Fellowships in Dance Archiving and Preservation

Dance/USA invites applications for the 2020 Summer Fellowships in Dance Archiving and Preservation for master’s degree students in library and information sciences. The theme of this round of Fellowships is Honoring Dance Elders and Pioneers. Four Fellowships will be awarded for Summer 2020.

The goal of this program is to develop an engaged, passionate, and well-trained next generation of archivists in the dance field and to advance models for community-based archiving assistance to regional dance communities. Aligned with Dance/USA’s core values of equity, inclusion, and diversity, this Fellowship program invites applicants who are committed to advancing a more equitable and inclusive archives field that reflects and supports the true diversity of voices, practices, and identities within dance communities. Applicants should be interested in building bridges of access to the arts with a wide range of diverse communities.

This program builds on the Fellowships in Archiving and Preservation offered by Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC), between 2001 and 2014, and on Dance/USA’s 2018 pilot Archiving Fellowships. Read about Dance/USA’s previous Archiving Fellows and their projects here.

This opportunity is generously supported by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Program Format and Project Descriptions

Timeline and commitment: June-August 2020, approximately 450 hours total.

Locations: Atlanta, GA (DanceATL), Los Angeles, CA (Viver Brasil), San Francisco, CA (World Arts West), Oakland, CA (AXIS Dance Company)

Stipend: $10,000.

The Fellowship will be supervised and administered by Dance/USA’s Department of Archiving & Preservation. The Fellow will receive orientation and training in dance-specific concepts and resources for archiving, and will work with local mentors and organizations on projects to preserve and create access to unique dance materials. Each Fellow will be assigned to work on one of the following projects.

Project Descriptions:

AXIS Dance Company: In order to secure, preserve, and make accessible the historically significant archives of AXIS, a pioneer in the field of physically integrated dance, the Fellow will:

  • Conduct an initial assessment of archives;
  • Develop and implement  a workplan to organize and inventory the archives
  • Train AXIS staff in systems and practices for maintaining the archives
  • Work with archivists at the University of California-Berkeley’s Bancroft Library to support the eventual transfer of archival materials to the Bancroft’s Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement (DRILM) Collection.

Viver Brasil: The Fellow’s project will have a joint focus on improvements to the sustainability of Viver Brasil’s archives and preservation of the legacy of the late Joselita Moreira da Cruz Silva, aka Zelita, a master elder and cultural specialist of the dance and music of Reconcavô of Bahia. The Fellow will:

  • Conduct a general archive assessment and, in consultation with archivist mentors, develop and implement systems and workflows to improve VB’s ability to manage their records and secure their legacy;
  • Inventory archival video documenting the dance and teaching of Zelita, and develop a plan for digitizing these at-risk analog recordings.
  • Contribute to planning and activities around enhancements to the archive, including the creation of oral histories.
  • Work with archivists in the UCLA Library Special Collections to develop plans for the long-term sustainability and accessibility of the archive.

World Arts West: World Arts West, the presenter of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, holds materials that not only document the organization’s own history, but the works of hundreds of individual artists and companies working in traditional dance forms. The Fellow will:

  • Conduct an initial assessment, develop and implement  a workplan to organize and inventory the archives
  • Prepare unique materials for digitization and scan select materials for preservation and access;
  • Visit select artists and dance companies in the Bay Area to conduct initial assessments of their archival holdings, with a goal of developing an environmental scan of the needs of traditional dance artists and their organizations in the region.

DanceATL: To support DanceATL’s new archive initiative to preserve and share Atlanta dance history, the Fellow will help design and pilot the following activities:

  • Select initial subjects for oral histories, develop oral history questions and methodology, and coordinate recording of interviews;
  • Assist with the selection, location, and acquisition of archival records documenting the careers of these oral history subjects;
  • Draft manuals for arrangement and description of archival records and assist with planning for long-term preservation and accessibility of records, including building partnerships with local archives and libraries.
  • Contribute to the development of institutional partnerships with archives in the Atlanta area with the goal of establishing a sustainable long-term plan for the archive project.

Other professional development activities

  • Fellows will keep a blog throughout the Fellowship period that shares their learning and discoveries and engages with the themes of the program. View blogs by former Dance/USA Archiving Fellows.
  • Fellows will attend Dance/USA’s annual conference in Denver, CO (June 17-20), and the Society of American Archivists Annual Conference in Chicago (August 2-8). Fellows will receive financial support for these trips.
  • Fellows will assist Dance/USA staff with tracking metrics and evaluating the program’s outcomes. 

