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Published: 17 February 2017

Digitising dance heritage

Since 2008, expertise and resources in Surrey's dance division including Surrey's National Resource Centre for Dance, which was established in 1982, have contributed to creating an innovative dance archive for the public.

The aim of the Digital Dance Archives (DDA) project was to enhance access, visibility and experimentation with dance heritage, using innovative engagement and dissemination mechanisms for historiographical archive material on dance and choreography.

The DDA platform currently provides access to eight online dance collections covering a range of genres and time periods extending more than a century, ranging from Laban sketches through to more dance modern works. The site was designed to produce a platform based on visual content, searchable by both traditional text and innovative visual search technologies such as pattern recognition. These were produced with the help of experts from Surrey’s Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing, who created unique algorithms that would identify poses and colour in diverse images and mixed media.

The project also included practice-based research, leading to choreographic performance work that rendered geometries and spatial logics in physical form based on archival drawings from the Rudolf Laban Archive.

The DDA has become a key educational resource accessed by thousands of users worldwide. Preserving the cultural heritage of dance, it has widened access to this art form and its pioneering digital methods have received wide interest from the performing arts sector informing artists, dance companies and other archive developers.

Visit the Digital Dance Archives website.