Performance documentation


We all probably could use one right now (especially over here where the wind is whipping up a frenzy).  In the news recently have been a number of reports of various revivals and other acts of reclamation taking place as spring advances, including a well-received concert version of the Kurt Weill-Ira Gershwin musical, The Firebrand of Florence, under the auspices of the Collegiate Chorale at the revamped Alice Tully Hall in New York.  Isadora Duncan also was in the news, with the appearance of the rechristened Isadora Duncan Dance Company this past week at the Judson Memorial Church to generally positive reviews and a somewhat controversial revival by the Royal Ballet of Kenneth MacMillan’s originally controversial Isadora (1981) opened to a less than warm response at Covent Garden.

Good or bad, could it have happened without performing arts archives?

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While it would be nice to say that this blog went silent again because we were all too occupied with Archives Months events, I cannot tell a lie.  Look for the long deferred posts about Performing Arts Roundtable programs at SAA Annual 2008 in the coming days.  In the meantime:

Going through the mail, one item of interest recently received is the latest volume in the Theatre Library Association‘s occasional Performing Arts Resources series.  Entitled Performance Reclamation: Research, Discovery, and Interpretation, this book (well, it’s a serial really) should be of special interest to performing arts archivists everywhere.  It provides a transcript of the complete program of TLA’s 2007 symposium of the same name.  The main purpose of that symposium had been to examine the “critical role in recreating performance and supporting the construction of production histories” played by performing arts archives and libraries.  Participants included representatives from City Center Encores!, Jacob’s Pillow, and the Mint Theater.  Rounding out the contents are papers from the 2005 TLA Plenary for the American Society for Theatre Research by Jonathan Bank, Claudia Wilsch Case, and Sarah Ziebell.

Which reminds me — did I renew my membership?

Well, you get the idea. Have a happy holiday!

But where is she leaving her papers?

You can see her take her final bows in a video on the Reuters site or watch her in action on a YouTube video below:

Yes, it has been a longer-than-expected hiatus but we hope to resume more regular blogging here soon.

Not strictly of archival interest, but in its latest creative deployment of new media, New York City Ballet recently announced the establishment of its own YouTube channel. It currently features an introductory video about the Company. Beginning on March 9, the site will offer videos that document NYCB’s upcoming tour of London (the first in 25 years).

Apologies for the long silence. Hopefully we will get back to more regular postings once February has rolled around. In the meantime, we would like to alert you to an article in last Sunday’s NYT’s Arts & Leisure section, which reports on the always innovative Merce Cunningham’s latest initiative to document his work. Funded by several grants, and in partnership with New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program, the company will provide free public access to Cunningham master classes via regular download on the Web beginning in September 2008. Find out more about this exciting project, Mondays with Merce, and watch a sample video on the company’s own site.

In today’s New York Sun, dance critic Joel Lobenthal concludes his review of the restored Balanchine Don Quixote film at the New York Public Library by singing the library’s praises (the only critic whom I’ve come across — so far– to explicitly do so):

The Performing Arts library’s restoration of the Balanchine-Farrell “Don Quixote” confirms its status as one of the world’s most important archives of the arts. The library is to be commended for restoring and making available this fascinating and slightly disturbing artifact.

You’ll get no argument here. Check out the rest of the piece in the Sun here (possibly the only time you may ever read that advice in this space) for some other interesting insights.

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