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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dance Resources

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


Welcome to the Music & Performing Arts Library (MPAL) guide to dance resources! If you are interested in browsing the print collection of dance materials at MPAL, check out the tips for exploring the collection below. The rest of this guide provides more specific recommendations to help you direct your research.

Use the tabs to the left to navigate the guide and don't hesitate to reach out to a librarian if you can't find what you need!

Tips for Exploring the Collection

Browsing the shelves for materials related to your topic can be a great way to identify items that may be useful to you! If you find one or two items in the catalog that seem promising, look on the shelves at the items surrounding them.

If you want to read more about call numbers and how to decipher them, check our guide to Classification Systems. If you're not sure where to go in the Library to browse one of these call number ranges, please ask us at the service desk and we'll be happy to point you in the right direction or walk you to the shelves! 

For search suggestions to browse the catalog, check out the next tab of this box!

Suggested Call Numbers

  • 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

Search by Subject

Each item in the library catalog is assigned one or more subject headings to tell you what it is about. You can search by subject heading using the catalog's Advanced Search feature. 

To search by subject in the catalog:

  • Open the library catalog and click on "Advanced Search" to the right of the search bar
  • Underneath "Search filters", you'll see that the default is set to "Any Field"
  • Click on the arrow next to "Any Field" and select "Subject" from the drop-down menu
  • Try a search with one of the subject headings recommended below
  • Once you've found a relevant book in the catalog, you can also use the subjects listed in the record to find additional related materials

Recommended Subject Headings

  • 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 for people with disabilities, 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

Or add modifiers if you are researching specific aspects of identity in dance like gender or ability/disability:

  • Dancers with disabilities
  • Dance and race
  • Gender identity in dance

Related Guides

For a full list of library guides focusing on dance, consult the list of dance subject guides!

There are a few other general guides we suggest checking out that may help you as you conduct your research.