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


The American Dance Festival (ADF) began in 1934 as the Bennington School of Dance. Founded by Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, and led by Martha Hill, it was the desperately needed laboratory in which they could experiment, train students, and create the early works that made modern dance one of the great cultural triumphs of the 20th century. The Festival was held at Connecticut College from 1947-77 and in 1978 moved to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The one continuous home of modern dance and a creative laboratory dedicated to nurturing and sustaining the art form, ADF is a dynamic and multi-faceted arts institution offering an array of programs and presentations that currently include performances, national and international professional services, humanities projects, community outreach, the ADF School, archival/preservation/access projects, and media projects.

Since its beginnings, ADF has remained committed to serving the needs of dance, dancers, choreographers, and artists in related fields. ADF's programs are developed based on its mission to support new modern dance work; to preserve the history of modern dance through continued presentation of classic works, as well as through archival efforts; to build wider national and international audiences for modern dance; to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the art form and its cultural and historical significance; to provide professional education and training of young dancers; and to disseminate information on dance.

Performances by professional dance companies, from the most experimental to the most established, remain the heart of the Festival. ADF has a world-wide reputation for discovering and bringing deserved recognition to much of modern dance's finest talent. ADF has been the scene of more than 450 premieres — many of which have become landmarks in American dance — by artists such as Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Erick Hawkins, Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Pilobolus, Laura Dean, Meredith Monk, Martha Clarke, Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, and Eiko & Koma, among countless others. It has commissioned works from modern giants as well as encouraged young talent.

Throughout its history, ADF has played a critical role in increasing the repertories of our country's modern dance companies, and what is seen at ADF is ultimately seen by audiences throughout the world. The ADF School — one of the oldest training grounds for both professional and young dancers — has grown to 400 students from all over the world and a faculty of 50, with a curriculum that includes all the major dance techniques, repertory, composition, related courses (such as dance medicine, the body therapies, and dance video), and professional workshops. During each summer season in North Carolina, ADF serves an international audience of more than 32,000 and more than 500 artists and students in residence. ADF's year-round programming reaches thousands of people in communities throughout the country and around the world.

The ADF archives (with materials dating back to the 1930s) is an important historical repository. The collection includes film, videotape, photographs, and printed material documenting the development of modern dance and continues to be an invaluable resource for choreographers and scholars. Duke University's Special Collections Library continues its significant collaboration with ADF's archives, and ADF's video viewing collection is housed at Duke University's Lilly Library and available for year-round use.

The American Dance Festival joined the Dance Heritage Coalition in 1996, and is represented by Director of Archives Debra Elfenbein. The Festival can be reached at PO Box 90772, Durham, NC 27708; (919) 684-6402.

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The Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is the largest and most comprehensive archive in the world devoted to the documentation of dance. Chronicling the art of dance in all its manifestations -- ballet, ethnic, folk, modern, and social -- the Division is much more than a library in the usual sense of the word. It is part museum, part film production center, and part consulting service to the professional dance community. It preserves the history of dance by gathering diverse written, visual, and aural resources, and it works to ensure the art form's continuity through an active documentation program. On-going oral history interviewing and videotaping of significant dance performances and choreographic works ensures a record for future study which otherwise would not exist.

Founded in 1944 as a separate division of The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library, the Dance Division is used regularly by choreographers, dancers, critics, historians, journalists, publicists, film makers, graphic artists, students, and the general public. Working with the Division's vast resources, a user can reconstruct an Elizabethan court dance, a 19th-century Italian tarantella, or a 20th-century Ceylonese devil dance; determine what makup Nijinsky wore in Scheherazade; learn the problems Picasso faced in working on the ballet Parade from letters in his own hand; or compare the modern dance styles of Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and Doris Humphrey. While the Collection contains more than 34,680 reference books about dance, these account for only 3 percent of its holdings. Other resources available for study free of charge include films and videotapes, audiotapes, clipping files, iconography, and manuscripts and memorabilia.

