Dunham’s Data: Katherine Dunham and Digital Methods for Dance Historical Inquiry is a three-year project (2018-2021) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), under the direction of Kate Elswit (PI, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London) and Harmony Bench (CI, The Ohio State University). Through this project, we explore the kinds of questions and problems that make data analysis and visualization meaningful for dance historical inquiry. To do so, we are investigating how dance moves both across geographical locations and across networks of cultural, artistic, and financial capital through the case study of Katherine Dunham. The core project team is joined by UK industry partners One Dance UK’s Dance of the African Diaspora and the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as international knowledge exchange partnerships with digital projects at Ludwig Maximilians Universität Munich (Germany) and the University of New South Wales (Australia).
Dance in Transit (Harmony Bench and Kate Elswit, PI) is a digital humanities research project that applies the tools of data analysis to the study of dance history. In particular, this project emphasizes the necessary relation between touring performers and the modes, networks, and infrastructures of transportation that link cities, countries, and cultures. Dance in Transit focuses on African American choreographer Katherine Dunham, whose work as a choreographer and anthropologist included research trips throughout the Caribbean, global travel for her work in the Hollywood film industry, as well as the domestic and international touring of her dance company. Dance in Transit seeks to make visible the itinerant life of a mid-century choreographer and bring focused attention to modes of transportation and transmission--as well as the relational infrastructures--that enable the global spread of dance. Dance in Transit is supported by a Battelle Engineering, Technology, and Human Affairs (BETHA) Grant.
Mapping Touring (Harmony Bench, PI) is a digital humanities research project that documents and tracks the appearances of dancers, choreographers, and dance companies/troupes in the first half of the 20th century as they toured domestically and internationally. Of particular concern is representing the dates of performance, cities and venues, and repertory performed in each site. The project proposes that close examination of dancers on the move demands that scholars grapple more concertedly with global economies of movement in the early 20th century. In addition, as patterns of touring emerge, so will regional dance histories, offering a fuller portrait of local arts communities across the country. Finally, Mapping Touring aims to make performers more visible to the historical record. Mapping Touring is supported by a Research and Creative Activity Grant from The Ohio State University, as well as a Battelle Engineering, Technology, and Human Affairs (BETHA) Grant.