10.1 The Library has been involved over many years in various externally funded projects to raise awareness of the significance of collecting and preserving dance materials as part of the record of Australian creative life. Dance is one of the major performing arts in Australia in historical, contemporary, Indigenous and multicultural settings and has long formed a highly participative social activity in the community. However, since dance by its nature is not well represented in notated forms, it is necessary to actively encourage the systematic documentation and collection of Australia’s dance culture. For this reason, the Library is committed to a special focus on dance within its oral history and folklore, manuscript, pictures, ephemera and music collection development policies and aims to improve access to national collections and resources through the Australia Dancing web service.


10.2 The Library is building its collection of dance and dance-related materials that form part of the documentary record of Australian culture, as part of the Library’s national heritage responsibilities. The focus of collecting is upon Australian dance resources across a broad spectrum of dance styles, including folk and multicultural dance. The aim is to support the preservation of dance materials and documentation of dance in Australia and to provide access to dance and dance-related information for all Australians, as well as to meet the specific needs of the dance and research communities. The Library actively collects materials that especially preserve and document the synergies and relationships between Australian music, dance, design and theatre.


10.3 ‘Australian dance’ is defined as dance created by Australians and Australian companies in Australia or overseas, or associated with Australia by explicit Australian performance or subject reference. ‘Creators’ encompass choreographers, composers, artistic directors, dancers, designers, production assistants, general managers who have artistic, musical, intellectual, production or managerial responsibilities. ‘Australian creators’ in dance include those who were born or who have resided permanently in Australia, or who have continued to be recognised as Australian although residence in Australia has not been continuous, or who have been identified through work in Australia as Australian.


10.4 The acquisition of Australian dance materials includes personal archives, organisational papers and oral histories of significant dancers, choreographers, and others involved in dance; notated dance scores, archival sound recordings of folk dance music, pictorial material and ephemera documenting dance history and practice; and materials that support research and study of Australian dance. Notated dance scores, published or unpublished, will be acquired according to the same guidelines as printed, manuscript or digital music scores. Overseas materials which exemplify artistic relationships and cultural contexts that inform the development of Australian dance in Australia and overseas, are collected according to the provisions for Overseas Collections (see para.11.1).

Australian Digital Dance Resources

10.5 The Library selects dance websites for archiving via the PANDORA web archive as part of its commitment to the collection of and access to dance resources. The Library supports the cooperative digitisation and delivery of dance resources by other Australian institutions, as well as access to dance information and documentation, delivered through Australia Dancing or the Library’s Ballets Russes website.

10.6 The Library considers the holdings and digital availability of items from other institutions when selecting retrospective items for purchase. The Library does not collect stand-alone audiovisual documentation of Australian dance, except where this forms part of personal or organisational manuscript collections.

Access to the Collections

10.7 Access to the Library’s dance materials is primarily through the Library’s catalogue and through the resource directory on Australia Dancing. Additionally, finding aids are selectively being created to enhance access to dance resources in the ephemera and manuscript collections.

10.8 The Library is digitising some dance collection materials, making them accessible through the Library’s digital collections and services. Integrated and cooperative access to Australian dance resources in multiple formats is available through Australia Dancing.

10.9 Dance materials are often unique and irreplaceable which means that they are delivered for use under supervision through the special collections reading rooms or the Petherick Reading Room. Provided there are no preservation risks or copyright restrictions, copies of dance materials can be made for readers within the Library or from offsite. Original materials normally remain within the Library at all times, except where lent for exhibition or special purposes.

Relations with other Institutions

10.10 The policies and activities of other collecting institutions, particularly the National Film and Sound Archive, the state libraries and performing arts museums or collections, have a bearing on the Library’s collecting priorities and procedures in relation to dance. The Library’s special focus in acquiring dance materials within oral history and folklore, manuscript, pictures, ephemera and music collections, as well as notated dance scores, is complemented by the National Film and Sound Archive which collects Australia’s audiovisual heritage.

10.11 The Library collects archival sound recordings pertaining to Australia’s folk dance heritage as part of its Oral History and Folklore collection. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies is the principal repository of sound and audiovisual recordings of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance. However other Australian Indigenous dance material is collected by the Library in accordance with the provisions of this collection development policy.

10.12 With initial financial assistance from the Australia Council and in partnership with Ausdance, the peak industry body for dance in Australia, and other institutions, the Library has developed integrated web access to dance resources and information in Australia, contemporary and historical, through the portal Australia Dancing.