The Dance Division is a founding member of the Dance Heritage Coalition and Madeleine Nichols, Curator of the Dance Collection, serves as its representative. Mailing address: 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023-7498; (212) 870-1657.

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The Dance Notation Bureau's (DNB) mission is to record dances in a way that will allow them to continue to be performed, using a symbol system called ""Labanotation,"" first published by Rudolf Laban in 1928. Works are notated during regular rehearsals and the notator records the steps, imagery, motivation, and characterization given to the dancers by the choreographer or stager. A dance score functions for dance in the same way a music score functions for music; each provides a blueprint of the work to which the performers add their artistry. Along with the score, DNB collects production information, music scores and tapes, videotapes, photographs, and any other information needed to stage the dance.

Founded in 1940 by Ann Hutchinson Guest, Helen Priest Rogers, Eve Gentry, and Janey Price, DNB is the only American institution of its kind, assisting dance companies and scholars around the world. The first ballet recorded in Labanotation in the United States was in 1942 when choreographer Eugene Loring requested that his famous ballet, Billy the Kid, be notated in order to help establish ownership of the choreography. Other landmarks for the DNB include the 1948 notating of Doris Humphrey's Shakers; the commissioning by Ballet Society (predecessor to the New York City Ballet) to notate four of George Balanchine's ballets; and the 1968 establishment of the DNB Extension for Education and Research, founded as part of the program of the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University. A wide variety of works is notated each year and between forty and fifty dances are staged from scores. Colleges and Universities across the country offer courses in Labanotation, from introductory to advanced levels and professional notator certification is offered at the DNB.

Recent activities of the DNB include a project to notate eighteen of Balanchine's ballets; The Fund for Dance Notation, a program that enables choreographers to get their works notated at no cost to the artist; the creation of the Educational Performance Collection, a series of scored dances, with performance rights, available for purchase to universities and other educational institutions; and a project to document works by artists at risk from AIDS.

DNB's archive has more than 650 dances by over 160 choreographers making it the most substantial collection of original Labanotated dance scores in the world. The DNB is devoted to housing and preserving these materials and to making them as accessible as possible for the purposes of continued performance, classroom use, and scholarly research. As well as scores of ballet, modern, and jazz works, which were created for presentation in a theatrical setting, the DNB library also holds a collection of folk, historical, and social dances from around the world, including a selection of reconstructed Renaissance and Baroque dances. The library also maintains a collection of printed materials dating from 1952 that includes miscellaneous books, scores, and instruction manuals published through the DNB Press and an archive of audio visual materials dating from 1955. The DNB is working toward making the library catalog accessible on-line over the World Wide Web.

DNB is now developing new software that will translate notated dance scores into animation tha can be viewed on the computer screen as well as translate movement created in the animation program into dance notation. A first stage prototype has been created and DNB is now working to refine and expand the capabilities of the program.

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The Harvard Theatre Collection is the oldest theatre research collection in the United States. Founded in 1901, its holdings document nearly all aspects of the performing arts, including theatre, music, dance, opera and musical theatre, and many forms of popular entertainment. Among its particular strengths is the history of dance performance.

The Theatre Collection is a department of the Houghton Library, the principal library of rare books, manuscripts, and archives in the Harvard College Library, and a part of the largest university library system in the world.

The Theatre Collection's purposes are to acquire, catalogue, and preserve significant literary, historical, documentary, and visual material, and to interpret its collections through catalogues and finding aids, special programs, and its specialist staff.

The Harvard Theatre Collection serves as a regional, national, and international repository for material in the performing arts. While the Theatre Collection supports research and instruction in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard University, it is heavily used as well by researchers from all over the world. The Harvard Theatre Collection may be used by any researcher, regardless of affiliation.

The Theatre Collection mounts about four exhibitions each year, usually in the Edward Sheldon Exhibition Rooms in the Nathan Marsh Pusey Library. A number of recent exhibitions have included dance-related material from the Collection.

