The CCDR Collection at the ASU Herberger Institute School of Dance stands as a monument to the study of dance in cultural context and is particularly strong in the allied fields of dance ethnology, including: ethnochoreology, ethnomusicology, dance notation, anthropology, religious studies, sociology, area studies, and more. The uniqueness of the Collection is only further enhanced by virtue of its diversity: equal parts library, archives, and museum (including hundreds of objects of material culture, such as: costumes, musical instruments, and dolls). Central to its key archival holdings are the collected resources of Eleanor King and Gertrude Prokosch Kurath, soon to be enhanced by the addition of the personal archives of Joann Keali'inohomoku and Elsie Ivancich Dunin. Search the CCDR Collection Catalog here.
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Eleanor King Archives Finding Aid
This collection of manuscript material, correspondence, personal papers, drawings, photographs, slides, costumes, books, articles, and reviews, documents a span of sixty years in the life of Eleanor King, pioneer modern dancer and dance scholar.
Approximately sixty archival containers
Gertrude Kurath Archives Finding Aid
This collection of manuscript material, correspondence, personal papers, field notes, lectures, notebooks and scrapbooks, drawings, photographs, sound tapes, 8mm motion picture films, costumes, articles and reviews, documents a span of seventy years in the life of Gertrude Prokosch Kurath. Kurath was a modern dancer, musician, scholar, ethnochoreologist, ethnomusicologist, author, and was affectionately known as the "mother of dance ethnology."
42 archival file boxes plus supplemental archival storage boxes shelved with file boxes and labeled with descending initials as needed.
DdA Reference Format for Dance 2010
Proceedings of CCDR's Symposium: Applying Dance Ethnology and Dance Research in the 21st Century. 6-8 June 2003 in Flagstaff, Arizona. Compiled and edited by Elsie Ivancich Dunin with editorial assistance by Miriam S. Phillips. 110 pages; photos and graphics in black/white; spiral-bound; vinyl cover. Photos taken during the Symposium by Rose Eichenbaum.
Volume price: US$20; plus US$5 postage and handling in U.S., and US$10 overseas.
Checks in U.S. currency only, made out to CCDR
To order, contact: Christopher Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org
General publications of CCDR, including all past Newsletters and the DdA Reference Format for Dance, are hosted online by ASU Herberger Institute School of Dance and may be accessed at the following link:
This formal introduction to Silhougraphs® introduces their genesis, preparation, purpose and value, name, and some applications. The premise is that dancers create shapes in space with their bodies, with their costumes, and paraphernalia as well as with their movements and postures. Further, the contours of space derive from the relationships of one dancer to another, and the use of space that surrounds the dancer (known as the kinesphere).
In the late 1960s Kealiinohomoku began to look analytically at silhouettes of dancers made by tracing their outlines precisely from photos. The original inspiration to do this came to her while she was preparing a presentation on dancing as nonverbal communication for the members of a linguistics seminar at Indiana University. She wanted to focus the visual attention of those primarily trained to listen to look at dancer shapes and not be distracted by non-space-shaping features such as colors of costumes or facial expressions. In order to create an environment for that focus, Kealiinohomoku traced the outlines of photographs of several dancers on paper, filled in the outlines to create impressions of solid bodies, and then projected the silhouettes onto a screen with an opaque projector. The silhouettes immediately communicated information to the members of the seminar, and Kealiinohomoku adopted this technique as a new method to record the encoded distinguishing features of contoured space.
To prepare the silhouettes Kealiinohomoku established a protocol. She traced photographs of dancers with care to include even the smallest visible details that were revealed in a silhouette, and avoided any extraneous marks. The silhouette had to be an exact replica of the actual shapes caught by the camera in order for the renderings to be valid analytical tools. The first silhouette rendered was of a male Spanish dancer. Kealiinohomoku was startled to see how easily the shape could be "read" without help from the features that are usually thought to be essential for identifying a dance genre or specific dancer. After all, a silhouette does not include color, sound, or movement. But in fact, the abstraction of the dancing figure to a two dimensional silhouette reveals distinguishing features in more clear relief without "noisy" distractions. A quick glance at the silhouette registered that the figure was a male performing a Spanish dance and that the dancer was Jose Greco.
For several years Kealiinohomoku rendered hundreds of silhouettes from photos. She needed tools to discover what caused encoded information and why observers were able to decode them. She developed a mass/symmetry guide in which horizontal and vertical characteristics are noted and the configurations proved to be culturally predictable. She indexed 29 "conditioners" that are expressed as diagnostic features encoded within a silhouette. They include gender, phenotype, and other biological features as well as cultural criteria. And finally, she developed a Diagnostic Features Profile to analyze and collate data from the above two instruments from which decoding can occur.
In 1969 Kealiinohomoku made a presentation of the silhouette project for the Annual Meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology (at which time Juana de Laban declared that this was one of the most useful and innovative developments in dance analysis since her father, Rudolf von Laban, developed his movement notation systems, such as Kinetography Laban). Also in 1969 Kealiinohomoku presented the project at the University of Louisville. By the mid 1970s she presented the project to the Northern Arizona University summer linguistics seminar and the School of American Research in Santa Fe, in 1981 at the East-West Center in Honolulu, and throughout the years to her anthropology students as a teaching aid. In order to distinguish the figures from artistic creative drawings of a silhouette, and to indicate that these research silhouettes are rendered from photographs, Kealiinohomoku coined the word "Silhougraph®".
In Silhougraphs® subtle details become clear as well as large overall patterns. Dr. Cynthia Knox rendered Silhougraphs® as a technique for her M.A. study. She used them to show the "before" and "after" of individuals engaged in formal movement training. Not only did the changes appear in the Silhougraphs®, it was clear that Silhougraphs® are potentially useful as diagnostic tools for individuals in, say, physical therapy.
