The Getz Dance Library is an extensive collection of books and materials, mainly on theatrical dance, assembled over six decades. The growth of the field's literature, on both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere, has largely been a twentieth-century phenomenon. The collection reflects that coming of age in its comprehensive book holdings and unbroken runs of most of the leading English-language dance periodicals. It incorporates as well several hundred souvenir programs, a wide array of press kits that number into the thousands, thousands of playbills annotated by Don McDonagh, and a wealth of ephemera. Although predominantly an English-language collection, the Getz Dance Library also has significant holdings in several foreign languages. By far the largest representation is Russian (405 books), plus 49 titles in other Slavic languages and non-Slavic Eastern European books. Danish, Swedish, and Dutch are substantially represented. French and German are more selectively included. In building the collection the net has been cast as widely as possible. From the very beginning there was a specific aim: to assemble a dance research library that would serve the widest number of users, from the curious young student to the professional scholar. To that end it was essential to cover all types of dance as well as the diverse subject categories within the discipline. The count of books and materials in the collection comes to 6,828 and the periodical count runs to approximately 5,390 individual issues (representing fifty-four different serials). These counts do not include the souvenir programs, press kits, annotated playbills, or ephemera. To indicate the size, scope, and utility of the Getz Dance Library, the website includes a complete list of its books and materials (723 pages), a selected list of subject categories, and a list of the periodical holdings. Additionally, there are seven assessment statements about the collection by experts in the field.
To fully appreciate the intellectual value of a collection of this magnitude to the dance scholar, one must realize that compared to all the other arts dance has only a very limited print record. Indeed, it would not be unfair to say that its literature is still in a formative stage, with many gaping voids waiting to be filled. It was only in the 1970s, with the advent of video (one could now see and study dance works), that dance really started to be recognized and to take root in academia. Because of this late start and the scarcity of the literature, even many of our finest university/college libraries and the main libraries of our major cities are woefully limited in their dance holdings.
Enough cannot be said of the importance of the periodical literature. The commercial/popular magazines reflect the growth and the state of the art in its own time; an invaluable record for both present and future historians. The academic journals are vehicles for scholarly/specialist articles that would otherwise not find an outlet. Both are essential to the literature of the field if it is ever to achieve parity with that of the other arts in the academic setting as a subject of intellectual inquiry and study.
It must be noted that both book and serial publications on dance, because of the highly specialized nature of the discipline and the fact that it has only in the last several decades begun to find a foothold in the academic setting, have been produced in far fewer number than comparable material in the other arts. Indeed, many of dance's most respected periodicals are and have been published in runs that just barely meet their subscriber list, thus making them particularly rare.
The Getz Dance Library comprehensively represents the field's English-language book and periodical literature to date, as well as being rich in holdings in the several foreign languages already mentioned. A collection of this size, scope, and utility would position any institution as a center for dance research and scholarship. And a dance library of this proportion, especially with so many complete (and nearly complete) runs of periodicals, will not come on the market again. All the outstanding private collections of the twentieth century — there are only seven — have already been placed. And an exceptional library in a field is testimony that an institution is seriously committed to that discipline and will act to attract both scholars and students.
My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Peter Quanz, Canadian choreographer and founder/director of Q Dance, for creating this website.