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Dance Research Guide: Catalog subject searching; using catalog records

a guide to outstanding dance resources for research and enrichment

Helpful hints about dance subject searching

Dance topics best searched for as "Subject words," rather than Subject headings

For a number of topics, "Subject words" searches are better than searches for Subject headings, using Advanced search mode.  These include

Dance teaching/pedagogy - suggested Subject words search: danc* AND study - this will retrieve titles with subject heading Dance - study and teaching. You may also want to browse subject headings Ballet - study and teaching; Modern dance - study and teaching; Choreography - study and teaching, etc., or combine different headings in a search, as in the example below.  Note the use of the word "OR" in capital letters, which is essential to retrieve maximum results.

combined search for dance-related "study and teaching" headings

Vocational topics - job or work-related dance themes - suggested search: danc* AND vocation* (the word "vocational" appears in many subject headings with different word orders)

Dance history - the word "history" appears in many subject headings with different word orders.  Suggested search: danc* AND history AND [term of your choice, for example, "20th century"]. Your chosen terms could be placed in a "Words anywhere" or "Title words" box, if needed.

Dance by century - suggested search: danc* AND ["chosen century"], either as a "Subject words" or "Words anywhere" search.  Possibilities extend from the "15th century" to the "21st century" (use quotes) and could be spelled out (e.g. "fifteenth century").  Ballet or other specific dance types can be used in place of, or in addition to, danc*.  For a small selection of dance works published in earlier centuries, do a subject heading search in Basic search mode for Dance - early works to 1800.

World dance - referred to variously as "folk dance," "ethnic dance," "traditional dance" or "national dance," primarily; however, the words "global" or "world" may come into play; also in connection with ballet, "character dance."

Dance topics with unexpected or complicated subject search patterns

Some dance topics are found under subject terms you might not normally think of.  Note the use of the "OR" selection in two of the search examples below.

Instead of   SEARCH FOR THIS:  


Dance education   "Movement education" OR Physical Education AND "Words anywhere" danc*  


Dance theory   "Dance philosophy" OR ("Title words" danc* AND theor* OR "Words anywhere" "dance theory")  


    Movement aesthetics OR Movement philosophy OR Choreography philosophy    
Social dance   "Ballroom dancing" OR "Words anywhere" "social danc*" (use asterisk)  


Catalog records - what's in them for you

Empower yourself by learning how to interpret catalog information.

Search vocabulary

As you can see from the discussion to the left, finding the right combinations of words to search on can be a challenge. With traditional / world dances this can be especially difficult. See a snippet from the Dance in World Cultures guide on finding terms for a particular form of traditional Korean dance.

Dance Librarian

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Laura Ruede
TCU Box 298400, Fort Worth, TX 76129