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Dance, Dance, Dance!: Exploring Dance Collections at the Schomburg : Archival Collections
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
The Schomburg Center's Manuscripts Archives and Rare Books Division
135th Street Branch. Interior.
New York Public Library Archives, The New York Public Library. "135th Street Branch. Interior." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/92eadd7f-8071-ffa7-e040-e00a18064a9e
The Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture provides access to primary source materials created by and about Black people. This page will focus on different collections related to all forms of dance. You can expect to find Manuscripts, Letters, scrapbooks, and more!
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Images of the Nicholas Brothers dance team from the "Cotton Club Parade" program, circa 1938"
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Shogola Oloba dance troupe with Asadata Dafora (front, center) and Esther Rolle (front, right)"
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "Began capering and dancing with her."" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1897.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "Piper and Dancer. Tripoli. Dancing Woman. Sockna." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1821.
The American Negro Ballet (ANB) Company was formed by Eugene van Grona in 1934. Van Grona, a modern dancer trained by German choreographer Mary Wigman, immigrated to the United States in 1925. He formed the ANB, composed of thirty African American dancers, among them Lavinia Williams and Al Bledger, to showcase their talents as serious dance artists capable of more than jazz dancing.
The Helen Armstead-Johnson miscellaneous theater collections (HAJMTC) were formed by over two hundred file-folder level collections (one-three file folders per personality or event). document early dramatic actors, minstrel shows, vaudeville, musical revues, Broadway productions, and protest dramas, among others.
Joe Nash was a dancer, black dance historian, coordinator of black dance history courses at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater School in New York, and director and founder of the Multiethnic Christian Education Resources Center of the National Council of Churches.
Les Ballets Nègres, the first Black ballet company in Europe, was established by dancer and choreographer Berto Pasuka in London in 1946. Pasuka (1911-1963), a Jamaican, directed the company throughout its existence and choreographed ballets that dealt with African/Caribbean traditions and Black/white relationships, among them "De Prophet," based on an actual incident that occurred in Jamaica, "They Came," "Aggrey," "Market Day," and "Cabaret-1920."
“Negro Week" was a program on the contributions of blacks to American culture held at the New York World's Fair in July 1940, and consisted of festivals, exhibitions, song and dance recitals, choral and symphonic music, concerts, religious services, guest speakers, and a children's program
This collection contains personal papers, autobiographical sketch written in 1960, agreements, contracts, drafts of plays and performances, sheet music, programs, announcements with promotional releases, and news clippings relating to Dafora's career and to African dance forms he used in his performances and to African culture in general.
The Djola Branner papers, 1983-2010, document his personal life and professional career as a writer, poet, dancer, choreographer, actor, and educator. This series documents Branner's career as a writer, choreographer, director, playwright, actor, and performing artist, including his work with Pomo Afro Homos.
Lavinia Williams (1916-1989) was an African-American dancer, choreographer, and teacher. This collection contains materials such as dance instruction (class) notes, personal correspondence, and professional correspondence, the last of which pertains to Ballets d'Haiti performances and dance education. Included are two booklets written by Williams.
Nanette Bearden (née Rohan) was a fashion model, dancer, and founder of the Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theatre. The Nanette Bearden Papers document some aspects of Bearden's personal life and her careers as a fashion model and dancer/choreographer.
Sonja Dumas is a performer, choreographer, founder and artistic director of a dance company called Continuum Dance Project. As a dancer and choreographer, Dumas has toured and performed in the Caribbean and Europe. Dumas has also worked as the curator of several art exhibitions showcasing the works of Caribbean artists, directed and produced several short films and one documentary, and written stories for children and young adults. She also lectures in dance and performance studies at the University of Trinidad and Tobago.
Internationally known cabaret personality Bricktop, was born Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith in Alderson, West Virginia in 1894. Nicknamed "Bricktop" for her red hair, she began her career as an entertainer at the age of 16, performing on the vaudeville circuit. The Ada "Bricktop" Smith DuConge Papers, 1920s-1984, primarily document the latter part of Bricktop's life and career
Charles "Cookie" Cook was a vaudeville tap and acrobatic dancer and teacher for more than fifty years. Cook was one of the members of "The Copasetics", the fraternity of black entertainers that was influential in the revival of tap dancing in the late 1970s-1980s.
Donald Eno Washington is a performing dance artist and instructor with a specialty in dance of West Africa and Mali. He became the principal dancer for African dance company, "The Black and Tan Afro-American Revue",He conducted research into the dance of Mali and The Gambia, as well as the link between West African and popular African American dances of the twentieth century. The Personal series includes correspondence with his wife and sons and numerous personal letters from his many friends, many of which discuss his dancing and ability to teach and perform programs and flyers, a scrapbook, and news clippings and articles, primarily referring to Washington.
Maudelle Bass Weston, known professionally as Maudelle, began her formal dance education at Gray Conservatory of Music and Art in Los Angeles. She studied Nigerian dance with Asadata Dafora and Modupe Paris, and Liberian song and dance with Tony Massaqua. Maudelle was among the first African American women to dance on Broadway in Agnes DeMille Company's "Black Ritual" She also spent three years traveling in Latin America with a company called Arte Folklorico de Mexico. The Maudelle Weston series include programs and clippings pertaining to Mrs. Weston's career as a dancer during the 1940s-1960s.
Glory Van Scott is an actress, dancer, singer, published playwright and author. She is a former principal dancer with Katherine Dunham, Agnes DeMille and Talley Beatty companies and has performed in the United States and internationally, appearing in Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and on television. Wrote and composed eight musicals including "Miss Truth" as well as children's theatrical productions and children's books. Additionally, she was executive coordinator for Channel Thirteen's "Dance in America" series program.
Thaddeus Drayton (1893-1964) together with Rufus Greenlee (1893-1963), pioneered the "class act" tap style, which combined grace and elegance with precision soft-shoe tap dancingTheir act broke up in 1930; Drayton then formed a dance act with Lucille Smith in the 1940s known as "Teddy Drayton and Lucille.". The Thaddeus Drayton collection documents portions of his career as a member of the tap dance team of Drayton and Greenlee (Rufus).
Vincent Jubilee was a dancer in New York City, and shared an apartment with George Mills, another dancer. The collection contains nine letters (1978-1995) written to Jubilee. Choreographer and dancer George Mills is the primary correspondent. The subjects of Mills's letters range from Alvin Ailey to Clara Ward, his career in dance, as well as mutual acquaintances.