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Dance Archives

GME has actively contributed to strategies for archiving the work of dance choreographers. The physical manifestations of their creative process comprise notebooks and sketches, moving image recordings, photographs, programs of performances, and other kinds of materials. Our objective is to help further the legacy of these artists through implementation of a cataloguing system that mirrors their working method, situating their body of work within a larger artistic and historical context and identifying organizations to store, preserve, exhibit and promote research use of all the elements in these collections. Among the dance collections on which GME has worked include the archive of choreographer, cinematographer and dancer Cathy Weis.

 

Cathy Weis

Cathy Weis in Dummy Photo by Richard Termine, 1999

Cathy Weis in Dummy
Photo by Richard Termine, 1999

The Cathy Weis Archive contains hundreds of hours of footage of Weis’ work as a performance videographer in New York City from 1983 through the present day. Weis approaches her documentary work with a choreographer’s eye, capturing not merely the spatial records for the purpose of
restaging the choreography, but the nuances of performance usually lost in conventional recording. Documenting many rare and improvisational performances by emerging and established artists, as well as discussions, informal gatherings, and outdoor scenes, Weis has produced an archive that is a unique record of dance and performance from an eclectic and dynamic period in the history of New York City art-making. The archive is not only an invaluable resource for the creative processes of dancers, performers, and artists, but for dance historians and educators as well.

Preserving and cataloguing the holdings of the archive is a major and ongoing initiative of Cathy Weis Projects. With the consent of the artists represented, excerpts will ultimately be made accessible to artists, performers, students, scholars, and critics all over the world. Weis’ latest creative project, Look Into the Past with Madame Xenogamy, is an initial way the public can engage with some of the archive’s rare and historic footage.

Recognizing a critical need for the preservation of the tapes, in early 2003, Weis engaged Gartenberg Media Enterprises, a company that restores and distributes libraries of classic and avant-garde films and archives of publishing and photographic assets. With their help, Weis developed a customized and comprehensive catalogue with standardized nomenclature for the diverse camera positions and points of view represented in the recorded imagery, and of all creative, intellectual, and technological information related to each work. The digitization and cataloging of the archive’s holdings remains an ongoing project.