American Dance Festival

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Modern dance festival founded in 1934 in Bennington, Vermont.

From the description of Records, 1977-1995 and n.d. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 36109678

The American Dance Festival is a non-profit organization committed to serving the needs of dance, dancers, choreographers, and professionals in dance-related fields. It presents a six and a half week summer festival of modern dance performances and educational programs, hosts community outreach activities, and sponsors numerous projects in the humanities. Its mission is to create and present new dance works, preserve the modern dance heritage, build wider national and international audiences and enhance public understanding and appreciation for modern dance, and provide training and education for dancers and choreographers.

From the guide to the American Dance Festival Company and Biographical Reference Collection, 1934-2003, (American Dance Festival Archives)

From the guide to the American Dance Festival Photographic Materials Collection, circa 1930-2008, (American Dance Festival Archives)

Free to Dance: The African-American Presence in Modern Dance was a three-part television documentary co-produced by the American Dance Festival and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in association with Thirteen/WNET New York. The series aired on PBS' Great Performances: Dance in America in 2001 and won an Emmy for Outstanding Cultural and Artistic Programming-Long Form. It chronicled the role of African-American choreographers and dancers in the development of modern dance as an American art form. Dance masterpieces by African-American choreographers were filmed expressly for the series, including the works of Katherine Dunham ( Barrelhouse Blues ), Pearl Primus ( Strange Fruit ), Donald McKayle ( Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder ), Talley Beatty ( Mourner's Bench ), Bill T. Jones ( D-Man in the Waters ), Alvin Ailey ( Revelations ), and many others.

Free to Dance was an outgrowth of the American Dance Festival's Black Tradition in American Modern Dance (BTAMD) program. Initiated in 1987 to preserve, present, and interpret significant dances by African-American choreographers, BTAMD reconstructed and presented twenty-three dances in danger of being lost. BTAMD's national touring initiative presented performances throughout the US by African-American dance companies, including Chuck Davis' African American Dance Ensemble, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Philadanco, and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. Scholars touring with the companies contextualized and interpreted the cultural and aesthetic significance of the dances in panel discussions.

The success of the BTAMD project led to the creation of Free to Dance, and the American Dance Festival began fund raising efforts in 1993. Fund raising, research, and conceptual development continued through 1997. Full production commenced in 1998, including scripting, securing the rights to archival footage and photos, and the filming of interviews, performances, and scene recreations. Editing was completed in 2001.

From the guide to the Free to Dance Records, 1987-2004, (American Dance Festival Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Free to Dance Records, 1987-2004 American Dance Festival Archives
referencedIn Sanford, Terry, 1917-1998. Terry Sanford Papers, 1926-1996 (bulk 1986-1992) David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn The Kenneth Rinker Collection, 1964-1987 The Ohio State University. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Insitute.
creatorOf Buckholz, Dawn. Whites of their eyes / composed by Dawn Buckholz ; choreographed by David Parker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf American Dance Festival Photographic Materials Collection, circa 1930-2008 American Dance Festival Archives
referencedIn Marks, Bruce, 1937-. Interview with Bruce Marks. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Schönberg, Bessie,. Interview with Bessie Schoenberg. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Rogers, Helen Priest,. Interview with Helen Priest Rogers. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Doris Duke Awards for New Work [clippings]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Devine, John. Music for divine interventions : for 2 saxophones (soprano/tenor, alto/tenor), piano, bass, drums / by John Devine. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn American Dance Festival collection, [ca. 1952-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
referencedIn William C. Friday Papers, 1942-1999 and undated (bulk 1985-1999) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Hellebrandt, Beatrice,. Scrapbook, no. 5: American Dance Festival programs; Connecticut College School of Dance newsletters. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Bessie Schönberg papers, 1932-1997 and undated The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Thomas Skelton papers, circa 1953-1994 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Semans Family Papers, 1878-2008 and undated Duke University Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
creatorOf American Dance Festival Company and Biographical Reference Collection, 1934-2003 American Dance Festival Archives
referencedIn Josephine Clement Papers, 1937-1998 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Duke University. University Archives. American Dance Festival reference collection, 1977-2000. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Duke University. Vice President for Business and Finance. Vice President for Business and Finance records, 1962-1985. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Schönberg, Bessie. Bessie Schönberg Papers, 1932-1997 and undated. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn North Carolina Lesbian and Gay Health Project Records, 1983-1996 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf American Dance Festival. Records, 1977-1995 and n.d. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Buckholz, Dawn. person
associatedWith Clement, Josephine. person
associatedWith Devine, John. person
associatedWith Duke University. Vice President for Business and Finance. corporateBody
associatedWith Friday, William C. (William Clyde). person
associatedWith Hellebrandt, Beatrice, person
associatedWith John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts corporateBody
associatedWith Mara Penrose person
associatedWith Marks, Bruce, 1937- person
associatedWith North Carolina Lesbian and Gay Health Project person
associatedWith Rogers, Helen Priest, person
correspondedWith Sanford, Terry, 1917-1998 person
associatedWith Schönberg, Bessie, person
associatedWith Schönberg, Bessie person
associatedWith Semans family family
associatedWith Skelton, Thomas R person
associatedWith Thirteen/WNET New York corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Performance
Choreography
Modern dance--History
Dancers
Choreographers
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1977

Active 1995

Information

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SNAC ID: 33681990