The University of Kansas Libraries
Collection Development Policy for Dance
Revised February 2001
Principal Selector: George Gibbs, Music and Dance Librarian
Principal Location: Thomas Gorton Music and Dance Library
Dance is a field which apparently needs little definition. For most people it is taken for granted that dance is simply rhythmic movement performed either in conventionalized sequences, as in social or folk dancing, or choreographed in the 'high art' of theatrical dance--ballet, modern dance, etc. This is all very well as far as it goes. What is not so apparent, probably because movement is such a transparently mundane, ordinary aspect of life, is the extraordinary range of ways of looking at dance and the variety of its connections with other fields. There are any number of focuses, depending on whether one is considering the cultural shaping of dance movements, the historical development of dance, dance as communication, the behavioral factors that influence movement, the physiology involved, or the aesthetic qualities of dance. This last focus, which looks at the aesthetic qualities of the flow of dance movement, the spatial relationships created in the course of a dance performance, etc., is the obvious concern of the dance critic, but dance scholars are concerned with all of these aspects of dance. One or more of them underlie the standard divisions of dance scholarship into which the field sorts itself: dance history, the anthropology of dance, dance therapy, aesthetics of dance, dance education, and even the professional concerns of the dance practitioner, such as choreography, dance production, etc. Scholars in many related areas, such as anthropology, cultural history, music, art, theater, linguistics (particularly semeiotics) and kinesiology share some of the interests of dance scholars.
B. User Population
The primary users of the dance collections are the student majors and faculty in the Division of Dance of the Department of Music and Dance. (There are also typically a number of non-majors taking course work in dance who make some use of the collections.) Some graduate level course work is offered, especially in the areas of Laban movement and dance history/choreography, although there is no graduate degree program in dance. The students' primary needs are for materials on movement analysis, the anthropological basis of dance, dance aesthetics, dance therapy and dance education. Also needed is literature on the professional concerns of the dancer (choreography, dance production and performance) and on dance history worldwide, including ethnic dance of various nations and cultures. Of less interest are works on particular performers or companies; although these are of interest to general readers and to cultural historians. The linkages of dance with cultural history, anthropology, music history, theater and semeiotics are significant: works in many of the areas identified above as important to dance scholars are also of interest to scholars in these areas. Faculty of the Music History Department, in particular, have an interest in dance history as an aspect of music history. The Department's Collegium Musicum sometimes collaborates on performances with the Dance Division, as does the Voice Department on opera productions. Such performances require some Library research, usually involving historical aspects of dance. Special and physical educators and physical therapists share interests in dance therapy and movement education materials.
C. Collection Characteristics
The general level of materials in the dance collections supports master's level research and independent study. Considering that dance borders on a number of fields which have graduate level programs, this is an appropriate level. The majority of the materials are in English, but some material, especially works related to dance history, are in other European languages. The collection levels do vary considerably from specialty to specialty. In some areas the collections approach a doctoral research level: dance ethnology, especially as related to native Americans, is one such area. The Library's collections on ethnic dance for other geographic regions of the world varies: they are close to an advanced study level for Great Britain, Asia and India but somewhat below that level in other areas.
Another area in which the collections support at least advanced level study is dance history from the 19th century forward. Although some short-lived dance periodicals for this period are lacking, the Library does have the major aesthetic and critical works produced from the 19th century through the twentieth century as well as commentaries from contemporary observers. The Library also owns a number of scarce works of dance masters, critics and observers of dance from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Not all of these works are cataloged, however, and the collections are more uneven than for later periods. Availability of reprints is steadily improving the Library's coverage of these early sources: the collection is now somewhere between a study and an advanced study level depending on place and period. In some of the areas emphasized in the instructional programs the collections are limited by the amount of research and printed material produced. The Library has much of the available literature on movement analysis, including the works of the early pioneers in this field. The Library's collections in this area are growing toward a level appropriate for master's level research and independent study as more research articles are published in the journals to which the Library subscribes. This is also true of the areas of dance therapy and dance education, both developing areas within the field. In the cases of movement analysis, ethnic dance and choreographic analysis, recent additions of new periodicals and of primary material in the form of videos has done much to support the programs so as to assure at least a sound study level collection for students and to provide more of the independent research level support needed faculty research in these areas.
II. Collection Guidelines
Although the predominant language of the collection is English, philosophical and historical material is also collected in other languages, especially French, Spanish, German and Italian. The collection contains materials on all periods, but has a stronger representation of works relating to the 19th and 20th centuries. The geographic emphasis is the U.S. and Europe (including eastern Europe and Russia), but materials are also collected relating to Latin America, Africa, India and Asia. Both current and retrospective materials are acquired, but no preference is give to original editions over reprints.
