Thoughts on the COVID-19 Digital Dance Landscape

by: Rebecca Salzer, Project Director

For the past several years, I’ve been writing and speaking at conferences, urging a more open-minded approach to making full dances available online.  My credo has been that in order to stay relevant in a quickly-changing world, dance as a field needs to think through, understand, and drive:

  1. The processes by which dance is recorded
  2. The crafting of spaces in which recorded dance is received
  3. The ways in which we provide access to recorded dance – including how we respectfully and equitably represent artists, contexts, and styles

Watching the explosion of live and recorded dance online over the past ten days has been truly incredible.  It is a testament to the strength of our community and our commitment to keeping our artform vital. 

There is also something deeply upsetting about seeing these video riches after spending years chronicling the sparseness of full-length dance recordings available to educators, many of whom are still relying on VHS tapes of Free to Dance.  It feels similar in some ways to how internet providers told us that data limits were necessary for the system to function.  But now, miraculously, courtesy of our national emergency, we all suddenly have unlimited data.

The swift transition has also raised some concerns that I feel are important to voice, not just for this unprecedented moment, but for where we find ourselves once we’re able to reconstruct our public lives.

First, as much as I’ve been pushing for accessibility, the panic of the last ten days has, in many cases, involved broad sharing of art for free.  I think this is generous and wonderful and soul-sustaining in these difficult times.  I also wonder if it sets a precedent that will make it more difficult for artists to be compensated for digital manifestations of their work in the future.  Whatever your feeling toward dance on screens, digital space is a key performance venue.  It will certainly continue to exist alongside live performance, and its importance in terms of both exposure and compensation is only growing.

I’ve also been troubled by the here-and-gone/Snapchat mentality with which many of these videos are being shared.  I understand that artists, presenting organizations, and collection-holders may feel that making recordings available temporarily is a way to keep audiences interested without completely giving away the art (see monetization point above).  But, let me tell you, it hamstrings educators. 

I can’t teach with your temporarily-available video. If I could watch your work repeatedly, I could share it with my students.  Actually, seeing your amazing work has given me an idea for an entire unit – no wait, an entire course!  I want to hire you to do a residency at my university!  When are you next scheduled to perform it, because I would like to bring my class to see it performed live?  I’m also looking for a topic for my senior thesis/graduate dissertation/monograph, and I’m deeply inspired by what you’re doing!

And, dear artist/presenting organization/collection-holder, please know that even now, on lock-down, I’m still not going to have the chance to watch your temporarily-available video.  I will look at the title, get excited, bookmark the page, and then have to resume home-schooling my kids, dealing with my new online work universe, and rationing squares of toilet paper.

In all seriousness, though, I realize I’m just highlighting problems.  The solutions are not easy, and this is why the Dancing Digital Project is just the latest chapter of a 30-plus years push to better preserve and create access to dance recordings. If nothing else, this current moment reveals the kind of community and cooperation that are necessary ingredients to any solution.  Especially now that this panic-sharing has given us a glimpse of the wonderful dance recordings that exist, we need to work together to turn our increasingly fragmented artistic landscape into a sustainable, accessible, and connected legacy. 

One Educator’s Response to the Gap in Online Dance Resources

by: Melanie Aceto, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo

Access to recordings of complete dances

One of the greatest challenges in teaching dance technique and composition that I have faced over the past 15 years is my limited access to recordings of complete dances. In this post, I share a bit about my needs and challenges as an educator in an effort to begin to address some of these deficiencies as part of the Dancing Digital working group.

