Dance in Our Web Archives

National Dance Week 2021 begins April 19th, but the Music Division loves dance throughout the month and entire year! We often promote our dance special collections and stories of dancers and choreographers within them on this blog, and you can explore those past posts with the blog category tags “Dance” and “Women in Dance.” Today’s post, though, gives an early launch to National Dance Week by featuring dance, dancers, and choreographers within archived websites at the Library of Congress! Since 2018, I have been curating and managing the Music Division’s web archive collections, and I’ve selected some dance highlights for you all to click through and enjoy.

Performing Arts Web Archive

Begun in 2011, the Performing Arts Web Archive was the Music Division’s first web archive collection. It contains web content that relates to subjects and creators in the Music Division’s special collections and rare materials.

Screen shot of a February 7, 2018 capture in the web archives of the Dance Heritage Coalition’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures online exhibit. This page from the online exhibit features hula dancer ‘Iolani Luahine. The live project website no longer exists.

For example, the Music Division is the repository of the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation collection. The Ailey School is the official training school for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, so the Ailey School’s archived website is an important part of our web archives. I encourage you to explore this December 2019 capture about the Ailey School’s 50th anniversary celebration events. Can you find this content on the live Web? Doubtful – ephemeral historical content indeed! The website of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is still under embargo, but check back a year from now to explore archived captures.

The archived online resource the Glen Tetley Legacy is also a great tool for any Music Division researchers who wish to further contextualize their work with the American Ballet Theatre Archive and Martha Graham Collection. Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA) is another organization archived in the Performing Arts Web Archive. The Dance Heritage Coalition is an organization that no longer exists, but its web content is preserved with us!

LC Commissioned Composers Web Archive

What do archived websites of composers commissioned with Music Division funds have to do with dance? Quite a bit, actually! The LC Commissioned Composers Web Archive, released in 2019, contains the archived website of Swedish dancer and choreographer Pontus Lidberg. In 2016, Lidberg was co-commissioned by the Verna and Irving Fine Fund in the Library of Congress and the Martha Graham Dance Company to choreograph Notturno for strings and harp by American composer Irving Fine (1914-1962). The choreography was premiered by the Martha Graham Dance Company at the Library of Congress with the title Woodland. Check out this video discussion with Lidberg and the Martha Graham Company’s artistic director from April 1, 2016 and this pre-concert conversation with the choreographer about the work!

This collection also contains archived websites of composers and their legacy organizations whose commissioned works were for dance: Fang Man, Sir Roland Hanna and Rahanna Music Inc., Paul Hindemith (Paul Hindemith Institut), Igor Stravinsky (Fondation Igor Stravinsky), and Aaron Copland (Copland House and Aaron Copland Fund for Music).

Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive

This is the Music Division’s latest web archive collection, and we’ll have a fancy digital collection landing page for this web archive this spring! In the meantime, you can see what individual records have been released so far. The Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive contains websites and select social media to document professional, labor, and advocacy organizations at regional, national, and international levels over time. The websites in this collection represent the range of fields within the performing arts, including performance, publishing, scholarship, technology, education, advocacy, and labor organizing.

One dance highlight in this collection is the Dance Critics Association. This American organization formed in 1973 and ceased operations in the late 2010’s. But, the organization’s website is archived in this collection – once again, web archiving to the rescue! The archived website of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) is also worth exploring, and you should jeté across the pond for the archived website of the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance! Many more dance website captures will be out of embargo for this collection in the coming year, including the Dance Studies Association, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and Sacred Dance Guild.

Some organizations’ websites have older, quick captures of their homepages already released (we call these “incidental captures” when the crawler goes there without explicit instructions). You may not be able to go deep into their directories just yet, but fuller captures are forthcoming. Compare them to live versions and see what vintage web designs and homepage features you can find! These archived websites include Dance/USA, American Tap Dance Foundation, Dance Notation Bureau, Dance/NYC, American Dance Guild, Hardanger Fiddle Association of America, and National Dance Education Organization.

Screen shot of an incidental capture on September 13, 2002 of the Dance/USA home page in the web archives.

Screen shot of Dance/USA website home page on the live Web taken on April 1, 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before you all run off to use our archived dance websites, I want to remind you that search bars and database-driven content don’t function like we expect on the live Web because web crawlers aren’t humans. Dynamic media, like embedded video and audio, don’t always replay. But, you can click around pages, read older versions, open pop-up photo galleries, view uploaded PDF documents, and experience the look and feel of web design through time. You can learn more about the Web Archiving Program and information especially for researchers through these pages.

If you have questions about using the Music Division’s web archives, Ask a Librarian!

One Comment

  1. Paula Camilli
    April 11, 2021 at 7:51 am

    Pandemic Relief… One Plie’ at a time
    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter; I am now well into the fourth season of teaching community dance classes in my backyard. A year ago last February, my world was upended by a raging pandemic. My job of forty years at Blues Alley Jazz Club, vanished. Planned trips, social interactions, daily visits to the gym, family get togethers and holiday celebrations, were crossed off my calendar. I was a little lost and anxious, but still grateful for my many blessings. The need to retreat into something to regain control and help dissipate stress was evident. Immersing myself into healthy cooking and working out, my background in dance served me well for this journey. I diligently gave myself a 45-minute dance class daily. The mention of it to a couple of my friends sparked their interest and desire for something like that, as they were missing their gyms. Luckily, I have a rather large court in my back yard, and I offered for them to follow along, remaining socially distant.
    We labeled the class Covid Yoga, although there was very little yoga involved. I had spent 25 years teaching creative movement to preschoolers, but had very little experience teaching adults. I ventured into a hybrid class focusing on strength, balance and flexibility. Word of mouth spread, and the class quickly grew. Adirondack chairs were purchased to provide each participant with a personal ballet barre. We were quite the sight to behold under the canopy of trees lining our makeshift studio. My IPAD housed a Covid Yoga playlist of memory-provoking music supplying underlying rhythms for the various movement phrases. Before each class, I would diligently use the leaf blower to clear the court of any debris or puddles. Chairs were positioned at least 6 feet apart, and yoga mats and music put in place. We were ready to go.
    Last March, when this journey began, we were quite the motley crew of middle-aged women. Most everyone in class engaged in various forms of physical fitness, but dance experience was nary to be had. My combinations striving for strength, agility and grace were met with sighs, groans and dirty looks. I cringed at the abuse of the carefully crafted relationship between music and movement. Classes concluded with our chairs pulled into a vast circle, so we could share our Pandemic fears, anxiety over our political atmosphere, and our longing to spend time with our children, grandchildren, friends and family. This time together became a lifeline to normalcy and salvation.
    Honestly, I began this venture with the idea of providing a community service for my friends and neighbors. Little did I know, I would be the greatest beneficiary of these efforts. I truly had forgotten how much I loved teaching, learning, and dancing. My passion for dance had been rekindled and retooled. One year later, amidst demonstrating choreography to my willing participants, I have to stop and smile. Balances are steadied, posture is poised, limbs are graceful, and rhythms are no longer butchered. Their bodies speak back to me with confidence and strength. We are a community of women, lifting each other up, providing our own small piece of Pandemic relief.

    Pandemic Relief… One Plie’ at a time…

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