Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Dance, Dance, Dance!: Exploring Dance Collections at the Schomburg : Photographs and Prints Division

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

Divisions of the Schomburg Center

The Photographs and Prints division contain both documentary and fine art photographs, which document the history and culture of people of African descent worldwide. Here you can find photos and stills from dance classes, dance performances, and even social dances from different time periods.  

African-American Dance

Dancers performing the Cakewalk

Dancers performing the Cakewalk

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Dancers performing the Cakewalk" The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Lindy Hop showcase at the Renaissance Ballroom

Lindy Hop showcase at the Renaissance Ballroom

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Lindy Hop showcase at the Renaissance Ballroom" The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Female dancer in flowered dress

Female dancer in flowered dress

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Female dancer in flowered dress" The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Pearl Primus performing

Pearl Primus performing her work "African Ceremonial"

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Pearl Primus performing her work "African Ceremonial"" The New York Public Library Digital Collections

still shot of Arthur Miller in the ballet

Arthur Mitchell in George Balanchine's "Agon"

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Arthur Mitchell in George Balanchine's "Agon" " The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Photographic Collections

Dorothy Dandridge (left) with dance instructor Olga Lunick

Actress Dorothy Dandridge (left) with dance instructor Olga Lunick, circa 1951.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Actress Dorothy Dandridge (left) with dance instructor Olga Lunick, circa 1951." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1951.

Notable Collections

Helen Armstead Johnson Photograph Collection

 

Helen Armstead Johnson was the founder and director of the Armstead-Johnson Foundation for Theater Research, whose purpose was to collect, preserve, document and exhibit African American contributions to the American stage. The Helen Johnson Photograph Collection was collected by Johnson while researching the contributions to the stage by African American. This collection has dance material in formats such as 

  • Postcards 
  • Photographs 
  • Prints
  • & more 

The entire collection, consisting of several thousand photographs, posters, letters, scrapbooks, costumes and costume designs, recordings and other memorabilia, was donated to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in December 1996.

Contact sheet displaying portraits of "Shuffle Along" cast and crew, including Lottie Gee, Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle, Flournoy Miller, and Aubrey Lyles
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Contact sheet displaying portraits of "Shuffle Along" cast and crew, including Lottie Gee, Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle, Flournoy Miller, and Aubrey Lyles" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1921.

still of Destiné in Witch Doctor

Destiné in Witch Doctor
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Destiné in Witch Doctor" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1952.

 

Joe Nash Black Dance Photograph Collection

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. The Joe Nash Black Dance Photograph Collection was compiled by Nash to document and acknowledge the contributions of black dancers, choreographers and dance companies from the 1930s to the 1980s. The photograph collection consists of studio and candid portraits, views of rehearsals, and views of performances. 

Some of the dance styles depicted include

  • Ballet
  • Modern
  • African and African interpretive
  • Theatrical dance.

The photograph collection consists of three distinct series

  1. The Dancers Series: representing African-American dancers and choreographers, consists of individual and group studio portraits, candid portraits, and views of performances.
  2. The Dance Companies Series: represents mostly African-American dance companies, many based in New York City
  3. The Dance Styles Series: represents a number of historical, theatrical and international dance styles that depict individual dancers, groups of dancers, and dance companies, either American or from other countries