Robert Ellis Dunn collection
Robert Ellis Dunn (1928-1996) was an American dancer, choreographer, company leader, educator, musician, and curator of dance collections. The collection consists of videocassettes and papers. The videocassette recordings are of dances choreographed by Dunn, workshops taught by Dunn, panel discussions featuring Dunn, or video-recorded informal discussions including Dunn. Topics covered in Laban Movement Analysis, Judson Dance Theater, and other issues pertaining to Postmodern dance.
Important Information for Users of the Collection
The collection is open for research use. The videos are only available for use at computer workstations in the University of Maryland Libraries.
Robert Ellis Dunn collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/33475
The videos will only be available for use at computer workstations in the University of Maryland Libraries beginning in spring 2016 via Digital Collections (digital.lib.umd.edu). The papers from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. For more information, please contact the curator: Vincent J. Novara Tel: 301.405.9220, Email: email@example.com
This collection is PROCESSED.
Robert Ellis Dunn was born in Oklahoma in 1928. His original training was in music including studying theory and composition at the New England Conservatory in Boston. This was followed by studies in dance at Boston Conservatory of Music from 1955 through 1958, while concurrently teaching dance for percussionists at that institution. He relocated to New York in 1958 and began to work as a piano accompanist for major modern dance choreographers, including Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and Jose Limon. During this time he studied music theory with John Cage, an association that proved highly influential to Dunn. While in New York, he also began to teach nontraditional classes in dance improvisation and choreography at the Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village. Dunn's classes are credited with initiating the rise of the Judson Dance Theater collective (1962-1964), as well as the Postmodernist movement in dance. From 1965 through 1972 he served as the first Assistant Curator for of the Dance Collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Dunn also taught dance at Teachers College of Columbia University. In fall 1986, Dunn was appointed Associate Professor (with tenure) as a member of the faculty of the Department of Dance at the University of Maryland. Dunn received numerous awards and honors including a "Bessie" New York Dance and Performance Award in 1985, the American Dance Guild Award in 1988, and in 1993 a scholarship was named after him at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. Late in his career he began to explore videodance, resulting in the collaboration with Matthew Chernov, "DanceFindings: Robert Ellis Dunn Videodance Installation," posthumously exhibited in 1997 at the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee, WI. Dunn died on July 5, 1996 at his home in New Carrollton, Maryland.
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Robert Ellis Dunn collection covers the period 1988 through 1994; the bulk of the materials are from 1993 through 1994. The collection consists of videocassettes and papers. The videocassette recordings are of dances choreographed by Dunn, workshops taught by Dunn, panel discussions featuring Dunn, or video-recorded informal discussions including Dunn. Topics covered include Laban Movement Analysis, Judson Dance Theater, and other issues pertaining to Postmodern dance.
Custodial History and Acquisition Information
The videocassettes were a gift in October 2015 by Gretchen Dunn (spouse). Apart from an itinerary covering 1983 through 1986, the provenance of the papers is unknown; the acquisition predates 2000. The itinerary was found in a correspondence file kept by Neil Ratliff (1936-1994), a former Head of UMD's Music Library. The curator elected to bring these materials together into one collection entity as they are all the original creation of Robert Ellis Dunn, thereby facilitating ease of use and discovery by researchers.
Processed by Vincent Novara, November 2015
The videocassettes were sent for digitization in November 2015 and may be available for discovery via UMD's Digital Collections (http://digital.lib.umd.edu/) by the spring semester of 2016. The papers were housed in acid free enclosures and metal fasteners were removed. All content is described at the item level. The curator elected to bring these materials together into one collection entity as they are all the original creation of Robert Ellis Dunn, thereby facilitating ease of use and discovery by researchers.
