a great week, and I’m so honored to be working with a wonderful group of people who are passionate and enthusiastic about dance, history, and preservation. Stay tuned for more exciting details as I dance through the archives!

-MEM

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About Dance Heritage Coalition

The DHC is the sole national non-profit alliance of institutions holding significant collections of materials documenting the history of dance. Its mission is to preserve, make accessible, enhance and augment the materials that document the artistic accomplishments in dance of the past, present, and future. The DHC pursues its mission by encouraging, initiating, and developing collaborative projects among the dance communities, library and archival fields, scholarly institutions, and individuals in four essential areas: access to materials, the continuing documentation of dance employing both traditional methods and developing technologies, preservation of existing documentation, and education within and beyond the field of dance. The DHC also serves as a think tank and a convener for the dance heritage field.
This entry was posted in Dance, Dance Heritage Coalition, Dance Notation Bureau, History and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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