The Documentation and Preservation of Dance

Choreographer Merce Cunningham’s death in the summer of 2009 was a stark reminder of the ephemerality of dance and of the rapidly vanishing human record of the art in the 20th century. Although a good deal of work has been done using notation systems, video, motion capture technologies, and oral history, there is still a strong feeling among dancers, software developers, and scholars that current methods do not sufficiently document the art and allow it to be preserved over time. Dance scholars, artists, and motion capture specialists have long understood that dance consists of much more than the motion of the body through space, though what else and to what degree other elements are important is a matter of much debate. The Documentation and Preservation of Dance project brings together an interdisciplinary team from MITH, the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) at Ohio State University, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts to host a series of workshops that will establish and document the current state of the art and push forward action on this pressing problem of dance preservation.