THE Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, has launched the country’s first archive of dance material, which is to be housed in the University of Limerick.
Mr Deenihan was in UL this Monday to perform the honour of officially opening the first ever National Dance Archive of Ireland, a comprehensive collection that will hold a number of old photographs, letters, newspapers cuttings and programmes from private collections, all related to dance.
The launch was hosted by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance but the archive will be housed in the Glucksman Library and is a partnership project between Dance Research Forum Ireland, the Irish World Academy and the Arts Council.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Deenihan said “all aspects of Ireland’s dance history can be found in this wonderful archive which highlights the broad range of styles and genres of this diverse art form”.
“The National Dance Archive of Ireland will raise the profile of dance at home and abroad and will give us all a greater sense of how dance in Ireland has developed in the past and how it may evolve in the future.
“What makes this project so exciting is that those involved in dance can donate materials and contribute to the archive’s database on an on-going basis. Such an interactive resource will ensure that everyone can experience and enjoy the richness, diversity and uniqueness of dance in Ireland,” he added.
The archive will be home to over forty collections of dance materials, donated by individuals, companies and dance organisations. Over 5,000 dance items, spanning a period of over 100 years, of diverse multimedia materials in the form of print and audio-visual, will be stored within it.
Dr Catherine Foley, director of the archive and a course director in the Irish World Academy, said that following years of effort, the collection was “now a reality”.
“I think an important characteristic of the archive is the fact that it is inclusive of all dance forms and, therefore, dancers, no matter what their dance background and experience, have something to contribute,” she said.
Ms Foley, Mary Nunan, Piedra-Alba Perez-Alcantara, Patricia Crosbie and Hannah Windows all performed for the minister at the launch. It was preceded by a seminar with several speakers.