Guide to the Dr. Charles Davis Papers, 1938-2003
Dr. Charles Rudolph "Chuck" Davis or Baba Chuck (1937-2017) was an African American dancer, choreographer, and founder of the African American Dance Ensemble, the Chuck Davis Dance Company, and the annual DanceAfrica Festival. Collection includes correspondence, paper based records, printed materials, teaching materials, programs, posters, publications, newspaper clippings, conference materials, notebooks, photographs, negatives, slides, super 8 film, artwork, and various other types of memorabilia.
- Dr. Charles Davis papers
- Davis, Charles
- 23.25 Linear Feet
- American Dance Festival Archives
- English and French
Collection includes correspondence, paper based records, printed materials, teaching materials, programs, posters, post cards, publications, newspaper clippings, conference materials, notebooks, photographs, negatives, slides, super 8 film, artwork, and various other types of memorabilia
Arranged into eight series: Correspondence, Administrative Records, Subject Files, Printed Materials, Newspaper Clippings, Notebooks, Audiovisual Materials, and Memorabilia
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Please contact the American Dance Festival Archives (email@example.com) to arrange for use of these materials.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
In off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.
Access to audiotapes and videotapes in this collection requires the use of reference copies. To arrange for the creation of reference copies please contact the American Dance Festival Archives.
Use & Permissions
Copyright for official American Dance Festival administrative records is held by the American Dance Festival; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Dr. Charles Davis Records, American Dance Festival Archives.
The Correspondence series is comprised of paper communication both composed and received by Davis. The series consists of personal and business correspondence and memos, postcards, invitations, announcements, and greeting cards. A bulk of correspondence are those maintained with the hosts and collaborators of his excursions to West Africa during the early 1990s. Additionally, there are letters and postcards written to Davis's parents, Tony and Ethel.
The Administrative Records series consists of written materials related to Davis's professional career, including institutional records of the dance companies he founded, the Chuck Davis Dance Company (1968 - 1986) and the African American Dance Ensemble (1984 - present).
The A.A.D.E. subseries contains the minutes, agendas and memos of the A.A.D.E. Executive Board, business correspondence between board members and between Chuck Davis and the company artists and staff members, production information including technical specifics, scripts and choreographic notes by Davis. Additionally, there are financial records such as budget reports and audits, development of the company, with information on strategic planning and fundraising. Finally, there are personnel information, such as biographies for company members, a 1988 staff manual and artist contract information.
The Chuck Davis subseries contains materials relating to Davis's personal career, such as itineraries for Davis's individual engagements and materials for other projects in which Davis was involved, including the Cultural Arts Safari, an almost annual tour to Africa guided by Davis, as well as his involement with the Durham Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The C.D.D.C. subseries contains production information provided in choreographic notes and scripts as well as grants and contractual materials.
The DanceAfrica subseries contains administrative records related to finance and personnel, production notes, and publicity materials.
The Subject Files series contains reading material related to dance, poetry, music, and Africa. Additionally, there are several scripts and scores from dramatic productions and stagings that Davis choreographed, as well as curriculum guides, handouts, educational resources, and other teaching materials Davis collected for use in his classes and workshops on dance, Africa, and related topics.
The Printed Materials series contains programs, conference items, and publications.
The Programs subseries contains programs of A.A.D.E. and C.D.D.C. performances.
The Regarding Davis subseries is a collection of publications that include mentions of Davis or his companies.
The Saved Publications subseries is mostly dance or cultural publications on various topics, but not directly mentioning Davis.
The Conference Materials subseries consists of materials collected from annual conferences mostly related to dance or African American dance. Most contain schedules as well as information on the city in which the conference was being held. It also contains information on conferences at which Davis spoke or offered a workshop.
The Promotional Materials subseries includes posters, brochures, press kits, and publicity for A.A.D.E., C.D.D.C., The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Davis's solo engagements.
The Newspaper Clippings series contains newsprint and photocopied articles documenting the performances, festivals, lecture demonstrations, and community activities sponsored by Davis, Chuck Davis Dance Company, African American Dance Ensemble, and DanceAfrica. Also included are clippings related to friends and colleagues of Davis as well as news, performances, and events of personal interest to Davis.
