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Dance Education: In the Reference Room

Provides an introduction to resources in the field of dance. This guide is intended as a starting place for researchers, pointing to tools for finding books, scholarly articles, reviews, and other topical and collection-related information.

Sculpture of a Dancing Girl

Sculpture of a Dancing Girl, Bubaneshwar, 1 February 2008, Source: Own work, Author Sujit kumar

Start your research by using the Histories, Encyclopedias and Dictionaries available in the reference room.  The General Humanities and Social Sciences Reference Room is located on the 1st fl. of Bobst.  Books such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and directories are often used to answer quick questions or provide background information about a topic before pursuing more detailed research. If you are just getting started these tools will acquaint you with the terms and ideas in your topic.  Many of these are available online.  Visit the General, Humanities, & Social Sciences Reference room on the 1st fl. for the full selection.

online reference

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

  • Bremser, Martha. International Dictionary of Ballet. Washington, DC: St. James Press, 1993.
    Bobst REF1 GV1585 .I57 1993 v.1-2
    Entries in this dictionary cover individual artists, ballets and ballet companies. Each entry includes biographical, professional, and historical information, as well as publications about the person, company, or ballet.
  • Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara Naomi. Biographical Dictionary of Dance. New York: Schirmer Books, 1982.
    Bobst REF1 GV1785.A1 C58 1982
    Biographical information on over 2900 dance professionals. Aims to be comprehensive, covering ballet, modern, jazz, pop, burlesque, vaudeville, musical theater and film. Contains a selective bibliography. Good for the exotic.
  • Grant, Gail. Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet. 3d. rev. ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1982.
    Bobst REF1 GV1787 .G68 1982
    Defines hundreds of ballet terms, from "Abstract Ballet" to "Wrapped Position." Arrangement is alphabetical, with pronunciation guides for non-English terms, a selective bibliography, and illustrations by the author.
  • Preston-Dunlop, Valerie, comp. Dance Words. [Philadelphia, PA]: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1995.
    Bobst REF1 GV1585 .P74 1995
    A dictionary of dance terms used by dance people in their work. Includes a bibliography and an index.

Research Guides, Handbooks

  • Adshead, Janet and June Layson, eds. Dance History: A Methodology for Study. London: Dance Books, 1983.
    Bobst REF1 GV1603 .D25 1983
    Discusses the how's and why's of dance research, especially the evaluation of sources, and what constitutes a primary or secondary source. Includes bibliographic essays on dance texts, newspapers and periodicals.
  • Dancemagazine College Guide.New York: Dance Magazine. Latest edition only.
    Bobst REF1 Career GV1623 .D26
    Covers dance programs in North American colleges and universities. "Spotlight" section features major dance programs; second section, minor and non-degree programs; and last section, non-credit and certificate programs.
  • Morgan, Bradley J, and Joseph M. Palmisano, eds. Performing Arts Career Directory. Washington, DC: Gale, 1994.
    Bobst REF1 Career PN2055 .P47
    This directory provides helpful advice to those who want to work in the Performing Arts. Chapters for those seeking careers as choreographers, ballet dancers, artistic directors, and instructors are included.
  • Rose, Brian G. Television and the Performing Arts: A Handbook and Reference Guide to American Cultural Programming. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986.
    Bobst REF1 PN1992.66 .R67 1986
    The second chapter, "Dance on Television," provides both a historical overview and, a stimulus for further research. Includes an excellent bibliography and a selected videography.
  • White, David R., et. al., eds. Poor Dancer's Almanac. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993.
    Bobst REF1 GV1597 .P66 1993
    Artists talk about surviving and succeeding in the performing arts. They discuss everything from marketing yourself to health insurance in this useful handbook.


