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Dance Research Guide: Specialized catalogs

a guide to outstanding dance resources for research and enrichment


George Balanchine Catalog Database

Choreography by George Balanchine: A Catalogue of Works is an online searchable database of all known dances created by Balanchine, giving details of the first performance, major revisions, stagings, and visual records in a condensed form. Other searchable content include a chronology of Balanchine's life and work, as well as a bibliography, a filmography, a videography (works that are commercially available), chronological title list (click on the numbers for details), and a listing of major archival sources.  A detailed biography of Balanchine is also available.  The database is an expanded and updated electronic version of the book, Choreography by George Balanchine..., published in 1984. Research for the project, begun in 1977, involved archival study in the United States and Europe as well as correspondence and interviews with associates and dancers in many parts of the world. Until his final illness, Balanchine’s own participation in the effort was invaluable. Catalogue records are numbered in chronological order - these numbers are the primary reference designations in the database. More on the database...  A list of ballets in active repertory is available at the website of the Balanchine Trust.  (From the video realm, don't miss YouTube's Balanchine Channel.)

Notated Theatrical Dances Catalog

The Dance Notation Bureau (DNB) produces and houses scores by artists such as George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Antony Tudor, Bill T. Jones, Doris Humphrey, William Forsythe, José Limón, Laura Dean, and about 155 others. Each year DNB assists in staging some 40 works from scores. The online database retrieves  extensive information covering notation, casting, production, music, media, archival, and permission and fee information for many choreographic works, though not the complete catalog of holdings. DNB expects to offer an online catalog to its collections, including circulating and archival items.  There is a list of Notated Theatrical Dances held by the Bureau as of 2009.

Lincoln Kirstein: the Published Writings

Lincoln Kirstein: the Published Writings is an online searchable database of published writings by cultural icon Lincoln Kirstein, co-founder (with George Balanchine) of the School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet and champion of the arts in America.  (Find detailed information about Kirstein here.)  An "On Dance" section is also offered, and database searches can be limited to writings such as "On Dance." Kirstein wrote widely, far beyond dance, and his non-dance writings are also included in this database, which, while not yet connecting directly to all the writings, the site gives specific citations that enable researchers to find these works in print or online full-text through the TCU Library catalog and databases such as the International Index to the Performing Arts.  Try the library's new "discovery" search tool, FrogScholar, to make introductory searches of both the catalog and many of the databases, in order to find cited material.  Especially good for finding specific article citations is FrogScholar's Advanced search and/or the library web site's E-journals title search

Recently Dance Index issues from 1942-1948 became available for free online access here (brand-new recent issues from 2017-2020 are sold):

Print catalogs

La Danse Noble: an Inventory of Dances and Sources

Broude Brothers, 1992.  Catalog of all dances known to be preserved in Beauchamp-Feuillet notation.

Online catalogs

Dance Collection Catalog / New York Public Library
Jerome Robbins Dance Division

NYPL has one of the most extensive collections on dance anywhere.   With regard to physical materials, due to the fragility (and often rarity) of NYPL's materials, most of the materials must be used onsite, necessitating travel.  NYPL offers some materials through Interlibrary Loan; see the page devoted to the Dance Circulating Collection at NYPL for an idea.  In searching NYPL's "classic catalog" you'll probably want to select Dance Research Collection from the "Collection" drop-down box in order to focus your search more closely.  For different search parameters try using NYPL's Advanced search; to search more than one format at a time - to use video as an example - press the "Ctrl" key while clicking on DVD, E-Video, Film, and VHS.  or, alternatively, place the term "videorecording" (all one word) in a keyword box, then add other terms in other boxes.