Archiving Fellowships Blog: Dancing Wheels, Part 2

By Hallie Oines

Hallie Oines is a 2022 Archiving and Preservation Fellow with Dancing Wheels Company & School. Read more about the Fellowships here. This is the second part of Hallie’s blog. Find the first part here.

November 1, 2022: Building Sustainable Groundwork

Prior to my Dance/USA Archiving Fellowship, my experience in archives included processing collections in the People’s Archives at the Washington D.C. Public Library. This processing consisted of working with a single collection from its initial intake to writing the finding aid (a descriptive index) and the creation of the collection’s metadata. This background resulted in a surprisingly difficult transition when I started working at Dancing Wheels. As their collection needed groundwork in many different areas, I decided it was best to spread my time and effort across multiple projects rather than ensuring the completion of just one. This decision meant that many projects were started and only one was completed (an NEH grant application). The rest will be left in the capable hands of the Dancing Wheels staff to continue.

Two dancers in dark costumes, one lying on the stage, the other seated in a wheelchair.

Marissa Thomas and Mary Verdi-Fletcher in “Mortal Flesh Lullaby,” choreographed by Mark Tomasic. Photo by Mark Horning.

The projects that I started during the past three months include writing preservation procedures, training staff members, writing a grant proposal, and processing items. By allowing myself to work on multiple projects simultaneously I was able to build the necessary sustainable groundwork of a self-sustaining archive and storage systems. The two main projects in need of continuation are the processing of the Dancing Wheels collection following the procedures I have created, as well as the digitization of audiovisual items that were created in now-obsolete formats (e.g. VHS tapes, Betamax, cassettes, DVDs, etc.) Both projects are vital to the continued preservation and accessibility of the Dancing Wheels archive. The company will work in partnership with Case Western Reserve University’s Freedman Center to digitize all video and audio records so that they can be shared online and stored digitally. This will help ensure a more secure and stable preservation of these records for years to come. Once the files have been saved in digital form they can be shared with Cleveland Memory, which is an online repository with a collection of theater and dance materials. By doing this, Dancing Wheels will increase access to their records and improve visibility and engagement.

Eight dancers on stage, jumping with arms outspread, against a blue backdrop.

Cody Krause, Morgan Walker, Celina Naima Speck, McKenzie Beaverson, Mary Verdi-Fletcher, Marissa Thomas, DeMarco Sleeper, Matthew Bowman in “This Day,” choreographed by Donald Byrd. Photo by Mark Horning.

At the end of my Fellowship, I found it difficult to walk away from the archive, feeling the work was only half finished with so much left to do. I bemoaned not having another year to get the collection settled. However, I grew to understand and appreciate the time limit that was placed upon me, because it will be impossible for me to complete every archival project throughout my career and there will always be time restraints; the important part is to work within the structure you are given. So, although I wasn’t able to complete everything in the short three months, I am extremely grateful for the time I had and for the opportunity to work with an organization with such an important mission.  

Banner Photo: Trust, choreographed by Brian Murphy being performed at Beyond Barriers, Boundaries, and Belief! June 10th, 2022, at the Allen Theater at Playhouse Square. Dancers from left to right: Mary Verdi-Fletcher, Marissa Thomas, McKenzie Beaverson, Cody Krause and Celina Speck. In the group on the right: Matt Bowman, Morgan Walker and DeMarco Sleeper. Photograph by Mark Horning. All photos courtesy of Dancing Wheels.

A white woman with short brown hair wearing a maroon sweater stands in front of a brick wall.Hallie Oines is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Maryland with a focus on Archives and Digital Curation. Her passion is inclusive community-centered archives that work to center their narratives on voices that have previously been silenced and ignored.

Hallie’s previous professional experience includes archival processing at institutions such as the People’s Archive in the Washington DC Public Library. In her years working with nonprofits managing large-scale databases and fundraising, she continually seeks to ensure dignity for oppressed individuals in all aspects of her work.

Hallie is excited to collaborate with Dancing Wheels as she works to preserve their historic collection while also raising awareness of the organization’s contributions to the larger community.  Her childhood experience in the performing arts has taught her the significance of dance and cultural values, as well as how powerful it is to see oneself represented in a performance.


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