Dance and the (digital) archive: A survey of the field

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This paper offers a conspectus of several online dance archives made in the context of the Portuguese research project TKB. The online searches we conducted from 2018 to the end of 2019 suggested four broad categories of resources for what one may call 'online dance archives'. Aiming to observe how dance resources are available on the internet, we made each category correspond to a different operation-to collect (to build up a collection), to accumulate (to gather almost random material), to store (to organize according to a set of rules), to assemble (to compose and curate material). And we posed the same set of questions: For each of these categories: What is the mission of the archive, who are its subjects and objects, and which community of users does it bring together? The outcome is both a general overview, and the possibility of a comparative approach. Our original motivation has been to survey and to analyse a sample of available online resources for dance documentation and/or archiving, in order to feed TKB future projects and experiences. Starting from the TKB project perspective, and aiming at categorizing the different approaches to storage, curation, ownership and availability reflected by those archival platforms, we finally identified three major challenges in the relation between dance and the digital archive: The question of access, the ontology of dance and archive-what it is, what it has been, and what 'dance and archiving' can become in the future-, and the 'Will to archive' (cf. Lepecki 2010). Each one of these challenges will eventually provoke new questions as to the future of the TKB project and of its team of researchers, and the nature of the work they may undertake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-288
Number of pages18
JournalDance Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Archival platforms
  • Dance
  • Dance websites
  • Digital archives
  • Knowledge-bases
  • Participatory and post custodial archives
  • TKB project


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