When I started teaching dance composition 15 years ago, I was not interested in showing my students the handful of professionally published DVDs of the reputed pioneers of modern dance that I saw in dance history class many years prior. I wanted to show them the works of the artists I had just left in NYC. So, I called up David Dorfman, Brian Brooks, Monica Barnes, Kate Weare, David Parsons, Ron Brown, Doug Varone, Sean Curran, Stephen Petronio, and many others, asking them to share their work with me. Most did. These DVDs were largely recordings of recent complete concerts typically sent to presenters and granting agencies. At first, I worked with the library at the University at Buffalo where I was on faculty. The library would purchase the DVDs for a small fee, incorporate them into their catalog, and make them available for in-library viewing only. In an effort to make works even more easily accessible for my students, the works were later sent directly to me by the artists in online links with passwords, under the agreement that I was only sharing these works with my composition classes. For a few years this worked well, but it quickly became challenging to show a current body of work that was also diverse.  For instance, some choreographers would only share works that were 10 years old or more. In addition, as years passed, some choreographers grew in fame and were no longer responding to my emails. I was having to navigate increasingly through management companies instead of communicating directly with the artists. The pay-off was very little for the great effort it took to connect with artists and managers for records of work. Through this process, it became evident that my early success in acquiring works to show was based on my personal relationship with these artists, not on the choreographers’ eagerness to share works with my composition classes. Personal relationships are great for acquiring resources, but they often too narrowly reflect of our own training and aesthetic biases and are difficult to maintain over time. I largely gave up on acquiring new works from choreographers in the U.S. and started purchasing Dance for Camera DVDs because they were easy to obtain, affordable, and showed complete works. It was during these “I give up” years that I was put in touch with Rebecca Salzer at the University of Alabama who shared my passion for the need for accessibility of dance for teaching in higher education.

Access to live dance presentations

I have found that it is not easy to see live dance while residing on most college campuses, the majority of which are not situated in urban cultural centers.

I was straight out of New York City my first year on faculty at the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Brockport. Brockport brought in guest artists each semester for full evening performances.  One hour west of Brockport was The University at Buffalo’s (UB) Center for the Arts, which brought in companies as well. In an effort to expose my Brockport students to more live dance, I arranged for tickets and carpools to the dance concerts at UB. Two years later when I took a position at the University at Buffalo, I arranged for tickets and carpools to the dance concerts at Brockport. This proved unsustainable. The students were unfamiliar with the companies that were performing, so not many were eager to spend the time and money to see the concerts. If the dancers had a weekend night free from rehearsals and performing, they did not want to drive one hour to see a performance.  Even though students were concerned that they were unfamiliar with artists in the field to know who they wanted to work with when they graduated, they were not able or willing to put in the effort during the academic year to see the few artists that were “nearby”. I no longer wanted to press students to go – so I now go alone.

I am still on faculty at UB, and I drive one hour to Brockport or the University of Rochester, 1.5 hours to Nazareth college (Rochester), two hours to Toronto, two hours to Alfred University, three hours to Cleveland, and seven hours to NYC to see live dance. That is a lot of work to see live dance. I feel it necessary to note that I do not have children or aging parents to care for. I can more easily afford the “luxury” of seeing live dance than can those who must attend to family.

Access to streaming of dance events

What is it that I am hoping for? Starting with concert dance, something in the model of Met Opera on Demand[1] would provide much needed access to complete dances from around the globe[2]. While I would still make the drive to dance events “nearby,” more access would allow me to experience the diversity of the field as well as share that with my students. The thought of being able to pull up a dance as easily as I can play a piece of music is invigorating.  Sharing lectures, sports games, public events, gaming, music concerts, and many other events in real time has been made possible by fields enduring growing pains and addressing problems of access. I envision the same for dance. The ability to easily access the vast richness of my own field would sustain me for another 15 years of teaching!

Access to repertory

It is typical in higher education for students to learn complete dances (repertory) from a primary source dance maker or a secondary source répétiteur. Although I understand that this method allows for dance to be transmitted in a way that attends to concerns about appropriation, attribution, and authenticity, it reaches only a limited number of students. I wonder about new ways of sharing repertory via video that would meet the needs of both educators and dancemakers. With younger artists more and more comfortable sharing, and the internet becoming the center of information exchange, I am hopeful that thoughtful new ways to transmit repertory via video might be possible.

