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Chicago Film Archives Acquires Ruth Page Dance Collection

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 27, 2011 6:40PM

2010_7_27chicagofilmarchive.jpg The Chicago Film Archives is probably known best for their creative and innovative screenings, but the acquisition and preservation of unique materials is really at the heart of they do. Many items in their collection have come to rest with CFA simply because they were too "weird" or esoteric to be taken seriously by other institutions; their home movies and amateur films are perfect examples. But CFA also has several important professional collections, including work by legendary filmmakers Chuck Olin, Don Klugman, and The Film Group.

In a glorious coup, they've now acquired the historic moving image collection of the Ruth Page Foundation. Born in 1899, Page was a dancer and choreographer who lived and worked in Chicago from mid-1920's onwards. In the course of her career she infused ballet choreography with uniquely American flavors, and the Ruth Page Center for the Arts continues her legacy. The collection now in the hands of CFA is comprised of nearly 900 16mm and 35mm films and videotapes, documenting performances, rehearsals and interviews from 1920 through the 1990's.

Other local institutions, such as the Newberry Library, include dance-related holdings. But as CFA acknowledges, "the story of Midwest dance history [is] a history that to date has enjoyed little recognition in the Chicago cultural scene." Perhaps now that we have a mayor with a certain background in the world of dance, things will be different? CFA is currently seeking funding to process the Ruth Page Collection for future exhibition.