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American Dance Festival records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-04C-02


Provenance for the American Dance Festival records belongs to the Connecticut College News Office and its antecedents, which were responsible until 1968 for school of the dance and festival publicity. This collection documents the activities of the dance school and festival during its mid-life (c. 1959-1968), and consists partially of college publications pertaining to the school of dance and the American Dance Festival and partly of the files of Margaret L. Thomson, Director of the News Office, 1963-1981.

The entire collection dates 1948-1977, but the bulk of the material – photos, news releases, newspaper clippings, and the correspondence of Margaret L. Thomson – dates 1962-1968. The School of Dance and ADF Bulletins of courses, festival programs, directories, and statistics span 1948-1977; these however, are not complete.

Photos include studio portraits of ADF dancers, ADF performance and rehearsal photos, and photos of dance faculty with their classes. Photographers include Robert L. Perry, Philip A. Biscuti, Fannie Helen Melcher, and Jack Mitchell.

Files on individual dancers contain information collected by the News Office pertaining to their careers.


  • 1937-1980
  • Majority of material found within 1962-1968


This collection is open for research.

About the American Dance Festival

The Connecticut College School of Dance and American Dance Festival, as they came to be called in 1959, originated at Bennington College. The Bennington School of Dance and Bennington Festival began in 1934 and continued until 1942, when hardships of World War II and other academic considerations prevented Bennington from continuing its sponsorship of the program.

After the war, Martha Hill, one of the founders of the Bennington program, investigated the possibility of establishing a summer dance school and festival at Connecticut College. From 1948-1951, New York University (NYU) and Connecticut College co-sponsored the festival at the college under the name of An American Dance Festival, and the dance school under the name of the New York-Connecticut College School of the Dance. NYU School of Education faculty and administrators remained on the school of dance Administrative Board and on the Festival Executive Committee until 1951 when NYU withdrew its co-sponsorship. Connecticut College continued its sponsorship for another 26 years. Between 1948 and 1968 the Connecticut College News Office and its antecedents - the Publicity Bureau, the Publicity Office, and the Office of Press Relations - were responsible for school of dance and festival publicity.

In 1949 an was dropped from the festival title; and in 1959 the name of the dance school was changed from Connecticut College School of the Dance to Connecticut College School of Dance.

In December 1968, Connecticut College President Charles E. Shain announced the merger of the school of dance and festival under the title The Connecticut College American Dance Festival (CCADF), uniting the Festival Committee and Advisory Board and creating a new administrative structure for the festival/school of dance.

In 1975, CCADF was incorporated in New York under the name of the American Dance Festival, Inc. (ADF) and granted non-profit independent entity. Dispute over the responsibility for operating costs of the ADF soon arose between Connecticut College President Oakes Ames and ADF Director Charles Reinhart, and in 1976, Reinhart began investigating relocating the festival. In 1978, having accepted an offer from Duke University, Reinhart moved the American Dance Festival to Durham, North Carolina, where it now resides.


Anderson,]ack. The American Dance Festival. Durham: Duke University Press, 1987.

Cohen-Stratynew, Barbara N. Biographical Dictionary of Dance. New York: Schimer Books, 1982.

McDonagh, Don. The Complete Guide to Modem Dance. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1976.


10 Cubic Feet (16 boxes)

4 Volumes

Language of Materials



This collection contains records pertaining to the American Dance Festival while it was held at Connecticut College from 1948-1977, primarily from the college's News Office, which handled publicity for the school and festival during the period 1962-1968. Materials in the collection include correspondence, photographs, press releases and newspaper clippings, school course listings and directories, brochures, programs, and posters.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred by the Connecticut College News Office, c.1986-1989.

Processed by

Catherine Phinizy, 1989; Nova Seals, 2012; Rebecca Parmer, 2014; Deborah Kloiber, 2020

Guide to the American Dance Festival records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives Repository

Connecticut College
270 Mohegan Ave
New London CT 06320 United States