An alliane of major dance collections, formed to document and preserve America's dance.
Dance Heritage Coalition

Choreographing Your Search

Who should use this tutorial?

  • This site is a tutorial for in-depth dance research, focusing on primary sources available in archives and research libraries. It is designed for:
    • Dance researchers who have exhausted the resources available in their local libraries, and are extending their search into dance archives and research libraries
    • General researchers who may be interested in exploring dance materials

  • If you are researching a high school or college term paper, ask your school or public librarian to show you guides to periodical literature, such as Reader's Guide, Humanities Index, Pro-Quest, Uncover, International Index to the Performing Arts (Chadwyck-Healy), Index to Dance Periodicals, or Dance on Disc (the complete catalog of the New York Public Library Dance Collection, updated annually). You might also try searching in the New York Public Library Dance Collection online catalog. The Dance Collection offers indexing to readily available periodicals such as Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, Ballet Review, Dance Chronicle, Dance Research Journal, and your librarian can then help you locate articles from these periodicals locally.

  • Questions to keep in mind when doing research:
    1. What am I looking for? Have a clear idea, and write it down in a sentence or two. Ask a librarian or archivist for feedback.

    2. What words describe what I am looking for? Your idea can be written down in natural language, but you may need the help of a librarian or archivist to pinpoint the "search terms" representing your idea.

    3. Is what I've found relevant to what I'm looking for? Stay focused; beware of "interesting" sidetracks.

    4. How can I change my search to get better results?
        Truncation symbols, such as * or ? or # (depending on the system) increase retrieval:
          myth* retrieves myth, myths, mythological, mythology

      Use Boolean searching techniques
      • or broadens
      • and limits
      • not excludes

      Internet search engines often allow symbols to substitute for words: +"Cupid" +"painting" -"Psyche"
      Use parenthesis to group concepts within a long search
        For example, (Cupid and painting) not Psyche retrieves items that have to do with Cupid and painting, but not with Psyche
          (Cupid or Eros or Amour) and painting retrieves items that have to do with painting and either Cupid or Eros or Amour

    5. How will I USE my search results? Be aware of copyright, and obtain permission to reprint copyrighted material.