B. Types of Media
Much of the collection could be characterized as resource material for scholars. Juvenile works are seldom collected. Some of the works selected for the collection, such as memoirs and biographies of notable people connected with dance, do have popular interest. These are acquired selectively, preference being given to works that provide some insight on dance history and its cultural milieu. Dance souvenir programs are not acquired. Scholarly journals are collected: journals of a more journalistic nature are acquired very selectively. Newsletters or publications of local organizations (square dance clubs and the like) are not purchased. Reference books, such as bibliographies, directories, indexes, etc. are collected in conjunction with the Reference Department and are usually shelved in Reference. Video cassettes are acquired, preference being given to videos needed by specific classes.
C. Collecting Priorities
Dance is collected at an advanced study level. Preference is given to English language materials, but works in other European languages are acquired, especially in the area of dance history and ethnology. Works on social and ballroom dance are collected at a basic information level.
III. Future Directions
Publishing of materials in dance has been increasing in recent years. There is a keen interest in dance which is not likely to be short-lived, because it has been supported by a growth in the number of regional dance companies and by the establishment, in a number of colleges and universities, of dance as a separate field of study. (Dance as an academic study has, in the past, tended to be subsumed under physical education, as indeed it was at this university until very recently.) In the past, a major share of the publishing was directed at the general market. That will probably continue to be the case; however, a stable production of scholarly works on dance and reprinting of older scholarly works is occurring. Dance history, in particular, is likely to be a growing field, both nationally and at the University, because of the interest in it of scholars in a number of fields.
IV. Selection Process
A. Method of Receipt
The more scholarly output of major U.S. and British publishers, such as Princeton Books, comes in through the Yankee approval plan. European publishers and a number of small specialty U.S. and British publishers, a number of which are mainly reprint publishers are not covered by the approval plan. Part of the dance fund is spent on the current publications of these publishers: the rest is spend on purchasing from o-p dealers.
B. Selection Tools
In selecting material for the dance collection, catalogs of dance publishers and reprint publishers are regularly checked, as are the review sections of dance journals, such as Dance Research Journal and Dance Chronicle. In addition the catalogs of out-of-print dealers are checked for older works the collection lacks. Occasionally a check of a more general list, such as the American Book Publishing Record and similar sources for European books, is made to monitor our coverage of current books on dance.
C. User Input
There are several ways in which users provide input in the selection process. Many students and faculty take advantage of an online catalog option allowing them to recommend a title for purchase. The faculty in the Dance Division tend to make their needs known directly to the bibliographer. Even when particular requests are for materials that will come automatically on approval plans, this input is valuable as an indication of areas of strong interest and need.
V. System Coordination and Resource Sharing
The dance collection is of interest to scholars in cultural history, musical history, theater, physical education, recreation, and anthropology as well as to linguistics scholars or psychologists interested in body language or semeiotics. Some especially evident interests include the interest of several theater faculty in Asian, especially Japanese dance, (traditional Japanese drama, sometimes presented at the University Theater, has a strong dance element) and the music faculty's shared need for works on dance music and for materials on dance history as an aspect of music history. Music educators share an interest with dancers in materials on the Dalcroze system (eurythmics), which uses body movement to teach musical rhythms. Music faculty sometimes make recommendations for purchases in dance history: there is also some referring of faculty recommendations between the music and dance bibliographers, depending on whether the items are predominately about music or about dance.
Dance students and faculty use the Gorton Music and Dance Library in Murphy Hall for materials on ballet and dance music and for books on eurythmics, which has a limited literature classified in the 780's. They also may use the Art and Architecture Library, especially for pictorial material which serves to supplement the limited written record on early periods of dance. Another pictorial resource for early periods are works on costume, most of which are in Watson Library. The collections of art objects in the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery in Kansas City are also a resource for dance scholars and are especially valuable for the study of Asian culture, including dance. Anschutz Science Library provides material on dance therapy and kinesiology.
The Special Collections Department in Spencer Research Library has many works from the Renaissance which concern the cultural life of the times and may contain material on dance. Some of the recent acquisitions of purchases of rare or scarce works in dance history are housed in Special Collections. For students interested in dance ethnology the Bureau of American Ethnology publications, which are housed in Government Documents, are important sources.
VI. Main LC Classes Represented
- GV 1580-1600 Dance Philosophy and Aesthetics
- GV 1601-1619 Dance History (General)
- GV 1621-1728 Ethnic and National Dance
- GV 1743 Folk Dances and Dancing (General)
- GV 1746-1779 Social and Ballroom Dance
- GV 1781-1799 Theatrical Dancing