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Dance scholar’s donation gives collection a home at ASU


May 14, 2008

The Cross-Cultural Dance Resources Collection (CCDR) has found a new home in ASU Herberger College Dance from the extraordinary generosity and vision of Elsie Dunin, a leading international dance scholar.

The collection, which is internationally recognized as the most comprehensive dance resource center in the Southwest, comprises more than 15,000 books, letters, costumes, films and 75 indigenous instruments representing dance cultures worldwide.

According to Pegge Vissicaro, president of CCDR and associate chair at ASU Herberger College Dance, this significant acquisition is not coincidental: Dunin’s decision to give $1.15 million to endow a curator and provide funding for the maintenance of the CCDR collection embodies a special and meaningful convergence of time and place. This convergence honors the special importance of dance to Arizona’s native and immigrant populations.

Vissicaro says Dunin specifically wanted the CCDR collection, which currently is in Flagstaff, moved to ASU’s Tempe campus.

“I feel strongly that the best place for the collection is within Herberger College Dance because of its commitment to teaching students the importance of studying dance in the context of cross-cultural influences,” Dunin says. “The collection will better serve the greater population of the Southwest through the Herberger College and its dance program, which is being spearheaded by enlightened leadership and vision. The department’s development of advanced studies in dance reflects the importance of studying dance not only as a performance and contemporary art, but also with an understanding of dance movement in cultural contexts.

“In addition, the collection will attract national and international dance scholars who, through their contacts and exposure to the department, will in turn benefit the students. Just as studies of law, medicine, and architecture are already well-served in academia with their libraries and archives, the CCDR collection will provide a unique body of knowledge for dance within the midst of a thriving dance program.”

Simon Dove, chair of ASU Herberger College Dance, shares Dunin’s vision of exploring resources and expanding awareness about the connection between cultural influences and contemporary dance forms.

“Ms. Dunin’s remarkable gift, and her visionary decision to house the CCDR collection at ASU permanently, will benefit all students and scholars of dance by bringing the collection to an academic environment that encourages research and creativity,” Dove says. “In this time and place, enlightened and generous investment in future generations of dance artists will enable us to achieve our goal of nurturing a truly global perspective on this extraordinary art form.”