And so it begins…

11 06 2012

It’s now been two weeks since this epic Fellowship journey began with an intense week of orientation training in Washington, DC. Orientation was incredibly exciting for me, meeting my fellow Fellows (yeah, we’re all going to get sick of that one after a while!), touring amazing dance collections, working with the Step Afrika! Company, and learning more about the thorny issues of Fair Use in archival materials – specific to dance, of course. The time in DC was certainly action-packed, but also really rewarding and affirmed my sense of the integral nature of the performing arts to our own cultural heritage – and one that can often go underrepresented in many archives. While I learned a lot, I left excited to begin the first phase of my Fellowship out at the American Dance Festival.

Which brings us up to now-ish…after DC, was a one night stop in my hometown of Chicago to pack up the car with my “stuff” and my trusty feline companion* for the six weeks that I’ll be working at ADF in Durham, NC. My first week has been a serious whirlwind – getting lost on a daily basis, wandering around the Duke campus (which, by the by, is honestly one of the most gorgeous campuses I’ve ever seen), meeting the great staff of ADF (big tip of the hat to the interns and student workers as well who are running around like crazy prepping for everything), and settling into my new apartment where I’m taking care of two turtles that are quite intriguing to my cat.

Much more to come, of course, but I should probably note that, from a professional perspective, this is an incredible opportunity and I’m really looking forward to digging into the work here. The collection that I’ll be working on comes from Judith and Bruce Sagan, co-Directors of the Harper Theater Dance Festival, a tragically short-running series dedicated to bringing the biggest names in modern dance to Chicago audiences during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The materials are largely textual, but also contain a good amount of photographs and an enormous bundle of souvenir programs, tickets, and posters from dance festivals and performances from all over the country. As a Chicagoan, I have to say that this is a fantastic opportunity and I hope that, once it’s fully processed, will provide new insight to the history of modern dance in the city.

*Should anyone be curious as to how cats react to be stuffed in a carrying bag for 14 hours, please be sure that I can give many exciting stories and also relay helpful tips in sneaking them into hotel rooms for a road break.

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