Detroit Recreation Department Dance Program: Shirley Harbin Records

Accession Number: 
5 linear feet (4 SB, 1 OS)

The Detroit Recreation Department has had a long and storied history of mergers, re-naming, re-organizing, and re-structuring. Growing out of once separate Parks and Recreation Commissions, its history has long included a Recreation Division which administered a dance program as part of its Special Activities Unit. Shirley Harbin was hired in 1963 as a Senior Recreation Instructor in Drama, and by 1971, she was the Senior Recreation Instructor in Dramatics and Music. At the time Harbin was with the department, Eleanor Cattron was the Senior Recreation Instructor of Dance.

The Records encompass more than just Harbin's tenure. They capture Recreation Dancing in Detroit though the administration, performances, scripts and plans of the Dance Program, along with references to other dance studios and initiatives in the metro area including the Harbinger Dance Company, the Mme. Cadillac Dance Theatre, the Jewish Community Center, and the Detroit Metropolitan Dance Project. Of special research value is the large collection of original choreographed dances dating to 1924 that were performed by the students in classes and performances. The choreographed dances include ballet, tap, modern and folk dancing, often indicating the particular musical score to which the counts and measures have been assigned.

1912-1992, bulk 1940-1980
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