Jan Alm

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jay Anderson, Camilla Collins, John Forbes

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Folklife scholars often produce work which is valuable to outdoor museums and historic sites. Folklife scholars deal with functional, contextual, emic, and interdisciplinary studies--all approaches which produce valuable interpretive data for museums and sites. This thesis is an example of folklife work designed for use in the museum field.

Outdoor museums and historic sites are increasingly involved with the interpretation of social and emotional life. Because it is a social and emotional event, dance can be a valuable part of this interpretation.

Sites and museums developing programs of traditional dance interpretation may find it helpful to follow several steps: 1.) determine through research that dance did occur at the site and time period portrayed; 2.) identify the interpretive themes and objectives dance can fulfill; 3.) gather as much information about the site's dance traditions as possible through research employing a wide variety of sources; 4.) learn to perform the dances, identify their interpretive significance, and incorporate them in interpretive programs.

The text includes both descriptions and examples of a wide variety of research sources--primary, secondary, iconographic, material culture, and others. Also included is a checklist of aspects of dance events any or all of which staff members may wish to research and interpret. The closing "Sources and Resources" section is an annotated guide to books, periodicals, organizations, and other sources of assistance in dance interpretation.


Anthropology | Arts and Humanities | Dance | Folklore | History | Museum Studies | Performance Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social History | Theatre and Performance Studies