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Dance in Library Special Collections

Toward Ethical and Inclusive Descriptive Practices in UCLA Library Special Collections

LSC is committed to remediating harmful description by creating and implementing an anti-oppressive approach to discovery and access. We aim to:

  • Be clear about what we know, how we know it, and what we don't know
  • Embrace baseline description as a tool to improve the discoverability of all our materials
  • Demonstrate an understanding that description is a continuous and necessarily iterative endeavor

Read more about our past and current approaches to description in Toward Ethical and Inclusive Descriptive Practices in UCLA Library Special Collections.


Ruth St. Denis, Theodora [1918] [3/4 length view, wrapped in veil]One of Library Special Collection’s most important holdings in dance relates to the Denishawn dancers, Ruth St. Denis (more than one hundred boxes) and Ted Shawn (two boxes). The Arthur Todd Dance Collection comprises thirty boxes of ephemera, photographs, programs, and memorabilia relating to dance in the twentieth century, including clippings, programs, fliers, magazines, and posters, as well as letters to Todd. The department also owns the papers of British dancer Maud Allan, an interpretive dancer active in the early twentieth century. Separate collections pertaining to choreographers Gower Champion and Jake Cole document important careers on the stage and screen. The Gordon Anthony Ballet and Theatrical Photographs Collection and the Ernest Belcher Collection contain photographs and programs of both British and American dancers. Another collection (twenty-two boxes) of dance programs document virtually every major British and American dance performances between 1900 and 1990. The Folk Dance Federation of Southern California was established in 1946 to conduct monthly festivals, encourage research in authentic dance forms, and to provide recognized patterns of folk dances; their collection comprises forty-one boxes.

LSC has also acquired the largest private collection ever assembled of rare materials by and about modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan (1877/78-1927). Built by Los Angeles attorney Howard Holtzman over a thirty-year period, the collection of some fifteen hundred items includes manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, artwork, contracts and box office statements, and ephemera.

National Dance Week 2021 Blog Posts by LSC Curator Genie Guerard

Dance Collections

Selected Bibliography of Primary Resources - UCLA Library Special Collections

Dance Oral Histories

Martha DeaneThe UCLA Center for Oral History Research has conducted numerous interviews which contain dance related content.

Traditional Asian Arts in Southern California (Series Detail)