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In the programmatic goals of the DHC, preservation refers to the physical safeguarding of documentary materials and objects that hold information about a dance or dance tradition. However, preserving the physical materials presents many challenges. The variety of formats used to document dance, including magnetic tape, sound recordings, digital information, manuscripts, and photographic material, all have different preservation requirements and vary in their long-term stability.

In particular, the DHC is focusing on the critical need for preservation initiatives for dance recorded on videotape. Due to both the wide-spread use of video to record dance and the inherent instability of the magnetic medium, this is a pressing concern.

In 2002, the DHC commenced a three-phase project, Facing the Magnetic Media Crisis. Phase I focuses on videotape vulnerability and format obsolescence by creating a database registry, the National Dance Heritage Videotape Registry, to identify those tapes and collections that are in immediate need of preservation. Phase II will provide modest funding for re-mastering, copying, or conservation of endangered videotapes selected from the Registry. For more information on this project or to fill out a Registry questionnaire, please contact the DHC. To address issues concerning the transfer of analog videotape to digital for preservation purposes, the DHC has initiated the Digital Video Preservation Reformatting Project.

In this section, you will find three links that provide information on dance preservation issues.

Beyond Memory: Preserving the Documents of our Dance Heritage
A publication on documentation and archival planning geared to the dance community, Beyond Memory is divided into two sections. Part one covers methods of documenting dance and how to improve this process; part two discusses organization and care of the documentation.

Dance Videotapes at Risk and A Copyright Primer for the Dance Community
In 2003, the DHC created two best practice guides. Dance Videotapes at Risk outlines some basic steps to safeguard and preserve videotape collections in the face of tape deterioration and obsolescence of format and equipment. A Copyright Primer for the Dance Community provides a brief overview of copyright issues, especially those relating to videotape production and use.

Digital Video Preservation Reformatting Project
In July 2002, with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the DHC convened a meeting to design an experiment to determine the most appropriate method of transferring analog videotapes to digital for preservation purposes, using a variety of dance videotapes as the testing focus. In March 2003, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a grant to the DHC for this project, which will determine and specify preservation file format candidates appropriate for the dance community to preserve its heritage. In the fall of 2004, the DHC released a report summarizing this work.