Call For Papers: Dance and The Archive

Friday 17 May 2019

Press contact

Richard Ralph

Special Issue: Dance and the Archive

Guest Editors: Jane Pritchard and Sarah Whatley

Deadline for submissions: 1st July 2019


Dance has long been regarded as an art form that is challenging to archive because the “time-based phenomenology of dance is a challenge for dance archivists” (Oke 2017, 197), but this has not prevented the creation of numerous important archives of dance, worldwide. Historically, dance has left many traces in iconography, drawings, and in various inscriptions depicting dancing bodies; in notations, descriptions in texts and in other material remains such as costumes, masks and scenography. But until the advent of photography and then film, the corporeal dancing body was mostly absent from these records, or required considerable detective work akin to an archaeological investigation to recover a sense of the dancing itself. The recent uncovering and sharing of some of these early films has renewed interest in the importance of historical artefacts, and their influence on contemporary practices. For example, the New York Public Library’s growing collection of thousands of hours of digitized footage in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division Moving Image Archive now includes some of the earliest films of dance, dating back to the 1890s, and is viewable online.


As dance archives reflect developments in dance on a global level, and evolve to respond to the impact of new technologies on how dance is made, documented and accessed, this special issue is an opportunity to explore some of the themes that are most pressing for how dance archives impact on research in dance. Several themes recur in discussions about the archive, including power, authenticity, ephemerality, fixity, legacy, loss, and so on. The aim is to bring together original scholarly writing that addresses ‘dance archives’ from different perspectives, acknowledging the richness and diversity of the field, alongside a number of shorter articles that feature particular archives, to draw attention to achievements, developments and new initiatives that are valuable for the wider dance research community. We welcome contributions on a wide-range of topics, details of which are found in the full call.


Prospective contributors are invited to send a 500-word outline by email to the Editor, Richard Ralph, by July 1 2019.

Publication: Provisional publication date subject to variation.