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Letter from Ruth Page to Charles Grass (undated).
Charles Grass Collection.
Dance For Life 2011 - Part 2 (2).JPG
 Peggy Sutton leading class (undated). Peggy Sutton Collection.

What is a dance archive and is it distinct from other archives?

Dancers and dance organizations often use their own archives to understand and remember past performances, choreography, and technique as well as their personal and organizational histories. Those histories are rooted in the bodies and memories of individuals and communities, in dance studios and theaters, and in material objects such as photographs, videos, programs, and choreographic and design materials. A dance archive is not static, but is a process. People constantly engage with the materials of the dance archive to understand, to reinterpret, and to create new art.


5 Elements of the Dance Archive

  • Bodies

  • Objects

  • Spaces

  • Memories

  • Communities

Sisters, Mary Gray and Susan Kaplan, remember summers spent at the Mabel Katherine Pearse Dance Camp on Washington Island in the 1940s. 
CDHP is dedicated to researching and making accessible the documentary histories of dance in Chicago. CDHP uses digital spaces to share its accumulating archive including oral history interviews, recorded public events, and collections shared by individuals within the dance community.
What is an archive?
An “archive” refers to the valuable records—photographs, videos, letters—of people and organizations. These records are documentary evidence of the past—they provide the information we use to interpret and understand our history.
River North Dance Chicago dancers join hands before performing "Evolution of a Dream"
 at Dance for Life (2011). Dance for Life Collection.
MoMing Dance and Arts Center (undated).
Material objects table at Joel Hall Dancers and Center Legacy exhibit (2018). Objects include a mask from "Y2 Day," (2000), Jacqueline Sinclair's hat from "El Gato Negro" (1992), program  from "Anja: The Unexpected," (2015), dance notes from "Nuts and Bolts," (undated), dance studio sign-in sheet (1976), and lighting plot from "Night Walker" (1979).
Scrapbook page showing teen girls doing exercises at at the Mabel Katherine Pearse Dance Camp on Washington Island in the 1940s. 
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