The bulk of the entries in the notebooks and legal pads consist of Davis's handwritten personal notes ranging in subject from ideas for choreography, company production details, and costume notes to lesson plans, lottery numbers, sketches, and shopping and to-do lists. Additionally, there are first drafts of schedules for the Cultural Arts Safari trips as well as rehearsal schedules and community engagements. Also included are handwritten drafts of correspondence and business memos.
The Audiovisual Materials series consists of prints, negatives, slides, and moving images.
The Prints and Negatives subseries contains color and black-and-white prints, negatives, contact sheets, and photocopied photographs documenting both the career of Chuck Davis and his personal life. The bulk of the photographs are color 35mm snapshots that document Davis's numerous trips to Africa, the earliest in the series dating back to 1991. The photographs depict Davis on personal trips, with company members, and as tour guide of several Cultural Arts Safari excursions, a program that he initiated in hopes of introducing more people to West African dance and culture. This subseries also includes an assortment of photographs of Davis teaching class, giving lecture demonstrations at the American Dance Festival and Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, as well as numerous snapshots of friends and family, mostly unidentified. Also contained in the series are several autographed pictures from colleagues and performers including, Rennie Harris Pure Movement and jazz vocalist Nneenna Freelon.
The photographic materials are arranged chronologically, when the date is known. Following the chronological run are undated photographs, arranged alphabetically by subject. Folders in this subseries are labeled with date, event, location (when available), and photographer's name (indicated by brackets when known).
The Slides subseries consists of mounted slides separated by folder and arranged chronologically. There are also several boxes with known month and date, as well as a large amount of unidentified slides.
The Moving Images subseries consists of eight reels of super 8 film, as well as one Maxell 8 mm GX-MP 120 Video Tape.
The Memorabilia series contains an assortment of keepsakes and momentos from Davis's career and personal life. A substantial portion of this series is comprised of blank postcards collected during Davis's many travels. Davis's travels are also documented in this series through assorted foreign currencies, travel brochures, and a passport. Additionally there are two scrapbooks, a spelling book, several yearbooks, and a US Navy book from Davis's time in the Navy. There are business cards collected throughout Davis's career, pins from the Chuck Davis Dance Company, Christmas cards, costume designs and patterns, and nametags from conferences.
The Artwork subseries contains artwork in various mediums, given to Davis. These range from children's crayon drawings to sketches, pastels, and textile art.
The artwork is arranged alphabetically by artist last name.
These materials are comprised primarily of certificates of appreciation and recognition of Davis's community and philanthropic work, in addition to awards of praise for his choreographic and performance achievements.
Awards arranged chronologically.
Dr. Charles Rudolph "Chuck" Davis or Baba Chuck (1937-2017) was an African American dancer, choreographer, and founder of the African American Dance Ensemble, the Chuck Davis Dance Company, and the annual DanceAfrica Festival. Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Davis trained after high school as a naval medical corpsman in Washington, D.C., where he discovered a passion for Afro-Cuban dance. He then attended Howard University, taking classes in theater and dance. He continued his study of African dance under the guidance of Babatunde Olatunji, Eleo Pomare, and the Bernice Johnson Dance Company. After dancing with choreographers such as Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, Arthur Mitchell, Alvin Ailey, and José Limón, Davis founded the Chuck Davis Dance Company in 1968. The American Dance Festival offered Davis a position of artist-in-residence in 1971. After ADF's move to Duke University in 1978, ADF offered Davis the position again in 1980 and later asked him to lead their Community Outreach Program, a position he held until 1987. While in Durham, Davis founded the African American Dance Ensemble in 1983. Davis maintained consistent ties with the African community by hosting Cultural Arts Safaris and working with children in Gambia. With the motto "peace, love, and respect for everybody," Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble worked with schools, children, prisoners, and various other communities. Davis received many awards and honors including the 1992 "Bessie" award for excellence, 1992 North Carolina Award in Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music Award for distinguished service, honorary doctorates from Medgar Evers College in New York and Williams College in Massachusetts, the 2004 Dance Magazine Award, the Balasaraswati/Joy Anne Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching at the American Dance Festival in 2006, and the international Capezio Award in 2007.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
The Dr. Charles Davis Records were received by the American Dance Festival Archives as a gift.
Processed by ADF Archives Staff, June 2018