On Saturday, May 10, the Newberry received the 2014 Distinguished Service Award from the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. First bestowed in 2013, the Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual or organization who has demonstrated extraordinary service and leadership in advancing the mission of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts to ensure that children and dance artists have a place to study, work, and perform at the highest level of excellence.
“One area that the Ruth Page Center cares very deeply about is the history of Ruth Page as artist, dancer, and choreographer,” said Salme Harju Steinberg, President Emerita of Northeastern Illinois University and member of the Ruth Page Foundation's Board of Directors, in her remarks leading up to the presentation of the award. “We are all tremendously indebted to the Newberry and its decision to study, catalog, and preserve the archives that document Ruth Page’s life.”
Ruth Page was a pioneer in the field of dance, creating fully produced works, choreographing operas, and bringing dance to new locations and to new audiences. Ms. Page was also an educator and a benefactor, dedicated to promoting dance in all its forms to a wide audience. Emanating from the Illinois heartland, the visionary work of Ruth Page influenced the growth of theater design, opera ballet, and dance. She achieved worldwide recognition as a true pioneer of dance in America. Ruth Page choreographed, danced, toured, and produced in all parts of the world, and was employed by, collaborated with, and employed some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century: Irving Berlin, Aaron Copland, Sergei Diaghilev, Katherine Dunham, Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Anna Pavlova.
Committed to preserving in Chicago a record of the city’s vital contemporary scene, the Newberry collects and houses a wide range of personal materials from choreographers, dancers, company founders and managers, critics, and photographers, and the records of dance companies, studios, and promotional organizations. The Newberry last year was honored to become home to the magnificent Ruth Page Collection, generously donated to the library by the arts center. It includes more than 100 boxes and cartons of programs, publicity materials, correspondence, and musical scores. It also includes six boxes of items relating to the annual production of “The Nutcracker,” performed at the Arie Crown Theater from 1965 to 1997, and six cubic feet of video archives.
“We are very pleased and proud to be honored by one of the nation’s most prestigious centers for dance—as well as a Newberry neighbor,” said Newberry President David Spadafora, who accepted the award on behalf of the library. “We are, moreover, extremely grateful for the center’s generous donation of materials, which advances our mission by fostering scholarship in the field of the arts, particularly dance.”
Established in Chicago by Ruth Page in 1970, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a non-profit organization committed to the education, promotion, and presentation of dance in Chicago. The Center also promotes Ms. Page’s vision of dance as an innovative and accessible art form that fosters artistic excellence and creates a dance destination in Illinois. For more than 40 years, The Center has committed its resources to serving the Chicago dance community by being an incubator, providing a home, office space, rehearsal space, performance opportunities, professional dance training, and marketing support for the up-and-coming companies and artists of Chicago’s vibrant dance scene.
Privately funded but free and open to the public, the Newberry Library is one of only a handful of independent research libraries in the world that allows the public full access to its collections. Founded in 1887 and installed in its current facility in 1893, the Newberry is home to more than 1.5 million books, 5 million manuscript pages (15,000 cubic feet), and 500,000 historic maps. Spanning six centuries, the collections focus on Western Europe and the Americas, and include Chicago’s only copy of Shakespeare’s first folio, illuminated medieval manuscripts, letters written by Napoleon III and Thomas Jefferson, and the personal papers of Midwest authors. More than 100,000 people visit the Newberry every year to conduct research and attend seminars, lectures, exhibits, concerts, and other special events.
The institutions lie within a block from one another in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.