Siobhan Davies RePlay

Sarah Whatley, Ross Varney, David Bennett

    Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchWeb publication/site

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    The Siobhan Davies digital archive (Siobhan Davies RePlay) is Europe's first digital archive of dance. The archive launched in 2009 and includes a comprehensive range of audio-visual content, text-based materials and content never before seen in the public domain. Uniquely it offers users digital representations of the dance making process and tools to collect and organise searches for research, teaching and general interest.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    Bibliographical note

    Author's note: As the first digital archive of a dance collection of this kind and on this scale in Europe, and possibly the world, it has developed new understandings of the process of digitising, curating and designing online collections of ephemeral and intangible cultural heritage, and in particular dance. By drawing together a body of work that spans the entire development of contemporary dance in the UK it provides a unique opportunity to access material which has hitherto been unavailable for viewing. Through its design, breadth of content and inclusion of a number of online tools for search and discovery, it provides users with new insights, new interpretations and understandings of dance and access to the important connections between dance and the other cultural industries. The archive has led to other digital dance projects and has been an important reference point for other digital projects (e.g., the Digital Dance Archives, UK; Routledge digital performance archive, UK; the Walker Art Gallery digital archive, USA). It has been the subject of discussion within scholarly articles, reviews and a wide range of blog sites and is a key resource for students at all levels. It is a point of reference for funding bodies such as the Arts Council of England, who cite the archive as an example of a positive knowledge exchange and a model of how professional artists should be engaging with digital media to develop their work and build audience engagement. The archive required the identification, selection, description, analysis and organisation of a significant range of video, text and audio content, together with the development of a bespoke metadata schema, and an interface that would reflect and represent the particular aesthetic of the artist, whilst provide clear search functionality and navigation pathways to accommodate a wide range of users. It also required the development of a robust methodology for obtaining licenses, and to manage the complex process of copyright and intellectual property in relation to the archival content; and a careful balance between designing and creating a novel art object, and building a robust and sustainable archival architecture.
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
    4.0 International License
    Related publications: Sara Whatley has written numerous articles and presentations on the archive, including: • Whatley, S. and Jordan, S. (2011) ‘ Siobhan Davies’ in Bremser, M. and Saunders, L. (eds) 50 Contemporary choreographers: London, Routledge.
    • Whatley, S. and Varney, R. (2010) ‘Siobhan Davies Dance Online: The Digital Archive and Documenting the Dance Making Process’, in Leclercq, N,’ Rossion, L. and Jones, A. (eds) Capturing the Essence of Performance; Brussels, Peter Lang.
    • Whatley, S. (2010) ‘Archiving the Dance: Dancing the Archive’ in Primavesi, P and J Schulze (eds) Archiving Practice, Leipzig.
    • Whatley, S. and Varney, R. (2009) ‘Born Digital: Dance in the Digital Age’; International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, Intellect.
    • Whatley, S. ( 2008) ‘Archives of the Dance: Siobhan Davies Dance Online’ in Dance Research; Vol. 26.2 Winter pp244-257
    • Whatley, S. and Varney, R. (2008) ‘Digitizing Siobhan Davies Dance’; Body, Space and Technology Journal

    • 2012 ‘What is the future of a dance archive?; Siobhan Davies RePlay’, Symposium on new ideas for dance archives, LAB021, International Choreographic Arts Centre Amsterdam - (invited speaker), Amsterdam, November.
    • 2012 ‘D-TRACES – evalution and impact’, JISC Content Programme – (invited speaker), London (July).
    • 2012 ‘Siobhan Davies RePlay’ – National Library of Wales symposium on Brith Gof archives, Aberystwyth (May) – invited speaker (May) – invited speaker
    • 2012 ‘Recovering and reanimating ‘lost’ traces; the digital archiving of the rehearsal process
    in Siobhan Davies RePlay’ British Dance Institutions: Past, Present and Future, University of Roehampton, London (May)
    The archive has been featured in several press articles, media events and scholarly articles. These include:
    • Nov 2010, an interview with Siobhan Davies including commentary on the archive (
    • March 3 2010, an article that references the archive in The Wire (The Wire: Adventures in Modern Music: Article)

    • May 18 2010, an article in the Guardian by Sanjoy Roy. The article included a link to a previous article about Siobhan Davies (published 24 March 2009) which included a link to information on the Company website about the development of the archive.

    • October 2 2009, an article in the Guardian by Sanjoy Roy which refers to the archive.

    • July 24 2009, an article in TimeOut; ‘Best Dance Clips on the Web’ and also online:


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