Some graduate students at Texas Woman's University showed how Silhougraphs® reveal changes of body styles, postures, and costumes of the same dance work over time. Other students compared the Silhougraphs® of real people with graphic representations - art works and advertisements. Others have shown how the diagnostic features of Silhougraphs® act as classifiers for various categories - cultures, gender, genre, and so forth. Two of us asked why the eye is able to glean so much information from a silhouette (see below Silhougraphic Visions). In fact, the possibilities for applying the Silhougraph® idea seem to be varied and numerous.
The special revelation to Kealiinohomoku was confirmation that dancers truly dance their phenotypes, costumes, and paraphernalia. She had never been satisfied that dance/movement notation systems reveal what is actually happening with and to real human dancers. Although accepted notation systems compare and store movement information, they do not reveal the corporeality of bodies, nor the cultural features of shaped spaces. In other words, accepted codified notation systems concentrate on movement as though the dancers were disembodied, and further, the implication is that all human bodies are indistinguishable from one another. Notation systems do not readily reveal the three-dimensionality of bodies that are identifiable by their biological make up, that are culturally informed, and that use movement and space shaping devices. The use of space demonstrated by Silhougraphs® significantly augments movement notation systems by bringing embodied elements into the equation.
Kealiinohomoku did not discuss Silhougraphs® in her dissertation, Theory and Methods for an Anthropological Study of Dance, because she wanted the dissertation to provide theoretical frames of reference for analyzing dance cultures, to be the cornerstone for future studies that would later include the study of Silhougraphs®. The potential use of the Silhougraph® is so rich that to introduce it, or so it seemed to Kealiinohomoku, would take the focus away from the basic ideas that she needed initially to articulate in her dissertation.
Every parent who has received a silhouette drawing of their child's profile as a Christmas present knows that the child's profile is distinct and recognizable. This individuality is likewise true of the entire body in motion. And because Silhougraphs® are rendered from photographs taken of dancers in motion the product is not static; it is action caught in a frame. Silhougraphs® reveal with startling clarity the identity of the individual dancer, as demonstrated by the informal note cards produced by Cross-Cultural Dance Resources. The Silhougraphs® on the six cards show that the figures are female, that they are western dance artists, and especially, they show individual identity. If you know the persons you immediately recognize Halla K. Kealiinohomoku, Eleanor King, Gertrude P. Kurath, Jancy Limpert, Helen Pelton, and Savannah Walling. Those Silhougraphs® are reproduced on this page. Silhougraphs® from various dance cultures are also included on this page for you to examine. What can you tell about these dancers and their cultures?
S.T. Duncan (Department of Anthropology/Sociology, Florida International University), Joann W. Keali'inohomoku (Cross-Cultural Dance Resources)
The phylogeny of hominid vision suggests a strong basis for the establishment of 'Silhougraphic vision', a culturally based contour classification of phenomena whose origins may lie in early mammal evolution and nocturnal habituation. The holographic paradigm of the brain is explored (Pribram, 1971) through processes which suggest a three-dimensional regeneration of 2-dimensional optic signaling (Abu-Mostafa and Psaltis, 1987). The incoherent optical neuron model of the visual cortex is also applied (Wang, Jenkins and Wang, 1993), whose simple cells perform the operations of edge detection and orientation selection. By transforming a photograph into a silhouette (referred to henceforth as a 'Silhougraph®') Keali'inohomoku has developed an innovative method for revealing, illustrating and analyzing human bodies' individual and cultural use of space. The results are startling. Without the distinctive features of dance -- movement, colour, sound -- the identity of the dances and dancers are still immediately evident. Written notation systems have been developed to record human movements. Two of these, Labanotation and Benesh (Hutchinson 1954, Benesh and Benesh 1956), are exceedingly accurate for purposes of notating, comparing and storing human movement patterns. However, they do not reveal the cultural values of shaped spaces nor the corporeality of bodies; they record disembodied movements. In contrast, Silhougraphs® reveal a three-dimensionality of bodies that are culturally informed, whose spatial shaping reveal distinctive age, gender and genetic heritage. This residual amplification of information suggests a regenerative holographic imprint. Memory, learning and visual processes of pattern recognition are explored through the holographic model and Keali'inohomoku's Silhougraphic theory is applied as both a contemporary and evolutionary cognitive conditioner. Theories placing the development of the early mammalian visual cortex in the context of a nocturnal, shape dependent environment are also addressed. Further research is suggested to support Silhougraphs® as powerful cultural markers, as contour images which carry vast amounts of three-dimensional information.
Kealiinohomoku, Joann W.
1976. Theory and methods for an anthropological study of dance (Ph.D. dissertation). Bloomington, Indiana: University of Indiana.
1979. "You dance what you wear and you wear your cultural values." J.M. Cordwell, R.A. Schwarz (editors), The fabrics of culture:77–83. World Anthropology Series. The Hague: Mouton.
1985. "Hula space and Its transmutations." Betty True Jones (editor). Dance research annual 16. Dance as cultural heritage 2: 11–21. New York: Congress on Research in Dance.
1989. "Introduction to Silhougraphs®." CCDR Newsletter 8:1-2. Flagstaff, Arizona: Cross-Cultural Dance Resources.
1990. "Native Indian dances." Un Siecle Danse Aux Etats-Unis. Lyon, France: La Ville de Lyon.
Knox, Cynthia Gail.
1984. Dance at the interface of biology and culture (M.A. thesis). Flagstaff, Arizona: Northern Arizona University.
Silhougraphs® Image Gallery
Album of high resolution scans coming soon!