Each year the Harvard Theatre Collection offers four fellowships to visiting scholars whose research requires the use of unique material in the Theatre Collection.

The Harvard Theatre Collection is a founding member of the Dance Heritage Coalition. It is represented by Fredric Woodbridge Wilson, Curator of the Collection.

The Theatre Collection reading room, in the Pusey Library in Harvard Yard, is open weekdays (except University holidays) from 9:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. It is advisable to make an appointment in advance. The Theatre Collection's mailing address is: The Harvard Theatre Collection, The Nathan Marsh Pusey Library, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138; telephone: (617) 495-2445; fax: (617) 495-5786; e-mail:

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Jacob's Pillow is the oldest and most comprehensive dance festival in America, located in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. Founded in 1933 by Ted Shawn, it was the headquarters for his groundbreaking company of men dancers during the period just after his breakup with Ruth St. Denis and the dissolution of their Denishawn Company. Since the Men Dancers disbanded in 1940, Jacob's Pillow has hosted legions of dance artists and companies from across the country and around the world, and has also conducted a summer school serving the dance field in many capacities.

The Jacob's Pillow Archives documents the history of the Festival and School and the artists who have taken part in these activities, with particular emphasis on Ted Shawn, Ted Shawn's Men Dancers, and the Denishawn Company. The collection includes correspondence, photographs, programs, board minutes, books, costumes, posters, audiotapes, and scrapbooks. The Archives are administered by the Pillow's Preservation Program, which also documents the ongoing activities of the Festival (principally on videotape) and organizes exhibits exploring various aspects of dance history. Preservation is one of four program areas at Jacob's Pillow, along with Dance Presentation, Creative Development, and Education. The center for most of the Pillow's preservation activities is Blake's Barn, an 18th century structure that has been relocated and reconfigured specifically for this purpose. In addition to a central area for exhibits and lectures, the building houses a reading room and video viewing room that provides access to the collection.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival has been a member of the Dance Heritage Coalition since 1996. It is represented by Norton Owen, Director of Preservation. The research facility is open year-round by appointment and is available to the general public during the 10-week summer season from 90 minutes before curtain time until the end of the performance. Contact Jacob's Pillow at PO Box 287, Lee, MA 01238; (413) 637-1322.

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The Library of Congress is the nation's library with services to Congress, to executive and judicial branches of government, to academic and public libraries in the United States and abroad, and to the scholars, researchers, artists, and scientists who use its resources. Housing more than 110 million items in three buildings on Capitol Hill, the Library is the largest library in the world. Dance materials at the Library reflect the place of dance as an intrinsic component of the nation's cultural tapestry.

The Music Division of the Library, created in 1896, derives from the thirteen books on music literature and theory contained in Thomas Jefferson's library, which was purchased by Congress in 1815. From these books the Division's holdings have grown to eight million items covering all branches of the performing arts, including theater and dance, mainly from the past two and one-half centuries. The collections of classified music, music and literary manuscripts, microforms, and copyright deposits, as well as special collections, are available for use in the Performing Arts Reading Room, Madison Building (LM113), from 8:30-5:00, Monday through Saturday, excluding federal holidays. Some collections or individual items may require prior permission for use.

Resources for the study of dance have always had a place at the Library of Congress, and many of the collections are curated by the Music Division. Included in its diverse holdings are a collection of dance manuals from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; materials documenting theatrical dance in America such as the music library and personal "notebook" of Sergei Diaghilev, the Bob Fosse/Gwen Verdon Collection, the Danny Kaye/Sylvia Fine Collection; and numerous collections that provide a record of modern dance such as the Lester Horton Dance Theater Collection, the Pola Nirenska Collection, and the Franziska Boas Collection. Also of note are materials from dance writers Alan and Sali Ann Kreigsman. Documentation of such masterpieces as the Library's commission of Aaron Copland and Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring is also preserved in the Music Division.

