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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dance Resources: Finding Books

A guide to aid students in conducting library research on dance-related topics.

Where to Search for Books

Tips for Exploring the Collection

At MPAL, our collection includes books with call numbers from both Dewey Decimal Classification and Library of Congress Classification. For more information about reading call numbers, check our guide to Classification Systems.

  • 792.7 - Variety shows and theatrical dancing
  • 792.8 - Ballet and modern
  • 793.3 - Social, folk, national
  • GT 500-2370 - Costume and fashion
  • GV 1588 - Philosophy and theory
  • GV 1589 - Study and teaching
  • GV 1590-1594 - General works
  • GV 1595 - Special aspects of the subject as a whole
  • GV 1597 - Dancing as a profession
  • GV 1600 - Dance criticism, appreciation
  • GV 1645-1795 - Dance history (and historical dance)
  • GV 1785 - Biographies
  • GV 1796-1799 - Special dances

Each item in the library catalog is assigned one or more subject heading to tell you what it is about. You can search by these terms as a Subject Search and also click on them when you find them to find similar items. Here are some suggestions for headings to try:

  • Choreography
  • Dance accompaniment music [recordings and scores for use in dance classes]
  • Dance: Can be used with other subject terms to specify needed terms. Includes anthropological aspects, biography, social aspects, study and teaching (e.g., Dance--Biography).
  • Types or styles of dance can be found by coupling the dance name with the term "dance" (e.g. Hip-hop danceDance--Ballet, Dance--Aerobic Dancing).
  • Dance types can also be found as singular terms (e.g., Ballroom Dancing, Ballet--History)
  • Dancers: Used to refer to specific traits of dancers (e.g. Dancers--wounds and injuries).
  • For information about dance for aging or handicapped, use "dance for the aged" or "dance for the handicapped."

You can also try headings that are related to particular time period, such as:

  • Baroque Dance
  • Performance practice (Music)--17th century
  • Performance practice (Music)--18th century
  • Dance--17th century
  • Dance--18th century.

You can also include geographic indicators such as:

  • Dance--Africa
  • Dance - United States - History.
  • Dance - Social aspects - United States.

Books at MPAL

Beginning a research project can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to searching for resources. In most disciplines, research guides serve to streamline the search process by collecting relevant information about sources and their locations, and dance is no exception. The books below each offer pathways to collecting sources you can find at the U of I and beyond. If you already know what topic you want to research, or you want to deepen your understanding of the topic, the other tabs in this box offer a variety of entry points.


Dance dictionaries, despite their name, often do more than just define terms. Many of them include citations, biographical sketches, and performance/reception histories.


These books are a sampling of the many interdisciplinary approaches in dance research today. They are especially useful for showing a broad range of perspectives at an intersection between different academic fields and dance.


These books offer a more technical, term-by-term approach to the wide ranging vocabulary of dance and dance research.