Mapping Movement on the Move: Dance Touring and Digital Methods

Elswit, Kate and Bench, Harmony (2016) Mapping Movement on the Move: Dance Touring and Digital Methods. Theatre Journal, 68 (4). pp. 575-596. ISSN 0192-2882


A better understanding of the transnational networks of dance touring is critical to placing dance within larger theatrical and cultural systems. This essay demonstrates how digital research methods can work in tandem with more traditional scholarly methods to manage the scale and complexity of data truly necessary to account for what we call “movement on the move.” Drawing on the authors’ research on dance touring—namely, South American tours by Anna Pavlova’s company during World War I and the American Ballet Caravan during World War II—the essay focuses on the database and the map as tools that expand the capacity to trace “dynamic spatial histories of movement.” It argues that larger questions of mobility, transportation, infrastructure, and cultural transmission are central to studying dance touring, and that digital methods of research and representation can greatly assist scholars in the comparative analysis and interpretation of this phenomenon. Considered are debates in dance, theatre, digital humanities, geography, and cultural studies to advocate for the use of digital methods in dance history research.


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