As a choreographer or performer, you know that dance is a particularly ephemeral art form, created upon a human body and presented for a moment to an audience. Documentation is complex but necessary for work to survive. There are archives in place once you have managed to document your work. As with all artists, you need someone you trust, knowledgeable about dance, to care specifically for your art.
ArchivesPerhaps the most extensive repository for scores, film, video and audio tapes, clipping files, prints, photographs, posters, manuscripts, memorabilia and all types of notation related to dance is the Dance Collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The Dance Collection also produces oral histories for people with AIDS in the dance world. This oral history program also has a counterpart in San Francisco called the Legacy Project.
Wherever you live, you can either deposit your materials in the Dance Collection or ask the curator if there is a similar archive in your area. For example, on the west coast, the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum. Archive staffs are usually willing to help advise you even if your materials aren't appropriate for their collection.
NotationIn addition to film and video, another important form of documentation is notation. The primary form of notation is Labanotation, which records each movement of the dance in a written score. The Dance Notation Bureau in New York, a leader in the field, notates dance internationally and maintains an archive of scores which can be accurately reconstructed.