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Living Archive, Analysis, Descriptions and Assemblages of African Dance:
Archiving African and Diasporic Dance and Music is a digital public humanities project that will increase users’ understanding of the cross-cultural roots, applications, compositions, histories, technologies, and the cross-pollination of dance in Africa and the diaspora communities. Working closely with dance movement analysts Karen Bradley, Anna Lomax Wood, Mirriam Phillips, Kate Spanos and Forrestine Pauley, along with Todd Harvey Folklife Specialist at the Library of Congress, we will use digital and archival dance film collections available at the Library of Congress (LC) Global Jukebox and Association for Cultural Equity’s archives (ACE), along with collating digital video resources from online platforms like YouTube and the collections from archival materials at major African and diaspora universities, museums and communities of video/film material documentations from the late 19th century to present. These materials will expose the diversity and the contributions of African dance to civilization. These dances will provide building blocks for the researchers to design a public project that will ask users how well they know African and diasporic dance history, its context and the ways that these dances are used. Our project will invite them to discover a rich contextual network of historical collections of African/diaspora dances.
Archiving African and Diasporic Dances deals with traditional, commercial, and academic dance cultures from the period 1900s through the advent of present/modern day technologies of recording, documenting, archiving, and disseminating dance contents online. By incorporating the most recent humanities scholarship, this project will expose the origins of African dances through the framework of provenance, provenience and context research. This framework seeks to deepen the understanding of dance culture research through synthesizing the origins of the dances, where the dances are most found, and who uses the dances and for what purposes. Even audiences who are already familiar with African and African diasporic dances will gain a new appreciation for the multicultural origins of African/Diaspora dances.The project will reveal the broader cultural histories of cultural dances and the cross-cultural understanding of how these dances have been sustained through hundreds of years of practice, innovation and retention.