Ginger Rogers in Follow the Fleet (1936)
To bring attention to the amazing people, places and things in the dance field, the Dance Heritage Coalition created the First 100 Irreplaceable Treasures in 1999. To underscore the richness of our dance heritage, the DHC created a stunning photo exhibit of the first 100 that warmed the hearts of dancers. It traveled to several dance centers including the NY Public Library of the Performing Arts, where on Monday evening, the DHC celebrated 13 more treasures named last year.
The new treasures include Joan Myers Brown, founder/director of Philadanco and the affiliated school; Celia Ipiotis’ Eye on Dance, which hosted dance guests on its TV show from 1981 to 2000; choreographer Lar Lubovitch; Clark Center for the Performing Arts; and Urban Bush Women, all of whom were present or represented. They were honored with a brief talk and film clip, and in the case of UBW, a charming gestural dance to go along with Chanon Judson’s tribute. A panel discussion followed. The new batch also includes long deceased figures like Josephine Baker, Ginger Rogers and La Meri. For a growing list, click here.
Why were these particular artists and organizations chosen? You will find some hints below, uttered by the person who gave the tribute.
On Joan Myers Brown: “She speaks out, talks back, and shows up.” — Kim Bears-Bailey
On Lar Lubovitch: “He makes beautifully crafted, sometimes provocative work…His Concerto Six Twenty-Two (1985) is about the beauty and strength of friendship in a time of crisis.” — Dick Caples
On Eye on Dance: “Eye on Dance became part of the national conversation, embraced controversy and was one of the first to discuss AIDS publicly.” — Julie Malnig
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar in 1980s, photo by Hakim Mutlaq
On Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder/director of Urban Bush Women: “She wanted to create stories that honored visceral truth.… We are always working to understand and undo racism.” — Chanon Judson
On Clark Center: “In 1959, Alvin Ailey walked into a "Y" on Eight Avenue looking for rehearsal space. It became a center of dance and a presenter of dance, music and the performing arts.” — Sheila Rohan
The event was introduced by Imogen Smith, acting executive director of DHC. She told us that the mission is “to document, preserve and create access to” dance archives across the country. Some of its constituents are Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Arizona State University and CalArts. Founded in 1992, DHC is a terrific resource for dance companies, teachers, researchers and anyone curious about dance history.