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Dance Research Guide: Images

a guide to outstanding dance resources for research and enrichment

Images from the web

New York Public Library Digital Gallery, Jerome Robbins Dance Division - a wealth of image and text resources are available online from NYPL. Don't miss NYPL's online collection of public domain "Prints Depicting Dance."


Color brochure for Ballet Russe American tour, 1916-7. Digital ID: 196189. New York Public Library


Left: Image from color brochure for Serge Diaghileff's Ballet Russe tour of America, October 1916 to February 1917.  The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division.  Digital ID BALRUSSE_BR01.

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russe, 1909-1929 : When Art Danced With Music - National Gallery, Washington; NPR feature; DVD with art and performances

Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929 - Victoria and Albert Museum, London

A Centennial Celebration of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes - Library of Congress (online exhibit)

Ballet Russe Scenery Collection - Butler University


Digital Public Library of America - this growing resources links to a plethora of repositories such as the Smithsonian, in order to give searchers access to digitized primary source materials.  A search for danc* gives you the opportunity to refine to Dancing, Dancers, Women in the performing arts and more.  Many fine images are available, of, for example - Pearl Primus ; Ballets Russes.

Library of Congress Collections

An Invitation to Dance (American Antiquarian Society) - this online exhibition contains many unique primary source images from old dance texts.

Public domain image sources (guide)

Free-to-use images are curated into a new research guide by the TCU Library's own Laura Steinbach: 

Images from databases

ArtStor - over 300,000 digital art images and associated images (including photographs) that can be used, once an account is set up, for noncommercial and scholarly, non-profit pursuits consistent with ArtStor's Terms and Conditions.  Images are international in scope and coverage includes a wide variety of civilizations, time periods and media, and come from such sources as museums, archaeological teams, photo archives, slide collections, and art reference publishers.  Try a search for dancers*,  selecting the category Performing Arts, in order to browse, or search the names of dancers (for example, Ruth St. Denis), dance styles, etc.  Sample a captivating image depicting dancer Loie Fuller at the Folies Bergere in Paris, 1897. NOTE: ArtStor content will move to JSTOR on August 1, 2024. In the meantime, JSTOR offers a transition guide and a view of the main search page for JSTOR images. (See images of Loie Fuller.)

Performance Design Archive Online (database) - this resource covers all aspects of theater production design, from the 17th century through to the present day, including, scenic and set design, lighting design, sound design, costume design, makeup, and more. Sample images depicting the designs of Leon Bakst.

 Chronicling America (Library of Congress) - this wonderful resource from LOC offers newspaper selections photographically when you search, so you can more swiftly choose the images you want.  Newspapers start as far back as 1836.  Check out this selection on Isadora Duncan from the Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1922. Sample a search for Ruth St. Denis.

Newpaper Archive (formerly Access Newspaper Archive) - tens of millions of searchable newpaper pages - actual newspapers as opposed to reformatted texts - dating as far back as the 1700s. Some surprising dance images can be discovered in this database.  Try the March 5, 1933 edition of the Charleston Daily Mail featuring Ruth St. Denis, "A New Experiment in Dancing:  Ruth St. is planning to Interpret, by Means of the Dance, the Great Philosophies of the World," by Gove Hambidge, which has vivid illustrations of production sets, and the February 26, 1911 edition of the San Antonio Light and Gazette, "The Secret of the Pharaoh's Favorite Dances..." by Ruth St. Denis herself, full of exotic images.

Dance Online: Dance Studies Collection - while not an easy database to do research in, there are reams of beguiling images within it. Sample covers from The American Dancer, predecessor to Dance Magazine.

AP Images - an archive of photos, graphics, text and audio from the Associated Press.  Photographs date back to 1826, audio files to the 1920s, and news stories to 1997.