Access to archives

While individuals, public and private institutions, and universities are moving to publish more recordings, photos, written materials and physical articles, I have not found a centralized way to search these archives, and I have found it especially difficult to find complete recordings of dance. I would like easy online access to these rich archives that exist throughout the world.  Being able to make use of what is already available would be a huge step forward in terms of access.

Access to supporting materials

In addition to recorded performances, I would also love access to process footage, rehearsal footage, annotated footage, artists’ notes, interviews, essays, and commentary for current and historical works. These materials would undeniably inform the study of dance past and present for me and my students, as historical, cultural, and contextual resources offer a unique window into understanding, responding and connecting to dance. 

Moving Forward

I acknowledge the unique complexities that dance presents as a time-based, visual, and largely collaborative form. Concerns about navigating intellectual property rights for online materials are very real, and misunderstandings of legal issues (such as Fair Use) and attitudes within the field contribute to the dearth of access. However, I believe that, fundamentally, artists want to share their work with audiences. I maintain that it is possible to approach legal, ethical, and aesthetic obstacles to access with communal energy and with inspired, creative thinking.


[2] I acknowledge that embedded in this need is the assumption of the ability and desire to record the dance. Not all dance should be, wants to be, or can be recorded.

On Sustainability and Access

by: Eugenia Kim, doctoral candidate

The questions of sustainability and access are crucial for any content-driven digital project in the 21st century. They are also some of the most difficult questions to answer.

It was toward the end of two long but fruitful days that we sat down to listen to and discuss several presentations on these two topics. Our moderator was Sybil Huskey, and our panelists were (in order of presentation) myself, Libby Smigel, Lane Czaplinski and Susan McGreevy-Nichols. This particular combination of presenters reflected a wide range of experience and perspectives. As such, rather than simply reporting the events of the session as they happened, I have briefly summarized each presentation and identified key points that were raised by various members of the group.

Sybil began the discussion by establishing a definition of sustainability and access. There are, of course, many aspects of access, and it is important to note that our session did not focus on access as it specifically pertains to ADA regulations, nor to open access of software, e.g., the shared development of code. She defined these various types of access and focused our conversation on several main objectives. A selection of these definitions and objectives included:


  • Sustainability: the use of resources without the resources running out
    • Five roots: capacity, fitness, resilience, diversity and balance
  • Access: being able to get to what you need


  1. Discuss what is needed for a pilot’s “digital home.” (e.g., What functions are necessary?)
  2. Discuss how resources will be obtained and maintained.
  3. Discuss financial sustainability of the project.

After Sybil’s opening, my presentation focused on how sustainability is often where a digital project fails. Several factors are responsible for this, including the omission of sustainability considerations in initial project planning, a frequent reliance on limited-term funding, and the challenge of building audience use and demand. In light of these factors, I offered two suggestions: 1) to no longer think of sustainability as making something “in perpetuity,” and 2) to refresh content and interface in order to maintain relevance.

Libby followed up with a perspective formed by years of working with non-profit organizations. She suggested focusing on building effective partnerships with organizations that have good user networks, as they are in touch with what content the general public is interested in. Other important points included (1) rethinking accessibility in terms of technology, (2) finding ways to measure the impact of digital dance repositories on community, and (3) learning to discuss uncomfortable collections, such as those that preserve art that has drawn on racial stereotypes.

In the third presentation, Lane focused on the value of video as a primary form of performance documentation for the future and the need for sustainable ways to create access to this documentation. For, which he founded, Lane’s strategy was to take an off-the-shelf mentality to starting up their services instead of developing bespoke solutions. He also expressed a particular interest in bringing attention to marginalized populations, specifically artists whose work or stories are not often given exposure.

Susan wrapped up the session by showcasing the Online Professional Development Institute (OPDI) developed by the National Dance Educator’s Organization. The OPDI could prove useful to the Dancing Digital Project as it distributes content to users who might not normally be able to access it. Pairing OPDI courses with new content from Dancing Digital could also help build enthusiasm for the project.

