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Music Division





Special Collections in Music
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Special Collections in Theater
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Special Collections in Dance
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“Mother, My Ruin Is Accomplished!” Illustration from Luigi Satori. Modern Dances (Colleg[e]ville, Indiana: St. Joseph's Printing Office, 1910; GV1741.S3). General Collections.

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An American Ballroom Companion brings together dance manuals from the General Collections, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, and Music Division to form a unique collection that exists only online. Of particular interest here are the antidance treatises that warn young women against the immorality of the dance. T. A. Faulkner, famous for his From the Ballroom to Hell (1892), writes in the sequel to that volume, Lure of the Dance (1916):

My especial aim at this time is to show that the strength of the so-called “White Slave Traffic” is the dance and the dance halls. Unsophisticated young working women, simply desiring amusement and recreation after their arduous daily toil, are trapped in these places like flies in a spider's web. 12

The full text of these antidance treatises and digitized images of them are available online.

Franziska Boas (1902-1988) was a pioneering dancer, percussionist, teacher, ethnologist, and dance therapist. The daughter of the noted anthropologist Franz Boas, she was, like her father, a committed activist for racial equality and social justice. She worked to teach young people about the value of dance as a means of communication. She pioneered dance as therapy; encouraged students to expand their own creativity through improvisation; combined the study of dance with ethnology; and broke down the racial barriers that stood in the way of African Americans wishing to pursue careers in dance.

The Franziska Boas Collection (36 linear feet, 95 containers, approximately 13,250 items) consists of choreographic scores, music manuscripts and printed music, her personal and general correspondence, business files, personal files, writings and research by and about Boas, clippings, iconography, miscellaneous items, and audiovisual material. It spans Boas's career, from her academic training at Barnard College through her professional work as a dance teacher, accompanist, therapist, and ethnologist, including documentation of her work as a social activist and as a community educator after her retirement. Audiovisual materials transferred to the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division include audio tapes of lectures by Boas and film footage of her performances.

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Alexandra Danilova, as Fanny Cerrito. Carl Van Vechten, photographer. 1948. Carl Van Vechten Photograph Collection. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZ62-121326 (b&w film copy neg.)

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Ballerina Alexandra Danilova (1903-1997) was a star attraction with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, whose American tours helped popularize classical ballet in this country during the 1930s and 1940s. She eventually settled in the U.S. and became an American citizen in 1946. After her retirement from the stage, Danilova was choreographer for several seasons at the Metropolitan Opera. Respected as a teacher, she gave classes at the School of American Ballet in New York City from 1964 to 1989. The Alexandra Danilova Collection (30 linear feet, 46 containers, approximately 4,500 items) contains more than two thousand photographs dating from the 1920s to the 1990s, correspondence, writings, including drafts of her autobiography Choura: The Memoirs of Alexandra Danilova (1986), programs, press clippings, and awards. Audiovisual materials, which have been transferred to the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, include videos of an interview with Dick Cavett in 1978 and the 1989 Kennedy Center Honors at which she was an honoree.

Dancer Gwen Verdon (1925-2000) is best known for her work in the Broadway productions of Can-Can (1953), Damn Yankees (1955), New Girl in Town (1957), Redhead (1959), Sweet Charity (1966), and Chicago (1975). The Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon Collection (133 linear feet, 114 containers, approximately 54,840 items) reflects her close collaboration with choreographer and director Bob Fosse, whom she married in 1960. Extensive production and project files are arranged by show title. Other material pertaining specifically to Gwen Verdon is located in the “Verdon: Career Miscellany” series. Scrapbooks belonging to both Fosse and Verdon chronicle their respective careers with clippings, photographs, and other memorabilia. Audiovisual materials, including record albums, audiotapes, audiocassettes, compact discs, videocassettes, and films, have been transferred to the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

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Martha Graham. Arnold Genthe, photographer. 1928. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-G39-5394-006 (interpositive)

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Martha Graham (1894-1991) redefined modern dance in the twentieth century and influenced countless creative artists through her work. Her prodigious repertoire, original dance technique, distinctive theatrical productions, and fruitful artistic collaborations stand as treasures of the nation's cultural heritage. The Martha Graham Collection (unprocessed) is strong in its holdings of music scores, many of which are autograph composers' manuscripts annotated with Graham's notes. There are also extensive holdings of photographs of Graham and her company. Other material includes books from her personal library, press clippings, posters, and correspondence.

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