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Guide to the Ruth Clark Lert Dance Library and Archive, 1831-1994
MS-P009  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Ruth Clark Lert Dance Library and Archive,
    Date (inclusive): 1831-1994
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1950-1980)
    Collection number: MS-P009
    Collector: Lert, Ruth Clark
    Extent: Number of containers: 65 document boxes, 3 shoe boxes, 8 record cartons, 10 flat boxes and 12 oversized folders

    Linear feet: 57
    Repository: University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
    Irvine, California 92623-9557
    Abstract: The Ruth Clark Lert Archive is a multimedia collection which documents dance history in the twentieth century, primarily in the United States. Formats in the collection include: audio recordings, video recordings, clippings, printed items, stamps, photographs, posters, catalogues, broadsides, teaching materials, and theses and dissertations. Ruth Clark Lert, a dance historian, critic and teacher, collected the materials over fifty years, and the collection reflects both her broad interest in dance and her special interests in dance therapy, movement for the handicapped, German dancers Harald Kreutzberg and Mary Wigman, world dance, and dance in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to publish or to reproduce, please contact the Head of Special Collections and University Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Ruth Clark Lert Dance Library and Archive. MS-P 9. Special Collections and Archives, The UCI Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Ruth Clark Lert in 1993.

    Processing History

    Fully processed by Laura Clark Brown with the assistance of Emma Kheradyar in 1997.

    Biography

    Ruth Clark Lert was born Ruth Sklarz in Berlin, Germany in 1915. Lert received a teacher's diploma in dance from the Steffi Nossen School of Dance in 1933, only three years before leaving Berlin for the United States. She resided in both New York City and Westchester, New York from 1936 to 1943. She continued to study dance under noted dancers and choreographers, including Merce Cunningham, Saida Gerrard, Lester Horton, Carlton Johnson, Juana de Laban, Bella Lewitzky, Eugene Loring, Murray Louis, Agnes de Mille, Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis and Virginia Tanner.
    Lert became a United States citizen in 1943. From 1943 to 1945, she worked for the State Department as a writer and editor for Voice of America. In 1944, she married Wolfgang Lert, son of novelist Vicki Baum and Hannover Opera conductor Richard Lert.
    Ruth Clark Lert began to collect dance literature and memorabilia as she pursued her own dance career as teacher, historian, critic, and photographer. She taught and lectured on dance, dance theory and dance therapy, in schools, summer camps, community groups, universities and dance schools in Holland and Switzerland.
    Lert moved to California (circa 1950) and became an active member of the West Coast dance community. She instructed pre-school children in the Los Angeles Headstart Program and was a movement specialist for hearing-impaired and other handicapped children in the Los Angeles Department of Special Education. She also edited Movement in the Classroom, published by the Office of Urban Affairs, Los Angeles.
    Lert became friends with Eugene Loring, and she taught at his American School of Dance for ten years. She taught at the University of Dayton in Ohio for the Adventures in Movement (AIM) program and lectured at various California universities, including the University of California, Irvine.
    Besides teaching and lecturing, Lert photographed dancers and contributed articles to major dance publications and special education textbooks, including Dance Magazine, Dance News, Educational Dance, and Focus on Dance. She also edited Vicki Baum's memoirs, It Was All Quite Different. In 1981, she showed many of her photographs in an exhibit titled "Dance in Los Angeles --Dancers at Work 1956-1971."

    Scope and Content

    The Ruth Clark Lert Archive is a multimedia collection which documents dance history in the twentieth century, primarily in the United States. Formats in the collection include: audio recordings, video recordings, clippings, printed items, stamps, photographs, posters, catalogues, broadsides, teaching materials, and theses and dissertations.
    Ruth Clark Lert, a dance historian, critic and teacher, collected the materials over fifty years, and the collection reflects both her broad interest in dance and her special interests in dance therapy, movement for the handicapped, German dancers Harald Kreutzberg and Mary Wigman, world dance, and dance in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
    The collection is essentially a collector's collection and not the personal papers of Ruth Clark Lert. One small group of materials (Series 23) does constitute a portion of her personal papers and includes her writings and some correspondence. Lert was the photographer of the still photographs in the collection, with the exception of the Bali photographs, and the teaching materials in Series 7 were also created by her. The collection reflects both her career and her lifelong interests in ballet, modern dance, world dance and physical therapy.
    The Lert portfolios (Series 1) determined the organization of the Archive into subject series. The portfolios retain their original order and thus their integrity as subject files created by Lert. She consciously produced these miniature collections, organizing her materials into 71 topical files she called portfolios. These files consist primarily of clippings, ephemera and other printed items on subjects as specific as Mary Wigman and German Expressionist Dance and as general as ballet. These portfolios provide overviews of dance-related topics during the time period in which Lert was collecting (ca. 1950-1990) and are listed in alphabetical order by the titles given by Lert.
    The remainder of the collection mirrors the portfolios in arrangement and is organized into 28 series. Series 2 through 22 are topical series identical or similar to Lert's portfolio topics. These subject series are arranged alphabetically by the topics' names such as Bay Area Dance and Government and the Arts. In conjunction with the portfolios, the topical series provide a broad view of American dance history (ca. 1900-1990) and particularly dance therapy and dance education (ca. 1950-1980). Approximately 100 posters (1952-1986) integrated throughout the collection illustrate dance in art, dance performances, dancers, companies, and dance supplies; many posters depict Bella Lewitzky, Nikolais Dance Theatre, Murray Louis Dance Company and San Francisco Ballet.
    Other series were based on format: Series 24 Audio Recordings (interviews and music), Series 25 Photographs (prints and negatives depicting dance taken by Lert, primarily in Los Angeles), Series 26 Programs (playbills and souvenir programs collected by Lert), and Series 27 Control Records (Lert's own catalogs to her materials). Internal arrangement within series is primarily chronological or alphabetical. Dates are indicated in parentheses when known.
    Other Lert materials have been separated from the archival collection. Ruth Clark Lert donated her dance library of monographs and serials to UCI Libraries, and these items are individually cataloged and available for research in Special Collections and the Libraries' circulating collection. Approximately 300 dance and theater programs relating primarily to American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, and Ballet Russe were separated from the archival collection and added to the department's Dance Programs Collection. Lert donated her research materials concerning Harald Kreutzberg to Akademie der Kuenste in Berlin.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Lert, Ruth Clark, 1915-1997--Archives.
    Wigman, Mary, 1886-1973--Archival resources.
    Dance--Archival resources.
    Dance--History--Archival resources.
    Modern dance--United States--Archival resources.
    Dance--Indonesia--Bali (Province)--Archival resources.
    Dance--California--San Francisco Bay Area--Archival resources.
    Dance in art--Archival resources.
    Dance in motion pictures, television, etc.--Archival resources.
    Dance costume--Archival resources.
    Dance notation--Archival resources.
    Dance therapy--Archival resources.
    Dance for people with disabilities--Archival reources.
    Choreographers--Biography--Archival resources.
    Dancers--Biography--Archival resources.
    Dance companies--United States--Archival resources.
    Dance schools--United States--Archival resources.
    Dance libraries--Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Dance programs.
    Sound recordings.
    Video recordings.
    Photographic prints.
    Playbills.
    Postage stamps.

    Occupations

    Dance critics.
    Dance teachers.
    Dancers.

    Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Online Archive of California.