After the presentations, the panel opened discussion to the other attendees. Some key points that were raised during this discussion were:

  • The importance of understanding what artists may or may not be doing as part of their practice and how this empowers them (Lane);
  • Preservation through propagation of materials online, specifically with the logic that it is better to have a lot of copies many places in case one source goes down (Harmony Bench);
  • The cost of video storage is much higher than text for multiple reasons, including that video also requires accompanying text, not just metadata (Harmony);
  • Given the variance in size of video files depending on quality, uncertainty as to how many videos can be stored within a given block of set storage; similarly, questions of how to allocate percentages of that block based on type of content (Libby);
  • That fungibility is a key element of sustainability, as something that’s unalterable has a shorter life (Peter Jaszi, Rebecca Salzer);
  • The need for users to be enticed to use a resource, feel self-empowered, and excited (Susan, Imogen Smith);
  • That curating content for users can serve to guide and excite users about content that they were not aware of (Shana Habel);
  • That there are still challenges in identifying and collecting content for legal use, and the problem of needing initial content to entice new users (Melanie Aceto).

From the beginning, the Dancing Digital team knew that sustainability and access were going to be complicated. This symposium session clarified the complexity of sustainability as an issue and brought to light ideas that we, as a group, may not have previously considered. Although there were no clear answers as to how to guarantee a steady stream of funding or increase the user base, the additional issues raised in this session continue to help inform the team’s approach.

Innovative Digital Humanities Research in Dance

by: Hannah Kosstrin, Ph.D.

The third session during our May 2019 Dancing Digital Symposium was entitled Innovative Digital Humanities Research in Dance. Its focus on digital research tools for dance yielded discussion about the kinds of modalities Dancing Digital might consider for a project. The panel members presented a range of projects, from different kinds of mapping dance data to analytical video annotation to dance notation software. The projects each build on a set of analog or kinesthetic data points off which researchers can build their analyses.

Each of the presenters detailed their current digital projects to address these objectives:

  • Investigate novel approaches to digital dance scholarship
  • Consider how a resource could connect to and enhance these approaches
  • Examine select case studies and subsequent discussion

The panel members included:

Melanie Aceto, University at Buffalo

Harmony Bench, The Ohio State University

Sybil Huskey, University of North Carolina Charlotte

Hannah Kosstrin, The Ohio State University

Eugenia Kim, City University of Hong Kong, Moderator

The following question arose from this session:

  • Is “digital dance scholarship” largely restricted to historical preservation and analysis? Or, like digital scholarship at large, can it be about using digital technology to transform existing works, how they are accessed, how are they disseminated, how they are alternatively preserved and promoting interdisciplinary collaboration? 

The following ideas addressing this question grew out of the conversation:

  • Representation of dance history versus analysis versus creation
  • How digitally-transferred embodiment supports dance history
  • How to make existing work more available through existing platforms
  • How to create unique works through digital technology
  • How to encourage user participation and data contribution

The main question and the ensuring discussion impacts the kinds of digital modalities and resources that the Dancing Digital project might consider. For example, many traditional digital humanities projects analyze existing data sets, whereas these presenters’ projects generate digital dance data that open new avenues for analysis. What might a digital dance platform offer that includes both dance documentation and tools for analysis? How might we harness users’ digital interactivity to bring them into a dance work through active engagement instead of passive viewing? How can digital tools enable analysis alongside documentation? How do the kinds of questions these researchers ask through their projects enable new ways of engaging with dance data? Since the fields of dance and dance studies have a practice of valuing non-traditional research output, there is considerable potential for digital dance projects to generate a research niche that speaks across disciplines.

The Dancing Digital project is exploring many points of articulation for interacting with these projects specifically and also to advance the ideas, modalities, and data sets that these projects introduce.

