Historical Dance in the World of Digital Resources

Our August blog comes from Sharon Butler, Secretary of the Early Dance Centre, who tells us about the CULTURE MOVES Project in collaboration with the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University & Europeana to create a MOOC about early dance history.

Historical dance is embedded in European art and history. The mission of the Early Dance Circle (EDC) is to promote the enjoyment, performance and study of dance from the 15th century onward at a time when dance history (beyond ballet) has seemed off the agenda. We hope to help change that. Our National Resource Centre for Historical Dance is housed at Kellogg College at the University of Oxford.

For many years the EDC committee has worked to widen the spread of knowledge about early dance in the UK, and even abroad, but dance classes, lectures and festivals can achieve only so much. We want to preserve what we have, its documentation and its transmission – its future life as an art form in itself.

We have been working on a project called CULTURE MOVES with Coventry University and Europeana, an online source for sharing cultural heritage. This project aims to make content available via technology, developing tourism and education, and supporting our intangible cultural heritage, specifically dance. It wants to move cultural heritage beyond bricks, mortar and wallpaper.

The outcome of our common labours since April is a MOOC. Yes, a MOOC! Unlovely name for Massive Open Online Course of study made available over the internet without charge to a very large number of people. Anyone can simply log on and sign up.

Barbara Segal, Baroque Dancer, Early Dance Module

The Early Dance Module is one of a set in the process of being developed, tested and disseminated at the moment. The four modules include a general overview of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Annotation, Dance and Site, Im/material Cultural Heritage – Costumes, Masks and Museums and an Early Dance Module in collaboration with Early Dance Circle and the Chalemie School (UK).

Ann Brown, Costumier, Early Dance Module

The on-line resource aims at learners from the general public to university students. Learners will meet early dance in relation to culture, history, tourism and sheer enjoyment. Reading lists and links to other tools, materials and resources are included. Assignments suggest questions and tasks. As an Introduction to Baroque Dance, this module takes someone new to these dances into their world. It focuses on the more formal couple dances, rather than the professional, stage and comedic (more virtuosic) sides of baroque dance. We hope it will not stand alone, but that these other aspects and also the rich and various heritage of country dances will be the subject of other educational films.

Costume guides, Early Dance Module

The opening interview introduces early dance and the work of EDC, meanwhile showing dancers in Barbara Segal’s baroque class and the notation they are using. Barbara’s interview provides more detail about the nature and importance of baroque dance and its key features. A third interview introduces costume over the era. The culmination is the Chalemie students’ final concert, danced in costume after their week of study. EDC’s thanks go out to all who took part. We could not have achieved this without the support of Chalemie and its students and of the University of Coventry’s C-DaRE team. The CultureMoves team worked closely with Reel Master Productions and RosaSenCis Production Company to produce the films. Without Rosa Kostic Cisneros, this work would have been impossible. Our film will be published on the CultureMoves YouTube channel and will be available for participants of the MOOC in late 2019. Overall, it was an exhilarating experience.

Sharon Butler, Secretary of the Early Dance Circle, Early Dance Module

Rosa Kostic Cisneros of C-DaRE at Coventry University is now looking for people to offer feedback on the modules once they are fully ready and to help with dissemination. Please contact her at if you would like to get involved: ab4928@coventry.ac.uk

https://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-directories/current-projects/2018/culture-moves/

https://www.culturemoves.eu/

www.earlydancecircle.co.uk