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Welcome to the UMD Libraries' New Website!

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Collection now available online for public access, scholarly research

Dancers, dance educators, and dance scholars, as well as people and organizations working with aging populations will all find valuable content in this resource.

Shelves within the Special Collections for the Performing Arts.

Scientists, construction workers, government officials, shipyard workers, and older dancers. These are just a few of the unlikely groups of everyday people that pioneering choreographer Liz Lerman incorporated into her dance work. For the first time, thanks to University of Maryland Libraries’ curators in Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA) and a grant from National Endowment for the Humanities, large parts of Lerman’s body of work are now available in a new online public resource.
 
The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange Collection features digitized recordings of performances, rehearsals, workshops, and interviews from the Dance Exchange records at SCPA, totaling over 1,000 videos of archival footage. Spanning 1980 through 2004, the content of the videos represents the majority of Liz Lerman’s work as a performer, choreographer, and visionary company leader.
 
“Liz Lerman is a pioneer in myriad ways, not only as a choreographer and dancer, but as a public intellectual, thought leader, writer and educator,” says Jane Hirshberg, Artistic Planning Program Director for Theatre, Dance, and Artist Residencies. “She was one of the first artists in this country to incorporate stories of regular people, and the tellers of those stories, into stagework and one of the first choreographers to introduce text and speaking into her dance works.”
 
Dancers, dance educators, and dance scholars, as well as people and organizations working with aging populations will all find valuable content in this resource.
 
“This video collection makes Liz Lerman’s innovative and inspiring work accessible to anyone around the globe. I am looking forward to seeing the scholarship and creative expression that this project generates,” says John Davis, Curator of Special Collections in Performing Arts.
 
“The online collection makes it possible for students and others to learn about her methodology of building community, of encouraging people to see things through the lens of art, of showing the importance of rattling around in other universes besides performance, of embracing paradox, and of turning discomfort into inquiry,” Hirshberg elaborates. “Not only do these videos show direct evidence of her genius and creativity, they show her generosity as a mentor, leader and thought partner for other artists.”
 
The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange is also the first collection made available in Avalon, the Libraries’ new streaming media repository. Avalon is an open-source media repository supported by grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Mellon Foundation led by Indiana University and Northwestern University. Avalon leverages open digital library technology and represents an important step in modernizing the Libraries’ digital collections infrastructure.

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