How to Apply

Eligibility Requirements:

Current full- or part-time enrollment in an ALA-accredited graduate program through (at least) Spring 2020. Fellows must be available to work full-time for approximately 13 weeks during June, July, and August 2020 and able to travel for conferences. (Exact start and end dates can be coordinated with academic year commitments.) Applicants who identify with ALAANA (African-American, Latinx, Asian-American, Arab, Native American) races and ethnicities, as gender diverse, as disabled, and/or as committed to advancing social justice causes, are strongly encouraged. 

Application Process

Submit a resume, list of references, and a Vision, Values, and Goal Statement explaining what the applicant hopes to contribute to and gain from the Fellowship and how this opportunity aligns with career goals and personal values. This statement should highlight any experience or connection with dance/performing arts and dance legacy materials. Please include any language skills. Applicants may, but are not required to, express a preference for one of the four projects described; however, Dance/USA does not commit to assigning the applicant to the preferred project.

Deadline: February 28, 2020

Please send Vision, Values, and Goal statement, resume, and contact and relationship (e.g. professor, supervisor) information for 3 references as one PDF named “Lastname_Firstname.pdf” to Hallie Chametzky, Archiving Specialist, hchametzky@danceusa.org.

Applicant Finalists will be contacted to schedule a phone/video conference interview with Dance/USA staff. Applicants will be asked to provide proof of current enrollment in an accredited program.

About Dance/USA

Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, supports the field through research, advocacy, and convenings, including an Annual Conference. Dance/USA has adopted core values of equity, inclusion, and diversity which inform all aspects of the organization’s activities and programs.

In 2017, Dance/USA began the process of integrating the archiving and preservation programs of Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC). Formerly a stand-alone nonprofit, DHC was founded as an alliance of institutions holding major dance research collections with a mission to document, preserve, and create access to the legacy of dance. With the integration, Dance/USA has taken on this mission to provide archiving services to the dance field and build skills, resources, and awareness of dance heritage.

About the Project Sites

AXIS Dance Company, founded in 1987 and based in Oakland, CA, is one of the nation’s most acclaimed ensembles of disabled and non-disabled performers. AXIS accomplishes its mission through three pillars of activity: Artistry, Engagement, and Advocacy. Led by Judith Smith from 1998 to 2017, and currently led by Marc Brew, AXIS has toured widely in the U.S. and abroad, collaborating with high-profile choreographers, while offering an extensive outreach and education program that is the primary pre-professional training ground for aspiring dancers with disabilities. More than any other company in the United States, AXIS has been at the forefront of the field, building a bridge between contemporary dance, integrated dance, and disability culture.

DanceATL, a service organization that supports the Metro Atlanta dance community, seeks to forward dance as a vibrant part of Atlanta’s arts ecosystem by connecting artists to resources, growing and engaging audiences in the city, and supporting the full range of the industry by cultivating an awareness and appreciation of dance that is sustainable and expansive. Project activities focus on advocacy, professional development and information resources, and are designed to gather and disseminate information, convene individuals and groups around key issues, facilitate networking, and stimulate the communal voice. DanceATL’s new archive project aims to build a community-based archive that preserves and shares the voices of elders and pioneers of Atlanta dance and gives visibility to the rich and diverse history of dance in Atlanta. 

Viver Brasil, a Los Angeles based company founded in 1997 under the artistic direction of Linda Yudin and Luiz Badaró, honors Brazil’s African legacy through bold contemporary dance theater and increases awareness of the rich history of Afro-Brazilian dance and music through performances, arts education, community engagement and an annual cultural immersion program to Salvador, Bahia, that engage a variety of communities from youth to adults and seniors. Through rigorous research and continuous dialogue with living masters and virtuoso musicians and choreographers in Bahia, Viver Brasil drives contemporary representations of Brazilian dance in the United States.

World Arts West is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that supports over 450 Bay Area dance companies that are sustaining and celebrating the world’s cultural legacy. The work of World Arts West includes producing and presenting the nationally acclaimed San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival each June. With a forty-year history, World Arts West is being increasingly recognized for creating the epicenter for dance from over 100 unique world cultures, resulting in the most vibrant and diverse dance community in the world. Over the years, the Festival performances have featured over 26,000 artists. World Arts West is led by Executive Director Anne Huang.

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