  • Bopp, Mary S. Research in Dance: A Guide to Resources. New York: G.K. Hall, 1994.
    Bobst REF1 Z7514.D2 B6 1994
    This volume provides information about reference resources, special collections, and professional organizations, as well as a list of journals published about dance.
  • Fleshman, Bob, ed. Theatrical Movement: A Bibliographical Anthology. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1986.
    Bobst REF1 PN2071.G4 T46 1986
    Consists of overviews/essays and bibliographies on movement, dance, theater and performance in Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Topics include: Systems of Dance/Movement Notation; Body Systems; (Non) Anthropologists, the Dance, and Human Movement; Movement Performance of Other Cultures; Dances in the MiddleEast; Movement in African Performances; Native American Dance and Drama.
  • Forbes, Fred R., Jr. Dance: An Annotated Bibliography, 1965-1982. New York:Garland,1986.
    Bobst REF1 Z7514.D2 F58 1986 Information sources (books, articles, book chapters, dissertations, theses) in English. Multidisciplinary approach. Areas covered include: aesthetics, anthropology, education, history, literature, physiology, psychology and sociology. Author and subject indexes.
  • The New York Public Library. Bibliographic Guide to Dance. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1975 to date.
    Bobst REF1 Z7514.D2 N462a
    An annual update to the basic catalog. These holdings are also available online through the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dance Collection Home Page 
  • Ortolani, Benito, ed. International Bibliography of Theatre. New York: Theatre Research Data Center, 1982- .
    Bobst REF1 Z5781 .I8 1982-
    This source indexes books, book chapters, dissertations, journal articles, and other documents. Dance and Dance Drama the two specific subjects covering dance literature.
  • Kibbee, Josephine Z. Cultural Anthropology: A Guide to Reference and Information Sources. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1991.
    Bobst Z5111 .K53 1991 Non-circulating A bibliography of bibliographies and other reference sources. Dance is buried within other topics, so some searching is necessary.

Dance Literature Indexes

In addition to the items listed below, one must search the general periodical and newspaper literature, under the appropriate headings, to locate journal or newspaper articles on dance.

  • Belknap, S. Yancey, comp. Guide to Dance Periodicals. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1955-1963.
    Bobst REF1 Z7514.D2 G8
    Of the ten volumes published, Bobst has volume one (1931-1935) and volumes five through seven (1951-1956). Among the American and English journals indexed are: Dance Magazine, The Dancing Times, Dance Perspectives, Dance and Dancers, Dance Observer,and several now-defunct magazines. Check the periodicals list in each volume; coverage varies from volume to volume. Continued by Guide to the Performing Arts (see below).
  • Belknap, S. Yancey, comp. Guide to the Performing Arts. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1961-1972.
    Bobst MusicRef ML118 .G8
    Ten volumes cover 1959 to 1968. The final volume was compiled by Louis Rachow and Katherine Hartley. Indexes a select group of music, theater, television and dance journals; coverage of journals varies from year to year.
  • Dunn, Elsie Ivancich, senior ed. Dance Abstracts and Index 1989: English Language Publications in the United States. Los Angeles, CA: Dance Database Project, 1991-
    Bobst REF1 GV1594 .D35
    This volume indexes dance-related materials found in titles that do not necessarily focus on dance. These items include: books, journals, conference proceedings, newsletters, etc. Includes an index.
  • News Bank. Performing Arts Index. New Canaan, CT: NewsBank, Inc., 1975-
    Bobst REF1 Z6935 .R4
    Newsbank indexes articles about dance and other performing arts from regional newspapers. The articles themselves are available on microfiche in the Microforms Center on the LL2.

Ballets - Guides, Synopses, Plots

  • Reynolds, Nancy and Susan Reimer-Torn. Dance Classics: Major Works from the Ballet and Modern Dance Repertory . Pennington, NJ: A Capella Books, 1991.
    Bobst REF1 GV1790.A1 R43 1991
    Brief discussions about key dance works. Includes photographs, glossary, and an index.
  • Studwell, William E. and David A. Hamilton. Ballet Plot Index: A Guide to Locating Plots and Descriptions of Ballets and Associated Materials. New York: Garland Publishing, 1987.
    Bobst REF1 GV1790.A1 S77 1987
    A list of ballets with reference to a source or sources for plot information. Includes a composer's index.


  • Ballet Annual. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1947-1964.
    Bobst GV1787 .B25
    No longer published. Bobst Library has: v.1-4 (1947-50), 6-7 (1952-53), 9-12 (1955-58), 14-18 (1960-64). Edited by Arnold Haskell and Mary Clarke. Features include: "A Ballet Check List" a record of ballet activity for that year's London season; Obituaries; and, "Outstanding Events of the Year." The remainder of each volume is devoted to essays on the dance, all by highly regarded dance critics and many providing overviews on national dance (eg., Ballet in Hungary, Ballet in South Africa).
  • Stern's Directory: A Publication of Dance Magazine (formerly Stern's Performing Arts Directory, Dance Magazine Annual and Performing Arts Directory). New York: Dance Magazine, current issue only.
    Bobst REF1 PN1560 .P3 [current issue only; back issues in stacks]
    This annual source book for the performing arts provides lists of dance, mime, and children's theatre companies, dance schools, services, and orgnizations.
  • World Ballet and Dance: An International Yearbook.. New York: Oxford University Press.
    Bobst GV1580 .W65 Latest Edition Only
    An annual that covers the international dance and ballet world, and includes features on the dancer's environment. An appendix includes statistical information about major dance companies. Indexed.