Let’s Dance: NYPL for the Performing Arts

My favorite library in NYC is the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, no contest. I was there today picking up an obscure dance book for some summer reading (fun, right?), and was reminded of just how great this place is. Not only does it have the most extensive library of dance books, periodicals, photos, and videos, but it also celebrates the arts in an important way. This library is not your standard collection of resources – it contains information on all types of performance art, and also has installations and events to celebrate the artists found within the vast collections of books and other resources in this library.

When you enter from the Lincoln Center Plaza entrance (which is almost completely done with construction, and looks GORGEOUS, by the way), straight ahead you will see a room that is home to changing displays. I have seen a display of Cunningham costumes, a musical celebration, and many other exhibits here. Currently, it is under construction, but it’s always worth poking a head in to see what is being showcased – you might learn something, and there will certainly be something to look at or listen to.

If you enter from the Amsterdam Avenue entrance across from La Guardia High School, you’ll walk in and see another small exhibition center to your right and a theater to your left. Two years ago, one of my teachers curated an event on the Dance Theatre of Harlem. In the room to the right we got to see video of past performances, examples of costumes and documents, and posters of the dancers both past and present. As part of this exhibit, I also attended a panel discussion in the auditorium across the hall and got to listen to Arthur Mitchell, one of the creators of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, talk about his experience in the dance world. Obviously, the exhibit has since changed – they change every couple of weeks, and the latest exhibits can be found here.

As if these exhibits weren’t enough, there are also performances constantly happening at this library. Weekly concerts, movie showings, and speakers are all common events. And in addition to these being educational and truly well-done events – they’re FREE!! I’ve always loved libraries, but one complete with performances and exhibits really takes the cake.

So head over to the Performance Arts library, located at 40 Lincoln Plaza (65th Street, by Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues) and check out the exhibits, performances, and books. And if there’s no upcoming events that pique your interest? Consider going into the research archives and watching a historic performance. I’ve spent entire days there watching their footage of William Forsythe‘s choreography – it’s not the same as seeing it live, but at least it’s free and accessible!

-Meghan Q

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