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Pedro Gonzalez-Fernandez, November 2015
Arrangement of Collection
This collection is organized into two series:
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: Videocassettes, 1989-1994 and undated (8 videocassettes)
This series consists of eight videocassette recordings of dances choreographed by Dunn, workshops taught by Dunn, panel discussions featuring Dunn, or video-recorded informal discussions including Dunn. Topics covered in Laban Movement Analysis, Judson Dance Theater, and other issues pertaining to Postmodern dance. All labels were created by Karen Kohn Bradley or Dunn, and transcribed as written on the videocassette. (In the description, "Bob" refers to Dunn.) Materials are arranged chronologically.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|CAGEFEST, 5/6/89 "Music for Piano + 2 Dancers," Robert Ellis Dunn, Choreographer, World Premiere (Marilyn Boyd DeReggi, Director), 1989||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
|LIMS Benefit for Robert Ellis Dunn 3/16/93 at Dia Art Foundation, Anita Feldman "Landings," Regina Miranda "Exile," Philip Grosser "After the Fact," Nancy Zendora "The Return," Part I, 1993||series 1||box 1||folder 2|
|LIMS Benefit for Bob Dunn at Dia - Pt. II, 3/16/93, Kathy Wildberger, Phoebe Neville, Dick Bull, Bob, 1993||series 1||box 1||folder 3|
|Honoring Robert Ellis Dunn, Panel Discussion, Judson Church, March 17, 1993, 1993||series 1||box 1||folder 4|
|Judson Church Panel, 3/17/93, Pt. II, Martha Davis, Pauline Tisch, Simone Forti, Bob, Martha Eddy, 1 1/2 hrs., 1993||series 1||box 1||folder 5|
|Robert Ellis Dunn, 6-26-93, Marcia Parsons, Betty Salaman, Judy Steele, Cate Deicher, Bob, 1993||series 1||box 1||folder 6|
|Robert Dunn, Choreographer, UW-M '94 (24 minutes, B+W, color), 1994||series 1||box 1||folder 7|
|Dance Workshop w. Robert Dunn, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Ed Burgess, solo [no date, likely 1994], undated, likely 1994||series 1||box 1||folder 8|
Series 2: Papers, 1983-1994 (9 folders)
This series consists of writings by Dunn, a presentation script, and one piece of correspondence. Materials are arranged chronologically.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Itinerary, 1983 - 1986, Dunn's performance and academic itinerary from fall 1983 through summer 1986, just prior to his arrival at UMD, 1983-1986||series 2||box 2||folder 1|
|"Audience Response," a presentation at a drama conference held at the University of Maryland, ca. 1987-1988, 3 pp., circa 1987-1988||series 2||box 2||folder 2|
|"ADG Address," 11 June 1988, address to the American Dance Guild, 4 pp., 1988||series 2||box 2||folder 3|
|"Statement at CageFest," 5 May 1989, 1 p., 1989||series 2||box 2||folder 4|
|"Suggestions on pilot project on segmentation..." 15 June 1989, correspondence from Dunn to Vera Maletik, 1 p., 1989||series 2||box 2||folder 5|
|"Statement/Canto 1.21-2/6/89," written by Dunn, but read by the poet Jackson McLow at the North Carolina Festival of the Arts, UNC, Chapel Hill, 27 February, 1989, 7 pp., 1989||series 2||box 2||folder 6|
|"Laban movement analysis and Labanotation," 23 March 1992, essay, 2 pp., 1992||series 2||box 2||folder 7|
|"ADGle" 1 October 1994, a script outline for a lecture for the American Dance Guild, 2 pp., 1994||series 2||box 2||folder 8|
|"Dance and Analysis," 11 October 1994, essay, 5 pp., 1994||series 2||box 2||folder 9|
Larry Warren papers, Oral history by Larry Warren with Robert Ellis Dunn, 27 January 1995, Special Collections in Performing Arts
Robert Ellis Dunn papers, Library of Congress
Biography Files, Special Collections in Performing Arts: Dunn, Robert (obituaries)
Laban/Bartenieff Institute for Movement Studies records, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland
University of Maryland Dance Department records, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- Bartenieff, Irmgard
- Dunn, Robert Ellis
- Judson Dance Theater
- Laban, Rudolf von
- Laban/Bartenieff Institute for Movement Studies
- Modern dance
- Postmodern dance