The History of Efforts to Improve Access to Online Dance Resources: Opening Symposium Remarks

by: Sali Ann Kriegsman

Thank you, Libby.  And thank you, Rebecca, for inviting me to the Symposium and for spearheading this effort. Though I haven’t been active in this aspect of the field for some time, I thought I could shed some light on previous efforts to broaden access to moving images of dance, efforts I have been involved with over many years. 

This is by no means a comprehensive survey of projects undertaken nation-wide.  There are many more individuals and organizations whose critical work has informed and led us to this moment. 

Almost fifty years ago, in 1970, my husband, Alan M. Kriegsman, and I co-authored an article titled “The Unstudied Art” in Cultural Affairs Journal.  We asked: “How is it that educated men and women can be conversant with the plastic arts, music, drama, and literature, yet grossly ignorant of dance?”

We saw an urgent need for revolutionary advances in notation and recording techniques and noted that an American Film Institute was just founded in response to “a growing sense of need for a national organization devoted to the art of film.” (I was working at AFI at the time).  And we said that “the benefits that could accrue from a comparable center for the preservation, study, and dissemination of dance should be obvious.”

In the early 1980’s, as dance consultant for the Smithsonian, I curated a series of public programs that included Merce Cunningham speaking about and showing his innovative videodance investigations, Ernie Smith, private collector of rare tap and Lindy footage, showing film clips of Bill Robinson at the National Portrait Gallery, and live performances of veteran tap artists along with the film “No Maps on My Taps.”

During the 1980s and 1990s at burgeoning tap festivals, artists and a few interested parties (myself included) would stay up all night in a hotel room binging on grainy videos of tap artists.  When technology democratized and could be held in our hands, tap artists were among the first to glom on, to trade and share clips of legendary and contemporary dancers —it was how they learned the history of their art, alongside living tap elders telling their stories–and it spurred a new generation’s creative work.

At the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dance Program’s dance/film/video category supported a wide range of creative and documentation projects, and collaboratively with the Media Arts program, funded TV broadcast series such as “Alive from Off-Center” and “Dance in America.”

In 1990,  “Images of American Dance:  Documenting and Preserving a Cultural Heritage” was published.   This report, based on a study co-sponsored by the NEA’s Dance Program and the Andrew E. Mellon Foundation, surveyed for the first time the existing system of dance documentation and preservation nation-wide, how transactions were conducted within the system, and to what extent the needs of the dance community were being met. 

Our focus was on users, and the need to equip artistic and archival communities in their efforts to build, strengthen and extend dance documentation and preservation efforts at the local, regional and national levels in order to assure that the legacy of dance would endure.

Among the study’s conclusions most relevant to our symposium is this one:

“‘Access’” has become everyone’s byword—for the artists who create the work and records of it, for the repositories that house those records, and for scholars and others who want to use those materials.  ….Video cameras and computers have raised everyone’s expectations of what should be available on demand…”

It identified among barriers to easy access, “the incomplete records of what collections exist and what is in them, the conflict between some needs of archive users and the limitations on physical property rights and intellectual rights, and the tension between the need for ‘hands-on” use and long-term preservation concerns.”

And it concluded: “Outreach, education and broad public access to the field’s rich and varied traditions are essential if dance is to overcome its persistent marginalization among the framework of America’s artistic and intellectual discoveries.”

The study spurred the creation in 1992 of the Dance Heritage Coalition which, in its first decade, made major strides cataloging and coordinating efforts among its principal member archives and collections and accomplished much much more in the years that followed.  Another result was the Pew Charitable Trust’s funding of the National Initiative to Preserve America’s Dance (NIPAD) 1993-2000, and in 1998-2000, the UCLA National Dance/Media Leadership Project.

When I left the Arts Endowment in 1995 for Jacob’s Pillow, Norton Owen and I made the Pillow’s archives and the potential of its holdings a priority. It was through the Pillow’s unique setting and mission that I could clearly see the rich connections to be made between practice, performance, making work, preservation, and access to dance’s live and recorded history.

