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Dance Heritage Coalition

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Table of Contents Subject Terms

Lester Horton Dance Theater Collection



The Lester Horton Dance Theater Collection is a collection of multi-format materials documenting the work of dancer-teacher-choreographer Lester Horton as well as the workings of a modern dance company in California. The Collection consists of correspondence, writings, publicity and production materials, programs, costume and set designs, teaching materials, music, photographs, business papers, scrapbooks, drawings, publications, and audiovisual materials. The Collection spans the years 1926 to 1996, with the bulk of the materials dated from the 1940s through the 1950s. Since Horton's private life was intertwined with his professional one, the Collection includes information on both.

The Collection provides a record of Horton's creative output as a modern dance pioneer and of the workings of an early, struggling modern dance company and school. The materials in the collection document his creative process in areas such as dance technique, dance training, and performance production. It also provides evidence of the day-to-day administration of the theater, school, and company, as well as Horton's personal and professional relationships.

Many items in the Collection were not labeled or dated at the time of their creation. Other items were lost over time or are otherwise not part of this collection. Horton's creative process also affected the documentation and resulting record in the Collection. He often reworked a dance piece, altering aspects such as the costuming, music, and choreography. For some programs he created "suites" that included a number of individual dances. At times he would use the "same" piece (title) in different suites; at other times he worked on a piece intended for a suite that did not appear in the final, performed version.

Therefore, every effort has been made to link individual items with the appropriate dance work and/or suite, in all pertinent series and sub-series such as costume and set designs, photographs, and music. Knowledge of his repertory and style and other research led to many of the identifications listed. Cases where identifications were uncertain are indicated with a question mark. All performance works are listed with the suite title first.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Table of Contents Subject Terms