Materials documenting dance also can be found in other divisions and accessed through their reading rooms. Primary documentation and descriptions of ethnic and American vernacular dance are housed in the Archive of Folk Culture in the American Folklife Center. Visuals, such as the dance photographs of Arnold Genth, are retained in the Library's Prints and Photographs Division. Motion pictures and videotapes of works by choreographers such as Agnes de Mille and George Balanchine can be viewed in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division. Hours of these special reading rooms are 8:30-5:00, Monday through Friday.

The Library of Congress is one of the founding members of the Dance Heritage Coalition. Vicky Risner, Head, Acquisitions and Processing, Music Division, serves as the Library's representative. The address of the Library is 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20540; (202) 707-5503.

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The Ohio State University supports dance documentation through the work of the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute and other library collections, the Department of Dance, and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Founded in 1951, the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute is a research center that acquires, preserves, and provides access for scholars and students to an extensive collection of performing arts materials with emphasis on theatre and theatrical dance. The Institute also provides research opportunities to graduate students, sponsors symposia and publishes a refereed journal, Theatre Studies, and Theatre Studies: Series of Occasional Publications. It is open to the public as well as to the Ohio State University community, and enjoys local, national, and international research use.

The Institute holds significant dance and movement materials in collections such as the Twyla Tharp Archive, the Randy Skinner Collection, the Robert Post Collection, and the Sylvia Westerman Ballet Collection. In addition, the Institute maintains photograph collections and design collections that contain both historical materials on microfilm and original designs from the late nineteenth century through the present, including numerous costume, scene and lighting designs for dance.

The Department of Dance, whose graduate program was rated first in the December 1996 Dance Teacher Now survey of dance program heads in the United States and Canada, has a long history of involvement with dance documentation. In addition to being the home of the Dance Notation Bureau Extension for Education and Research, the department is responsible for the development of LabanWriter (a word-processing-like software for Labanotation), supports dance documentation projects, and offers multimedia workshops in dance documentation and preservation.

The Wexner Center for the Arts is a multidisciplinary contemporary arts center with programs in the visual, performing, and media arts. In each of its program areas, the Wexner Center seeks to support and encourage artistic experimentation and investigation through artists' residencies and commissioned projects. Such initiatives provide artists with crucial financial support, access to professional resources and technical expertise, and opportunities for interaction with the university community and the public. The Wexner Center has provided residencies for artists such as Bill T. Jones for his landmark work Still/Here, Elizabeth Streb for her trampoline-powered breakthrough work UP, Amanda Miller for her collaboration with composer John Zorn that won several prizes in the international Bagnolet competition, as well as other projects with Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, Ann Carlson, Bebe Miller, Liz Lerman, Irene Hultman, and Kevin O'Day. The Wexner Center also has extended commissioning support to many other dance artists including Urban Bush Women, Meg Stuart, Victoria Uris and Donna Uchizono. The Wexner Center is one of 12 leading national dance presenters that constitute the National Dance Project, a project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, to provide support for the development and touring of significant new work.

Ohio State has been a member of DHC since 1997. Nena Couch, Curator, represents the Theatre Research Institute and Valarie Williams represents the Dance Department to the DHC.
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The San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum (SFPALM) is an independent library dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available to the public information and materials on the performing arts, with special emphasis on San Francisco's performing arts history. San Francisco has attracted the major performers and leading dance companies of the world since the mid-1800s; therefore, SFPALM's holdings are wide-ranging and diverse.

Established in 1947 as the San Francisco Dance Archives by Russell Hartley, a dancer, artist, and designer of costumes and scenery for the San Francisco Ballet, the collection has grown to embrace all performing arts, from such popular pastimes as circus and vaudeville to grand opera. The collection serves performing artists, costume and set designers, students, scholars, the media, and the general public as well as historians whose work touches on social and cultural history.

The San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum is a founding member of the Dance Heritage Coalition. David R. Humphrey, executive director, represents SFPALM and serves as chair of the Coalition. SFPALM is located at 401 Van Ness Avenue 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94102; (415) 255-4800. The library is open to the public; hours and additional information may be found at
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