In 2001, Dr. Alberta Arthurs former Director for Arts and Humanities at Rockefeller Foundation, met with me to discuss the challenge of providing access to moving images of dance.  By then collections had become better known and accessible for study and new streaming technologies showed great potential. But access to these materials was limited to the physical premises of the holders.

Dr. Arthurs secured a one-year grant from the Mellon Foundation to explore issues involved in building a “Digital Dance Library”

The proposal to the Mellon Foundation grew out of the need, acknowledged by the dance field, for an accessible collection of full-length recordings of historically and aesthetically important works of American dance.  Although such images were essential for scholarship and teaching, they were not available in a way that encouraged discovery and learning.

The Digital Dance Library Planning project went “live” from March 2002-June 2003.   It was designed to find out whether it could be possible, using digital technology, to stream moving images of dance in a curated, organized, protected, technically accessible system, to the educational institutions, teachers, students and practitioners who need them.

Not only, we proposed, might a Digital Dance Library advance dance literacy but it could greatly enrich scholarship and learning in the humanities and other disciplines where dance has largely been absent, and it could fuel and inspire artistic development and creativity.

The project was, I believe, the first, to bring artistic, technological, intellectual property legal and business sectors together to study needs, capacities and barriers.

The challenge of envisioning a streamed dance library was undertaken by a team of researchers working from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  I was one of four principal investigators, each working in an area of expertise relevant to the study. Dr. Arthurs led the effort. The investigators (each of us directing a specialized sub-team or group) were:  Stephen Brier, co-director of the New Media Lab at the CUNY Graduate Center, on technology; Andrew Taylor, director of the Bolz Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison on the business model; Jane Ginsburg, faculty director of Columbia University’s Lernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts on intellectual property issues, and yours truly on artistic content.

The process was enriched and also complicated by the use of specialist teams who knew little about each others’ specializations, and were located at distances from each other. (This was before Skype). Much of what was being studied had not been studied in this inclusive way before.

The team asked these questions, among others:

  • What full-length works could best be used to test the concept of a core library of American dance? I should clarify that this first group was never meant to serve as a canon. Of course, any selection of material will have deficiencies; I can go into how the database of works was compiled later if anyone would like. 
  • Would libraries purchase or license an inventory of moving images? 
  • Would dance professionals contribute to a single streamed archive? 
  • What is the potential for classroom use of such images? 
  • Could rights holders, ranging from home video to Hollywood moviemakers, from costume designers to dancers, be categorized and reached, and would they agree to cooperate? 
  • Was technology available to accommodate the demands of the project or would it need to be invented? 
  • Could marketing and sales systems be designed to promote sustainable operations of such a project?

Three techniques were particularly important: interviewing, modeling and convening.

We each conducted interviews, whether surveys (with dance scholars, with potential users) or interviews with individual experts (particularly in the law and in technology). Because information and data were located in so many closely held sub-fields, getting information directly and individually turned out to be quite important.

Models were produced.  Examples included: a model database of essential dance materials, a template of legal concerns, descriptions and analyses of information technology business models, the design and demonstration of the actual digital delivery system.  Whether in written form, in charts or on spreadsheets, or were physically constructed – models proved to be useful tools for communication from one area of expertise to another, and they tended to make synergies, connections, and gaps easier to see.

In November 2002, the team brought together forty leading professionals in the field at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City for a daylong presentation and exchange of findings and ideas.  A demonstration showed the potential and possible features of such a library.

(After watching our demo, which used as examples moving images from Jacob’s Pillow’s archives, an artist exclaimed how moving it was to see her forbears, and said she’d want her work to be included if the project was a “go”.)

Wrapping up our study, we prepared full reports on our process and work and issues to be further explored.  The Mellon Foundation encouraged an application for a pilot phase in which we would build out and test a full working model.  Application was made. Unfortunately, Mellon did not support the next phase.

