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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dance Resources

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


This guide collects resources to support students conducting research in dance! 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.

  • If you are just starting out, the Reference & Background Information and Dance in Interdisciplinary Contexts are great places to begin. Those pages collect resource recommendations that will provide general context so you can decide what specific topics you want to research further.
  • We have also included two more targeted pages focusing on choreography and kinesiology resources at the library.
  • If you have already done your background research and you are looking for scholarly articles, we've included database recommendations for dance and information on how to plan an effective search strategy on the Finding Scholarly Articles pages.

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

At MPAL, our collection includes books with call numbers from both Dewey Decimal Classification and Library of Congress Classification. We've included a list below of call number ranges for dance to help you browse the shelves in the library. If you want to read more about call numbers and how to decipher them, 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 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

Here are some dance subject headings you can try as you search for materials in the catalog:

  • 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.

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.