The Danceaturgy Archive

The Danceaturgy Archive: an anecdotal and scholarly reference work-in-progress at The Creative Research Center


D-Man in the Waters by Bill T. Jones – Danceworks – Kasser Theatre - April 2012. Photo by Mike Peters 

Scheduled to be fully accessible in spring 2014, The Danceaturgy Archive will be an annotated, catalogued, keyword-searchable hybrid text and visual record [Web-based/digital/dvd/paper documentary] of choreographic interviews, presentations and performances in The Dance Division of the Department of Theatre & Dance in The College of the Arts at Montclair State University.

Danceaturgy is an observational strategy invented at MSU as a variant of dramaturgy in the world of theatre (reiterated by Erving Goffman in homage to G.E. Lessing’s Hamburg Dramaturgy of 1767).  As a pedagogical process, selected dance students/writers are chosen from repertory classes to examine the works in which they are performing, and given the task to develop a critical analysis of the works by “stepping out” and looking at pieces objectively.

The danceaturg is the performer-as-spectator, in contradistinction to the theatrical dramaturg; and The Danceaturgy Workshop is offered as a credit-bearing course every spring.

The Danceaturgy Archive is an ongoing effort to make centrally-available published and unpublished on-site dance videos; dance writings; rehearsal notes; oral history in-person and telephone interviews with visiting repetiteurs and choreographers who trained and performed with the masters of modern dance; conversations with MSU dance faculty; Informance plans; themed repertory curatorial notes; “Talkback” and rehearsal/staging videos; and weekly email Letters from a Danceaturg by Dr. Neil Baldwin to Dance Division Director Lori Katterhenry (sent through her to MSU dance majors and faculty, and other interested readers around the College, the University and the world).  

The Danceaturgy Archive memorializes the historic commitment by the MSU Dance Division to the modern dance legacy, and to the preservation of cultural patrimony, at a complex time in our culture when the values of a liberal education are under inordinate scrutiny. The Dance Division believes that the arts are the life’s blood of that education, and is committed to inculcating in its students the necessity for an historic consciousness of an ephemeral form.

The Danceaturgy Archive offers herewith its first documentary compilation, a six-year retrospective survey of the activities of The Dance Division: Danthology| 2013|  2012 | 2011 | 2010 | Informance 2009 | Informance 2008.

In Spring 2013, The Danceaturgy Archive produced three new documentaries in what will be an ongoing series: Bill T . Jones: Continuous Replay (by Kenneth Spooner); and Informance and Jasmin Vardimon in conversation at Kasser Theater (by Lindsey Rassmann).