Today we see tremendous advances in technologies, robotics, streaming, and the threshold possibilities of AI.  Legal guidelines regarding fair use have been thoughtfully laid out for testing more broadly.

These major challenges remained:  where to house, develop and maintain a sustainable, protected system; intellectual property rights, access for and to whom.

The technology is here; privacy rights, ownership, fair use and compensation are being fiercely debated in other sectors; dancers are creating work using new technologies.  But the lingering deficit of readily accessible full-length recordings of dance remains a major challenge both for the dance community and for the public.

I have a couple of broad questions I hope we can explore here:

  • For and from whom can national access be achieved?
  • How broad or narrow are the constituencies to be served?
  • Where and how can such a system be supported and sustained—financially and administratively?

Before I yield to my colleagues, I want to give a shout out to the many individuals, organizations and efforts that I haven’t named here, whose dedicated work has led us to this moment.   

An Introduction to Dancing Digital

by: Rebecca Salzer, Project Director

Welcome to the Dancing Digital project!  We are a group of dance artists, educators, scholars, archivists, and legal and systems design specialists, working with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create and facilitate more centralized, accessible, equitable, and forward-thinking dance resources online.

Our project seeks to move toward solving the following vast problem: despite advances in the technologies that allow recording and sharing, significant barriers still prevent access to diverse and high-quality recorded dance materials. Current dance materials online are fragmented and difficult to find, excerpted rather than complete, and heavily Eurocentric.  These issues profoundly impede dance scholarship and education and limit the potential for artists to reach audiences.

Our work builds upon and acknowledges previous efforts, including the Digital Dance Library Planning Project led by Dr. Alberta Arthurs (2001-2003), the Dance Heritage Coalition’s (DHC) Secure Media Network pilot project led by Libby Smigel (2007-2014), and the DHC’s fair use forums that convened the field on how to balance the needs of dance scholars and educators with the rights of creators, resulting in their 2008 Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Dance-Related Materials

The lack of access to recorded dance materials has complex causes, from a tangle of intellectual property concerns to the funding limitations of individual artists, companies, and collection holders.  To move the needle on these larger issues, this project has narrowed its focus in the following ways:

  • Dancing Digital begins by addressing the needs of dance educators and scholars because these needs – which, in themselves, are vast – are immediate.  They include improvements in the quantity, production-value, curation, diversity, completeness, and searchability of recorded dance works. With so many within the field of dance working fluidly between practice, theory, and education, addressing the needs of dance scholarship and education will impact the field as a whole.
  • Dancing Digital’s focus in this phase of the project is on modeling innovative and transformative uses of dance recordings rather than on collecting or aggregating a large corpus of recorded dance works. The hope is that this model will inspire collection-holders, dance companies, and individual artists to grant access to their holdings, resulting in a sea-change in the field’s attitude towards sharing work online and greater access.

With support from a Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, nineteen working group members and advisors convened at the University of Alabama for a three-day symposium in May 2019.  Our goal was to address a series of guiding questions in order to survey and evaluate the online dance resources that currently exist and envision a new resource that would build on or augment them. The blog posts that follow will provide a summary of six panel discussions driven by these guiding questions, and addressing the following topics:

  • The history of efforts to improve access to online dance resources
  • The needs of dance scholars and educators
  • Current, innovative digital humanities research in dance
  • Intellectual property, fair use, and artist involvement
  • Curation & inclusion: creating a diverse and contemporary collection
  • Sustainability and open access

Follow this blog to read summaries of these sessions, learn about our upcoming public presentations, and get involved.  We are currently in the project’s planning phase, moving toward publishing a position paper (a term we prefer to “white paper”) and seeking funding for the project’s implementation. Dancing Digital is about field-wide cooperation. While our project is developing new models, we also seek to aggregate and amplify existing archival and sharing efforts.  We welcome your feedback and interest.