Best source for dance lore (2008)

Jerome Robbins Dance Division

If you've ever wanted to know more about a dance that thrilled or puzzled you, the choreographer who made it, or the dancer you fell in love with, head for the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. With a regular library card, you can check out books and videos on the first and second floors, but you'll want to go up to the third and get an Access card (no sweat) for the research collections there. All around you, dance professionals, scholars, students, and dance lovers pore over a treasure trove of historic and current materials: books, magazines, pictures, letters, manuscripts, microfilms, taped interviews, videos, old films, and more. (If you'd like advance knowledge, go to, click on the library's online catalog, CATNYP, and then on Dance Collection at the bottom of the screen.) I remember when my call slip yielded a small cardboard mock-up of the set Isamu Noguchi designed for Balanchine's Orpheus, and the shivery moment when I donned the white cotton gloves required for examining rare items and opened the little Paris notebook in which 23-year-old Isadora Duncan jotted down her grand thoughts and her appointments for 1900.


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