2013 DHC Fellows – Chicago Orientation Week

The Fellows in this year’s DHC Cohort traveled to Chicago for an intensive “boot-camp” of dance archive lectures, field trips, and hands-on experiences.  Some of the neat places we visited and toured were the Newberry Library, the Chicago Film Archive, and the dance company Thodos Dance Chicago.  The Newberry Library is a DHC host archive with multiple dance archival collections available for research.  A thrilling moment during the tour was an opportunity to hold Anna Pavlova‘s toe shoes:

Holding Anna Pavlova's shoe - wow!

Holding Anna Pavlova’s shoe – wow!

Some of the other archival materials we had a chance to examine were a set of photographs of Gene Kelly from several periods in his career, along with some of his correspondence.  We also carefully flipped through a centuries-old dance instruction manual with early forms of dance notation that was truly gorgeous, and had a chance to peek in the secret basement vault and see some of the rare items in the collection, including the Oscar won by Ben Hecht in 1928.  It weighed about 20 pounds!

The Newberry also has a wonderful conservation lab on hand for work with the books and manuscripts in the collection, and sometimes for other material types.  We had a chance to speak with the staff and learn about some of the common issues that can crop up in older materials, or those that were not ideally housed prior to coming to the Newberry.  Here are some images of the conservation lab and equipment:

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This equipment allows for treating oversized materials in a secure environment during certain conservation processes.

This equipment allows for treating oversized materials in a secure environment during certain conservation processes.

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Our days were packed right from the get-go, but we still managed to spend time together exploring the city of Chicago as a full group and in smaller groups.  A favorite eatery was Cafecito, a Cuban café many of us chose for our breakfast, lunch, or dinner stop:

Me with Hadley Davis, assigned to the Newberry for her Fellowship.

Me with Hadley Davis, assigned to the Newberry for her Fellowship.

Another fun place to see was the Chicago Field Museum, which had an special exhibit about Bioluminescence along with their other fantastic exhibits.  Here’s Selena with the Tyrannosaurus named Sue:

Selena Chau, who is assigned to the NYPL for her Fellowship.

Selena Chau, who is assigned to the NYPL for her Fellowship.

And to salute a long day’s work midweek, we enjoyed an excursion to the luxurious Violet Hour cocktail lounge:

A hidden speak-easy specializing in old-fashioned cocktails.

A hidden speak-easy specializing in old-fashioned cocktails.

There was so much to learn and to take-in during Orientation, but it was exciting to absorb as much information as possible knowing that it will be helpful in the coming weeks as we all work on projects at our host archives.  For me, the best part of orientation was the chance to connect with the DHC leadership and my cohort of Fellows throughout the process of exploring different aspects of dance archive work.  I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and grow together both this summer and in our ongoing professional association.

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