Installation view of "Lucinda Childs: Dance" exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art.  Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins.  From the Whitney Museum of American Art Web site.

Installation view of "Lucinda Childs: Dance" exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art. Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins. From the Whitney Museum of American Art Web site.

On a recent trip back to New York, I was surprised to come upon the installation, Lucinda Childs: Dance, in the galleries of the Whitney Museum of American Art.  This small exhibition brought together (what are now) archival materials created by choreographer, Lucinda Childs, composer, Philip Glass, and artist, Sol LeWitt, in the process of collaborating on the 1979 piece,  Dance, originally commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  It was easily the most mesmerizing display in the museum at the time.

The restored work itself has been touring recently with a new company of eleven dancers under Childs’s direction and it will receive one more set of performances, from 15-17 October, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  If you are not able to make it to one of these shows, you can read a thoughtful review of the company’s appearance at New York’s Joyce Theater by Evan Namerow on the blog, Dancing Perfectly Free.  If you happen to be in New York, you can view the installation at the Whitney through the 8th November.


Although this announcement is coming late, there still is a little time left to catch the final performances of Ballet West’s Treasures of the Ballets Russes program, if you happen to be in the Salt Lake City area.  The company has received rave reviews from the Dance Critic of the New York Times, but Ballet West also has been sponsoring a very elaborate festival, which has brought together several local organizations, to celebrate the Ballets Russes centennial since 4 March.  Check out the extensive calendar of events and the Ballet West blog for more information.  Sorry we didn’t notice sooner!

Lest this blog be spoken of as being moribund, here are a few random and fairly recent items from various blogs that interested us.

First, although at the moment it has no direct bearing on performing arts archives or archivists, the news that the Amato Opera in New York City would be closing its doors in May made us very, very sad.  Upon reflection, however, while we still are sad that this irreplaceable piece of real New York would be vanishing forever, after reading the accounts of its various moves over the years and looking at pictures and ephemera relating to other companies no longer in existence, we became more optimistic that some brave soul would pick up the banner in his or her own way and time.  At any rate, although the story made it quickly to the Times and other media, it was reported first (and better?) in the blogs.

Next, we turn to the frequently cited and award-winning processing blog, A View to Hugh.  Although it currently contains only three entries in the “Jazz” category, these include some wonderful images and can serve as an interesting case study of an exchange between archivists and user communities.  Maybe someone here  can help them out with some other identifications?  We also wonder whether or not we were the only ones who found the tone of the most recent post in that category, while probably done with the best of intentions, to be a bit grating and insensitive?

Finally, we turn our attention to another processing (although they insist on “cataloguing”) blog, the Harold Pinter Archive Blog, mainly to express: a) our sense of chagrin, that in spite of reporting on the acquisition of the collection over a year ago here, we had been unaware that the blog existed until Pinter’s recent passing; and b) congratulations on helping to make this collection so quickly accessible to the public.

blackcatThe title of this post is to commemorate one of the more interesting items spotted for sale in the Bellevue Community College cafeteria by one of my colleagues last week while we were attending the SAA workshop, Understanding Photos.  It also can serve as a catchall for a bunch of items of interest that have been accumulating.

The image of the menu from a New York city restaurant, Au Chat Noir, was chosen because: a) we needed another cat picture on this blog; and b) wanted something illustrative, but unusual, to grab your attention about yet another historic preservation campaign related to the performing arts.  As has been widely reported, five of the remaining buildings on West 28th Street that once constituted Tin Pan Alley are up for sale (presumably for demolition and redevelopment).  32 West 28th Street isn’t among them, but perhaps some of the songwriters and publishers dined at Au Chat Noir.

Meanwhile, over on the Archives Hub blog, the latest post talks about a recent event held to demonstrate “what archives can show us about holidays and seaside resorts” in Britain and publishes a great image of a pierrot show cast, held by the University of Exeter Library.

Finally (and this is to whet your appetite for the hopefully-not-too-stale series of upcoming posts about SAA 2008 Session 406), NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday featured a segment on Jonatha Brooke’s creative utilization of material in the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives.

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID: 475669

Sorry for not warning you about my vacation ahead of time.  Regular posts, as well as the interrupted series of SAA conference reports, will resume shortly.  With the Fall arts season off and running, there have been many, many items in the news worth noting and thinking about over the past few weeks.  Perhaps one of the most interesting has been the hubbub, reported in the New York Times and elsewhere, over the Friedman-Abeles photograph collection in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts from whence this image, a studio publicity portrait of Ray Walston and Gwen Verdon in Damn Yankees, comes.

I’ll leave you to think about it until the next post.

Image credit: Friedman-Abeles publicity photograph for Damn Yankees.  NYPL Digital Gallery ID # 1606701

Today marks the first anniversary of this blog’s first public post (well, in this hemisphere, anyway), so happy birthday to us! We’ve persevered through address changes, disappearing images, and other assorted backstage dramas, but we’re still here.

We look forward to bringing you another year of news mainly about the SAA Performing Arts Roundtable, as well as items related to performing arts archives and archivists (and those who love them). And the occasional unnecessary picture of a cat.

Image credit: Glass plate negative of Louis Wain’s ‘A Christmas catastrophe : please, sir, the rat entree has escaped and eaten the turkey.’ Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog #det1994023295/PP.

I was only half awake when I heard this story on NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’ earlier today regarding the pending lawsuit between the estate of James Brown and stock photo concern, Corbis, but it does make for some entertaining reading (though the transcription has a few errors) or listening. Most interesting perhaps was to hear Corbis described as a “photo archive.” Do “archivists” think of it as being what we traditionally view as archives in the public sense? Isn’t Corbis just another shop? Albeit a very well-stocked one. On its corporate Web site, Corbis describes itself as a “creative resource.”

Be that as it may, the story also reminded me about another blog post that I had started here several months ago, but aborted mainly because it occurred at around the same time that problems first began with the media uploading platform on WordPress (an issue hopefully resolved for good now) and I was unable to insert the above image of an early performance of James Brown and the Flames (hopefully neither the Library of Congress nor the estate of James Brown will mind me doing so now).

Way back in April there were various reports in the media that an exhibition of the late singer’s memorabilia was being planned by the I. P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium at South Carolina State University. At that time it had been announced that the show would open at some point during the summer, so I decided to check back on its progress. This time around, I discovered the museum’s own blog, which indicates that the exhibit will open in October 2008 (to coincide with SCSU’s homecoming week). Something else to add to your calendars!

Image credit: James Brown and the Flames during live performance, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, Digital ID (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c21427

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