Papers of De Ama Battle, 1970-2015
Curricula, letters, flyers, programs, brochures, posters, awards, certificates, invitations, newsletters, clippings, photographs, and videos of dancer and educator De Ama Battle and her Massachusetts-based nonprofit arts education organization, the Art of Black Dance and Music.
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by De Ama Battle and by the Art of Black Dance & Music, Inc., is held by De Ama Battle. Upon her death, copyright transfers to Michael Anthony Battle. Upon his death, copyright transfers to the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent1.5 linear feet ((3 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio+ folder, 1 photograph folder, 11 DVDs, 14 motion pictures)
The papers of De Ama Battle include curricula, letters, flyers, programs, brochures, posters, awards, certificates, invitations, newsletters, clippings, photographs, and videos relating to De Ama Battle and Art of Black Dance and Music. The collection documents the educational programs, curricula, performances, and achievements of Art of Black Dance and Music, an influential non-profit dance organization based in Somerville, Massachusetts, dedicated to promoting cultural understanding and awareness through African-rooted music, dance, and folklore. These materials are valuable to researchers interested in Boston dance community history; music, dance, and cultural education; and African dance in general. There is little material related to the personal life of De Ama Battle.
The collection includes a representative sampling of videos from Battle's dance classes, performances, and field research trips to Africa and the Caribbean where she documented dance and culture between the 1980s and early 2000s. Battle took an ethnographic approach to filming and sought to capture dance performances in their cultural context. Her dance research is often accompanied with footage of community life, homes, or interviews. This research was incorporated into performances and teaching materials used by the Art of Black Dance and Music. These materials are valuable to researchers interested in dance studies, ethnographic footage of cultural practices in Africa, and African cultural history.
Folder titles are created by the archivist. This collection is arranged alphabetically. DVDs are arranged chronologically. Audiovisual motion pictures are arranged sequentially by unit number.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.
Born Dolores Haynes in 1938 to Madge Louise and James Theodore Haynes in Cambridge, Massachusetts, De Ama Battle was introduced to dance at a young age. At age four she moved to Somerville, Massachusetts, with her family where she studied a hybrid of ballet and jazz dance at the Ethel Covan School of Performing Arts. In her late teens Battle specialized in African dance.
In 1960 she married Edward Battle and had one son, Michael Battle. While working at the Polaroid Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts (1962-1972), Battle began to seek venues to teach and present African-rooted arts in the Boston area. In 1973 she was appointed to the faculty of Tufts University where she taught jazz, tap, African, and Caribbean techniques.
In 1975, Battle founded Art of Black Dance and Music, the only minority woman-owned nonprofit arts education organization in New England. The mission of Art of Black Dance and Music was to preserve African-rooted heritage through research, instruction, and performance. Teachers in the dance company came from many countries in the African diaspora and included Senegalese drum master Ibrahima Camara and dancer Nitanju Bolade Casel (who was also a singer in Sweet Honey in the Rock). After receiving an MA in Education from Cambridge College in 1984, Battle shifted the focus of Art of Black Dance and Music towards arts education in schools.
The company performed at festivals across the United States, organized and led study tours abroad, and offered workshops and classes to students at all levels. Art of Black Dance and Music received many honors including the 1995 Commonwealth Award, the state of Massachusetts's highest award for outstanding contributions in the arts, humanities, and sciences.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Battle studied and documented dance in a variety of countries including Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Suriname, Brazil, Jamaica, and Cuba. She filmed formal and informal dancing, incorporating her research into her curricula and teaching in Boston-area schools such as Wellesley College, Simmons College, Radcliffe College, and Boston Conservatory. In 2006, Battle received the Boston Dance Alliance Lifetime Achievement award.
Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 2010-M104, 2010-M184
The papers of De Ama Battle were given to the Schlesinger Library by De Ama Battle in May and October 2010.
Processed: January 2018
By: Jehan Sinclair with assistance from Margaret Dalton.
- African American dance teachers
- African American dance--Study and teaching
- African American women
- African diaspora
- College teachers--United States
- Dance companies--Massachusetts
- Dance in education--Massachusetts
- Dance--Africa, West
- Folk dancing---Africa, West
- Motion pictures
- Nonprofit organizations--Massachusetts
- Rites and ceremonies--Africa, West
- Battle, De Ama. Papers of De Ama Battle, 1970-2015: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.
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