resource list from dance faculty interviews

For the past year I have been working on a research project to understand the information needs of dance faculty in higher education, thanks in part to a research grant from the ALAO Research and Publications Committee and the support of two librarians, Alan Green at The Ohio State University and Sara MacDonald at The University of the Arts.

The academic discipline of dance has a relatively short history. Dance was first accepted in higher education through an association with physical education. Eventually the discipline became aligned with the arts, particularly music and theatre. Given the brief history of dance as an academic endeavor, there is a corresponding lack of information about dancers and their research needs. In the past thirty years, dance departments have moved away from being tangential to developing into independent, research-based programs. Academic libraries must support the performance, research, and pedagogy of these programs.

Dance is a multidisciplinary and multicultural practice. I interviewed twelve dance faculty members from three universities. While not able to be generalized, interview data from this diverse group of practitioners will provide a glimpse into the research behaviors of dance scholars in higher education. Their information needs and library use are not widely known, particularly in regard to issues of access to historical materials and new technology preferences.

The only formal study into the information needs of dancers is a 1996 master’s thesis by Kent State University student Dawn M. Grattino. She surveyed 70 dance professionals living in Ohio about their information-seeking habits and library use. Providing an updated data set on dancers’ use of the Internet and other technology will be paramount to my investigation. Additionally, there are few research projects about the information needs of performing artists in general. Joe Clark, head of the Performing Arts Library at Kent State University, recently investigated the format preferences (print vs. electronic) of performing arts students. His research provides a foundation for my own analysis of dance faculty information needs.

I hope this research will be of value to librarians as they determine collection development practices and user services for their particular dance and performing arts programs. Because many librarians charged with liaison responsibilities to dance departments do not have backgrounds in dance (like myself), the results of the research will enable them to keep current on dancers’ information needs and desired services.

At this point, I have finished the interview transcriptions and I wanted to share a resource list. These are sources – organizations, journals, websites, and tools – that were mentioned by at least one dance faculty. It’s a preliminary glimpse into the research practices of this diverse group and a quick way for other dance librarians to check their collections and knowledge-base.

Clark, Joe C. “Format Preferences of Performing Arts Students.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39 (2013): 297-307.

Grattino, Dawn M. A Survey of the Information-Seeking Practices of Dance Professionals in Ohio. MLS thesis. Kent State University, 1996.



American Dance Festival

particularly Dancing in the Light

Congress on Research in Dance

publishes Dance Research Journal

Danspace Project

International Council of Kinetography Laban

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive

Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies

and the work of Irmgard Bartenieff

Movement Research

publishes Performance Journal

National Association of Schools of Dance

National Dance Education Organization

publishes two journals: Journal of Dance Education and  Dance Education in Practice (new this spring)

New York Live Arts and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company

Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association

 publishes The Journal of Popular Culture and The Journal of American Culture

side note: This is the best conference I’ve ever attended!

Society of Dance History Scholars

publishes Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies and a monograph series Studies in Dance History

Society for Dance Research

publishes Dance Research 


other journals and publications/productions

Are We Here Yet? Damaged Goods, Meg Stuart


Contact Quarterly


journal from the Body-Mind Centering Association and the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

Dance Chronicle

Dance on Its Own Terms: Histories and Methodologies 

Dancing Lives: Five Female Dancers from the Ballet d’Action to Merce Cunningham

Dancing Times

Exploring Body-Mind Centering: An Anthology of Experience and Method

Eye on Dance and the Arts Video Catalog

particularly The VideoDance Project

International Journal of Screendance

Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices

Journal of Movement Arts Literacy

Theatre Survey

The New Yorker

The Drama Review

You might be wondering why Dance Magazine isn’t on this list. One artist mentioned it and I believe she made explicit other faculty members’ thoughts when she said, “if I could get it for free, I would probably look at it when I’m in the bathroom.” (I plan on working this quote into my final publication.)


subscription databases

Gender Studies Database 

International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance


Faculty that use this (contemporary/postmodern) love it, though wish there were more performances. They aren’t clear on two things: that ontheboards is continuing to grow (it started in 2010) and that it is subscription.

ProQuest Historial Newspapers


I asked specifically about Alexander Street Press’ Dance in Video. Some faculty use it, but no one really likes it.


libraries, archives, and museums

Dance Heritage Coalition

International Ballet Scenery and Costume Designs, 1941-1951

Library of Congress

Merce Cunningham Trust

The New York Public Library

Rambert Archives

Sokolow Dance Foundation and the work of Anna Sokolow

Stravinsky Foundation

V&A Museum – Theatre and Performance


websites and tools

Accelerated Motion: Towards a New Direction in Dance Literacy


Dance in Israel


empyre listserv

Finale music notation software


KineScribe app

Great Performances

The Guardian website

Motion Bank

The New York Times website

NPR Podcasts

Synchronous Objects

Ubuweb and Ubuweb Dance

side note on video: Everyone uses YouTube and Vimeo for video. YouTube first, for almost all participants, though impermanence and copyright were often called into question about the service. Netflix was also mentioned for video access.

side note on music: For music, iTunes and Spotify rule. Those needing music for performances will edit using GarageBand, though working with composers and having live music is mostly preferred.

side note on networking: Facebook is used much more heavily than I would have imagined (I’m in the group of 30-somethings moving away from the social network) and Skype is preferred to phone calls, when possible.


people, places, and other dance companies

Pina Bausch

Chocolate Factory Theater

Faye Driscoll

William Forsythe

Martha Graham

Joyce Theater

Deborah Hay

La Pocha Nostra and Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Ralph Lemon

Liz Lerman

Barak Marshall

Meredith Monk


Moira Shearer

Show Box LA

Doug Varone

Wire Monkey