Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1998-1999 index

Distributed May 14, 1999
Contact: Glenn Hare

Dance Legacy Institute has NEA grant to preserve historic choreography

A $40,000 NEA grant will be used by the Brown University American Dance Legacy Institute to document and restore the choreography of a former New York-based arts organization. The money will support a variety of projects, among them collecting oral histories, dance reconstruction and development of a multimedia database.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts will provide funding for Brown University's American Dance Legacy Institute to document the reconstruction of choreography by the American dance pioneers who founded the New Dance Group, a New York-based multidisciplinary arts organization that existed from the mid-1930s to the 1960s.

According to Institute curator Carolyn Adams, the NEA funding will support the Institute's New Dance Group Anthology Project, a program that will collect oral histories, reconstruct original dances, develop a multimedia informational database and undertake several other activities. "The money will also be used to develop educational curricula for teachers at all levels, Kindergarten through university, and to commission repertory dance etudes."

Formed in 1936, the New Dance Group was one of the first truly integrated arts organization in New York City. It provided a creative home for dancers, musicians and visual artists of all colors, religions and nationalities. It presented dance concerts, offered classes in a wide range of techniques and styles, and encouraged the creation of new work, "some of which will be reconstructed as part of the project," said Adams.

Among the New Dance Group members participating in the project are Mary Anthony, Jean Leon Destine, Jane Dudley, Billie Kirpich and William Korff. Also taking part are Muriel Manings, Sophie Maslow, Donald McKayle and Daniel Nagrin.

"The project will preserve the signature works by these modern dance pioneers, whose choreography represents specific mid-20th century cultural, political and social ideas and movements," said Julie Strandberg, the project director. "Most of these dances are in danger of being lost because they have not been documented and the aging choreographers no longer have companies as repositories of their work."

Four repertory companies - the American Repertory Dance Company, Ballet Arizona, Dayton Contemporary Dance and the Limon Dance Company - will participate in the reconstruction of the works.

A team comprised of choreographers, dancers, historians and videographers will conduct extensive interviews with founding members of the ensemble, many of whom are now in their 80s, to document and reconstruct the Group's seminal works.

An interactive CD-ROM with video clips, graphics and music will be used as an archive for the choreography, interviews, photographs, concert programs, reviews and other materials. The database, along with Internet links, will serve as a resource for future dancers, choreographers, dance educators and historians. The Repertory Etudes will provide the kinesthetic component of the study of works.

Other organizations providing technical and artistic support include The SouthEast Center for Dance Education, The Harlem Dance Foundation, the School of Dance at the New York State Summer School of the Arts and Quest/Arts for Everyone, an organization dedicated to providing arts opportunities for individuals and with disabilities.