On a wintry January afternoon in 1956, 12 dance teachers gathered at New York’s 92nd Street YM-YWHA after an annual conference on teaching children creatively. The 12 felt that the event was too good to occur only once a year. It had provided an opportunity to see master teachers demonstrate their work with children and share with each other ideas, problems, and resources.
The Guild grew rapidly. Soon the membership was comprised of individuals and organizations from nearly every state in the union, as well as from abroad, and included performers, choreographers, writers, historians, critics, accompanists, therapists, notators, and educators at all levels.
It produced DanceScope, a far reaching publication edited by Marcia Siegel with in-depth articles that covered all areas of dance from Ballet to Jazz to Indian Dance to Jose Limón, Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins, Trisha Brown, Meredith Monk, Yvonne Rainer and many more.
Next came a new wave of annual conferences, each addressing a current issue in dance: Dance and Technology, Vision of Women in Dance, Dance in a Global Community – over 30 conferences from 1970 to 2001 each organized in a different city or university in the United States, as well as in Hong Kong and China. At each conference ADG would present an award honoring a distinguished member of the dance community. The honorees include: Marge Champion, Merce Cunningham, Carmen deLavallade, Katherine Dunham, Robert Ellis Dunn, Jean Erdman, Anna Halprin, Martha Hill, Hanya Holm, Arthur Mitchell, Alwin Nikolais, Antony Tudor, and many more.
In its newest incarnation, the American Dance Guild now focuses on offering performance opportunities both in annual festivals and “bare bones” low-tech productions, and awards a summer scholarship to Jacob’s Pillow.