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Steinberg (Stephen Cobbett) Papers



Stephen Cobbett Steinberg was born in 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Emanuel and Virginia Steinberg. He attended Temple University and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English and American Literature. In 1970, he moved to San Francisco to attend graduate school at Stanford University. Along with winning research fellowships from Stanford's Department of English between 1971 and 1976, Steinberg also passed his Ph.D exam with honors in 1974. He taught courses in creative writing, introductory literature, advanced literature, and twentieth century aesthetics while at Stanford.

Steinberg began editing and writing for entertainment journals and books in 1976. He served as an arts editor for the San Francisco Sentinel from 1976-80 and as an associate editor for the San Francisco Review of Books from 1978-80. In 1978, he compiled and published Reel Facts, a collection of statistical data, essays, and lists on the history of the American film industry. He followed this book with the publication of two other reference works, The Dance Anthology and T.V. Facts, in 1980. Steinberg also composed librettos for two ballets performed by the Pacific Ballet, Angel Fire and Buddy's Song.

During the 1980s, Steinberg commenced several collaborative projects on dance with KQED-TV, the American Ballet Theatre, the San Francisco Ballet, and other arts groups. He wrote scripts for seven T.V. documentaries on dance companies and performers, including Lew Christensen: The Triumph of American Dance (1983) and Nijinska: A Legend in Dance (1989). In 1983, Steinberg was invited to write the script for San Francisco Ballet's 50th Anniversary Gala. As a result of his efforts, he was asked to write and co-produce five mini-documentaries on the history of American Ballet Theatre for its 50th Anniversary Gala in 1990. Many other organizations utilized Steinberg's writing talents for commemorative publications, including the Hotel Tax Fund, the Ethnic Dance Festival, the Oakland Ballet, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Stern Grove Festival.

The 1980s also marked the beginning of Steinberg's collaboration with the Archives for the Performing Arts. Hired as a Program Coordinator in 1983, Steinberg oversaw the establishment of programs in publishing, exhibiting, and lecturing at the archives. Between 1984 and 1991, Steinberg curated twelve exhibitions of archival materials on topics ranging from Lew Christensen and Isadora Duncan to dance photojournalism and theater posters. Steinberg also helped to co-direct two highly acclaimed conferences in San Francisco for the Dance Critics Association, Why a Swan? (1988) and On the Edge: Challenges to American Dance (1989).

Along with these scholarly contributions, Steinberg also coordinated the preparation of funding proposals and of publicity campaigns for the archives. He drafted proposals for the establishment of a Dance Research Center and a Dance Video Library at the archives and prepared long-range plans which assisted the archives in its expansion and move to its current facility at 399 Grove St.

In addition to all of these activities, Steinberg served on the Board of Trustees of the Theater Rhinoceros and the Ellen Webb Dance Co. and as a member of the nominating panel for the Isadora Duncan Dance Awards. He also acted as a researcher for a Mellon Foundation study on dance documentation and served on an NEA Choreography Fellowships panel. Between 1976 and 1991, Steinberg contributed 200 reviews and essays to such journals as the San Francisco Ballet Magazine, Cineaste, San Francisco Review of Books, and Dance Magazine. Unfortunately, his contributions to dance scholarship and to the preservation of dance documentation ended at age forty-two. Steinberg died of complications from AIDS on August 21, 1991.

Administrative Information Table of Contents SCOPE AND CONTENT