Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

November 16, 1998

An American Ballroom Companion Web Site To Go On-Line

Dance Instruction Manuals Cover
More than 400 Years of Social Dance

The complete release of a multimedia collection of dance materials covering more than 400 years will be on-line Nov. 23 from the Library of Congress's American Memory Web site at

"An American Ballroom Companion: Dance Instruction Manuals, ca. 1490-1920" was produced by the National Digital Library Program, in conjunction with the Music Division, and is the most recent performing arts collection to be released by the Library.

The centerpiece of this site consists of more than 200 books relating to instruction of social dance during the 400 years that are represented in the collection. Complete page images are available for all books, and many are text converted (in SGML as well as HTML) to enable comprehensive searching. In addition to dance instruction itself, the books cover other related topics such as etiquette, dance history, anti-dance treatises and notation.

The newest feature of "An American Ballroom Companion" is the addition of 75 video demonstrations of many of these historic dances, enabling users to compare directly the written texts with the movements themselves. These short videos consist of excerpts from a performance in full costume, as well as close-up video "tutorials" of specific steps. The videos are linked extensively throughout the site, and are provided in four different formats to allow for variations in user equipment.

This site is the first of the Library's performing arts electronic collections to feature complete books on-line, along with video clips. This collection provides a way for scholars, dancers and students of all levels to research and replicate the steps to historic dances from their nearest computer terminal. These materials represent a comprehensive look at the history of social dance within the context of specific eras, from the Renaissance pavane and galliard to the group dances of the late 18th century, the popular 19th century waltz and the more adventurous dances (such as the tango) of the ragtime era.

Other features of this site include a narrative overview of the collection in a historical context and a special section on "How to Use a Dance Manual." Both of these were written by noted dance historian and choreographer Elizabeth Aldrich, who served as special consultant on this project.

"An American Ballroom Companion" is an electronic collection only; the books themselves are located in several Library divisions including Music and Rare Book as well as the general collections.

American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program, which, in collaboration with other major repositories, is making available on-line millions of important materials relating to American history by the year 2000, the Bicentennial of the Library of Congress. More than 40 collections and 1 million items are now available in media ranging from photographs, manuscripts and maps to motion pictures, sound recordings and presidential papers.

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PR 98-183
ISSN 0731-3527

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