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Dance, Dance, Dance!: Exploring Dance Collections at the Schomburg : Moving Image and Recorded Sound

This research guide aims to give researchers an introduction to some of the dance collections that are housed across multiple departments within the Schomburg Center for Research in Black culture

About

The Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division collects and preserves audio and moving image (AMI) materials related to the experiences of people of African descent. In this division, they hold media formats such as:

  • VHS
  • DVD 
  • Vinyl 
  • Cassette Tapes
  • & more. 

Here you can listen to interviews of choreographers and performers, dance instruction videos, and other programs.

This division does take walk-ins, however, it is always better to make an appointment first 

The Ernie Smith Collection

The Ernie Smith Collection

The Ernie Smith Collection is a treasury of moving images for different kinds of media and genres, but all focused on Jazz and Jazz Dance performances. You can expect to find media such as: 

  • Feature-length films 
  • Film Clips
  • Short Films
  • Musical and Comedy Acts 
  • & More!

Featured Performers in this collection include Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole. 

Within the collection there are two compilations: 

  1.  The Ernie Smith Jazz and dance film collection: From Bessie to Miles lecture Compilation
  2.  Ernie Smith jazz and dance film collection: social, popular, and tap dancing lecture compilation

 

African Dance

Soolima Females Dancing.

Soolima Females Dancing.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "Soolima Females Dancing." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1825. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47da-6fb5-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Dancing in the many cultures is almost always tied to religion or some sort of sacred ceremony. There are dances to call forth the rain, dances for a good harvest, and even traditional dances one must do when they reach a certain age or milestone in their life. 

The Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division hold incredible audio and video recordings of different styles of African dance, interviews with African dance troupes and choreographers, and behind-the-scenes footage into the rehearsal process and early beginning of dance companies, performers, and choreographers. 

two groups of African dancers

Two African dances

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Two African dances" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1866. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/0d88f2b0-ada3-0133-4b51-00505686a51c

Cartooned image of Harlem residents social dancing

Harlem WPA Street Dance

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division, The New York Public Library. "Harlem WPA Street Dance" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1935 - 1943. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/4a6c0440-2893-0132-4636-58d385a7bbd0

Collections

Law! Miss Feely Whip! - wouldn't kill a skeeter!

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "'Law! Miss Feely Whip! - wouldn't kill a skeeter!'"" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1897. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47df-e54b-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99