The Danceaturgy Archive: an anecdotal and scholarly reference work-in-progress at The Creative Research Center
“Dance studies has always been interdisciplinary, even if [it] has been neither sufficiently acknowledged nor fully theorized. The difficulty of traversing disciplinary divides and accommodating diverse media without losing a focus on dance is nevertheless a primary reason that ‘modernism and dance’ remains a topic in need of discussion.”
— Carrie J. Preston, Modernism and Dance, 2014.
We are a group of select individuals that meets weekly in the Spring semester at 8:30 am every Friday – in the Dean’s Conference Room – We convene over fruits and healthy snacks for lively conversation to conceptualize what we physicalize – and respond to provocative writing prompts on the process of dance.
A danceaturg is a reflection of the community in which he or she trains – We think from the perspective of the bird’s eye, the worm’s mouth, and roundabout oversight – not only of the Montclair State dance community – but of the ways in which we grow our cognitive functions from an artistic perspective while dancing, rehearsing, or experiencing dance as an audience member…
The Danceaturgy Archive is 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 Montclair State 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The Danceaturgy Archive is an ongoing effort to make centrally-available published and unpublished on-site dance videos; dance writings; rehearsal notes; oral history in-person and telephone interviews with visiting repetiteurs and choreographers who trained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 Montclair State 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 Montclair State 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 Montclair State University 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 a 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:
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).
As of May 2014, The Danceaturgy Archive has added the following new material to its burgeoning collections: Three Interview/Conversations by Neil Baldwin with Bill T. Jones on Spent Days Out Yonder; Wayne McGregor on Atomos and other works; and Carrie Ann Shim Sham on Stardust. A presentation by Jim May and Elizabeth McPherson on the work of Anna Sokolow. The Dance Department, Informance, and the Danthology on the repertory theme of Minding the Dance by the 2014 Danceaturgs.
[All archival videos are filmed and edited by Kenneth Spooner].
As of May 2015, The Danceaturgy Archive has added the following new video material to its collections:
Heidi Latsky on Dance for Film at Montclair State University
Watch Neil Baldwin interview Heidi Latsky on her new dance for film, Soliloquy.
A three-part conversation in Kasser Theatre: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3
A documentary “behind the scenes” of Soliloquy
The Danceaturgy Workshop Seminar spring 2015 presents its Danthology with Informance 2015 essays
The Dance Division has launched its new Low-Residency MFA. Danceaturgy will be taught at the graduate level commencing Summer 2017. Danceaturgy course prospectus.
In October-November 2016, Neil Baldwin interviewed guest choreographer Larry Keigwin during the process of creating and setting his new dance, Mad Rush, on Montclair State University students. The Biography of a Dance was conducted in three sessions:
On the occasion of the American premiere of her new dance, Figure a Sea, presented by PEAK Performances at the Montclair State University Kasser Theatre in October 2016, choreographer Deborah Hay sat down with Neil Baldwin for this wide-ranging interview:
On Dance Day, April 7, 2017, the Danceaturgs introduced the Dance Works repertory and answered questions from the audience:
During the spring 2017 semester, the members of the Danceaturgy Workshop Seminar compiled a dictionary of dance terms in their own words.
During June 2017, students in the low-residency MFA in Dance explored the poetics of Danceaturgy. Read Poetics of Dance – June 2017.
In October 2017, Neil Baldwin interviewed distinguished visiting choreographer Pam Tanowitz about her new work in collaboration with pianist Simone Dinnerstein based upon the Goldberg Variations by J.S.Bach.
On April 6, 2018, the Sophomore Danceaturgs presented the DanceWorks/Dance Day pre-show
On May 1st, 2018, the Danceaturgs compiled a list of writing prompts they did not get a chance to explore, and dedicated them to the Danceaturgs of the Future.
Read the Future Prompts for 2018
Nine Montclair State dancers, under the rehearsal direction of Kathleen Kelley, prepared To Seldom Spire by Sara Hook for the Fall 2018 Works-a-Foot concert.
Watch their journey:
In December, 2018, Waverley Leung, pictured here with her collaborators, Amelia Sanders, and Marsha Pierre, completed an ambitious Independent Study Dance Project, Pushing the Boundaries of Dance Movement as “Performance.”
Read Waverley’s proposal and fascinating project journal and watch the “final” below!
After the Dance Collage shows on March 28th and 29th, 2019, the Danceaturgs interviewed the extraordinary student choreographers about their works and processes.
Click on an image below to enlarge photo.
Dance Works 2019
Danceaturgs Waverley Leung and Megan Theobald introduced THE NEIGHBORHOOD, a new work by Kathleen Kelley.