Helen Tamiris teaching at the American Dance Festival, 1959

Posted in 2012, School '12.


Each summer, the ADF’s Archives department documents the festival by videotaping performances, classes, showings, panel discussions, and other special events. There is a rich history of modern dance in the Archives’ moving images collection, where there is film going back as far as 1930. Many of ADF’s films and videos can be viewed at Duke University’s Lilly Library on East Campus.

Recently, the ADF received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to preserve one of the motion picture films in its collection. A student shot the silent black and white footage in 1959, when the ADF was held at Connecticut College. The forty-minute film depicts faculty, classes, students, and student rehearsals. Much of the film features footage of choreographer Helen Tamiris, and the excerpt above shows Tamiris rehearsing her piece “Memoir” with the students in her repertory class.

While Tamiris is considered a pioneer of American modern dance and one of the major American choreographers of the period, there is surprisingly little footage of her compared to other notable choreographers of the time, and ADF is grateful for NFPF’s assistance in preserving this film and making it available to the public.