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Highlights of recent Austrian tour to be presented by OU School of Dance for Dance Partners

BY BRITTANY RAY, OU School of Dance Modified: September 24, 2012 at 10:32 am •  Published: September 24, 2012

After a 2005 Norman screening of Dan Geller and Danya Goldfine’s documentary Ballets Russes, the film director, along with former ballerina Yvonne Chouteau, asked attendees: “What are we going to do with all our memorabilia?”

The question prompted Holt to organize OU’s Ballets Russes Archive, a specialty collection for research that houses materials from three companies: Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Col. de Basil’s Original Ballet Russe and Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. To date, more than 70 contributors have sent such items as photographs, contracts, correspondence, scores, video tapes and film.

In 2011, through the office of the Vice President for Research, a Faculty Challenge Grant was established, an opportunity for all OU academics to apply. As principal researcher for the Ballets Russes Archive, Camille Hardy submitted a proposal entitled “Shaping the Information Future of Dance Research: Joint Challenge Grant Proposal from OU’s School of Dance and School of Library and Information Studies.”

Hardy was awarded $100,000 to support a two-year process of preserving archival materials and preparing all for digitization, ultimately to make the Ballets Russes Archive available to local students and faculty and international scholars.

The grant funds provide payment for a part-time librarian, Jeri Smalley, and three graduate assistants, one from dance and two from the School of Library and Information Studies. One of the latter, Tara M. Davis, was awarded a 2012 summer internship for archival specialists by the Dance Heritage Coalition.

Smalley will inform Dance Partners as to recent developments in the archive. The Dance Partners event will close with refreshments and conversation with dancers and faculty.

The University of Oklahoma’s program in dance was founded in 1963 by Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov, former principal dancers with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. What had been a department became the School of Dance in 1998 with Mary Margaret Holt as director.

Undergraduate and graduate dance majors, along with general education students, total approximately 1000 enrollees in dance classes per semester. The School of Dance’s state-of-the-art facility in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Art Center was completed in 2005.