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Boston Conservatory Dance Department collection, 1944-2018

Identifier: BCB-009

Scope and Contents

The Boston Conservatory Dance Department records provide information about department operations, personnel, finances, curriculum, performances, and other activities from its establishment in the 1940s through 2018. The collection contains administrative files, course files, personnel files, financial records, performance programs and production records, newspaper clippings, posters and promotional material, audiovisual recordings, photographs, and instruments.


  • Creation: 1944-2016

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research by appointment, however some series are restricted to the department of orgin; see series description for more information. Advance notice is required for access because materials are stored offsite.

Administrative History

Dance instruction had been offered at the Boston Conservatory in the 1930s but there was no formal intention to create a department at that time. In September of 1943, following a fire at Jan Veen’s studio on Huntington Avenue, then-president Albert Alphin approached Veen about incorporating his dance studio with the Boston Conservatory of Music, eventually developing a degree program and establishing this entity as the Boston Dance Theater (BDT). The BDT, a separate corporation, faltered after the first few years but was reformed in 1951 and existed until 1965, when the program was fully absorbed as one of the three major departments at the Conservatory.

Veen acted as director of the Conservatory's dance program from 1943 to his death in 1967. Following his death, Ruth Sandholm Ambrose directed the department from 1967 to 1989, and was succeeded by Yasuko "Yasi" Tokunaga. Yasi lad the department until her retirement 2010, after which Cathy Young chaired the Dance Department until 2017, following the Conservatory's merger with Berklee College of Music, at which time she became the Executive Director of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.


43 boxes

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged into ten series: Administrative Files, Financial Records, Special Programs and Trips, Faculty/Staff files, Curriculum, Boston Conservatory Dance Theater, Photographs, Audiovisual Recordings, Instruments and Costumes, and Event Files.

Series 1, Administrative Files: This series consists of organizational records such as department profile and policy documents, meeting records, reports, planning and strategic vision documents, and correspondence. Material in this series primarily dates from the 1990s through the 2010s and has been maintained in its original order.

Series 2, Financial Records: This series contains primarily department budget and scholarship records, as well as documentation pertaining to copyright and rental agreements. The majority of this series dates from the 1990s and 2000s and has been maintained in its original order.

Series 3, Special Programs and Trips: This series contains records related to special outreach and summer dance programs as well as international trips, primarily in the 1970s and 80s. Materials include correspondence, programs, catalogs, schedules, and financial records. This series has been maintained in original order.

Series 4, Faculty/Staff files: This series primarily contains personnel files for Dance Department faculty and staff, as well as meeting records, correspondence, and headshots. Personnel files are arranged alphabetically by last name and primarily date from the 1970s through the 2000s.

Series 5, Curriculum: This series contains materials related to the department’s curricular development from the 1960s through the 2000s, including course objectives and syllabi, academic calendars, and other curricular material. This series has been maintained in its original order.

Series 6, Boston Conservatory Dance Theater: This series comprises promotional materials, correspondence, clippings for the Boston Conservatory Dance Theater (BCDT), as well as some production records. This series has been maintained in its original order. For BCDT programs and additional production records, see Series 10: Event Files.

Series 7, Photographs: This series comprises photographs compiled and arranged by Dance Department administrators. Photographs primarily document mainstage performances and rehearsals, as well as some classroom instruction, from the 1940s through 2010. This series has been maintained in original order.

Series 8, Audiovisual Recordings: This series contains assorted performance recordings on audio reel, UMatic, Betamax, VHS, and DVD. This series is currently arranged by format.

Series 9, Instruments and Costumes: This series primarily percussion instruments used in classroom teaching and performances, rooted in the teaching styles of Jan Veen and Katrine Amory Hooper. This series also includes a pair of ballet flats that likely belonged to a member of the department leadership. These items are not dated and have not been arranged.

Series 10: Events Files: This series comprises Dance Department production records, programs, and clippings for performances, commencement ceremonies, galas, and other events from the 1940s through 2011, including a large volume of BCDT-related event files.. This series is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

Material was largely collected and housed by administration and staff of the Dance Department, primarily from the various chairs or department heads. Materials received in 2019 had been maintained by the department's administrative assistant.

Acquisition History

Transferred to the Conservatory Archives in 2010 at the time of Dance Division director Yasi Tokunaga's retirement.


An additional accession of approximately 9 cubic feet was received in 2019 comprising primarily event records, photographs, faculty files, and administrative files.

Related Materials

For collections pertaining to individual Dance Department directors, faculty, and staff, please see:

BCB-017: Jan Veen collection

BCA-018: Kathrine Amory Hooper collection

BCA-019: Ruth Ambrose collection

BCB-020: Yasuko Tokunaga collection

BCB-021: Julie Ince Thompson collection

BCB-022: Faith Clark collection

Separated Materials

Series for Jan Veen, Kathrine Amory Hooper, Ruth Ambrose, Yasi Tokunaga, Julie Ince Thompson, and Faith Clark were intellectually reassigned as discrete collections in 2021. (See Collections BCB-013 through BCB-016.)

Processing Information

Processed by Brendan Higgins, Archivist. August 2015-April 2016.

2019 accrual processed by Rachael Rhodes (Archives Assistant) with Ashley Gray (Processing Archivist), 2020.

In 2021, series pertaining to individual faculty and staff members were reassigned as discrete collections (BCB-017 through BCB-012).

Finding aid prepared for ArchivesSpace by Ashley Gray and Thomas Wandborg (Archives Assistant), December 2021.

Boston Conservatory Dance Department collection, 1944-2018
Under Revision
Brendan Higgins; prepared for ArchivesSpace by Ashley Gray and Thomas Wandborg, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Berklee Archives Repository

Berklee College of Music
1140 Boylston St
Boston MA 02215 USA