Magazine article Dance Magazine

The Celluloid Dreamhouse

Magazine article Dance Magazine

The Celluloid Dreamhouse

Article excerpt

If you want to see a newspaper clipping of Fred Astaire and his daughter, Ava, at her debutante ball in 1959, view any number of Bollywood, Leslie Caron, or Jackie Chan movies, or even peruse a 1949 issue of DANCE MAGAZINE, the place to go is the Academy of Dance on Film. Founded in 1998 by Larry Billman, former hoofer turned stage director/writer/researcher, the nonprofit organization is a unique repository that serves teachers, choreographers, researchers, students, and dance fans.

Formerly housed in Hollywood, the Academy recently relocated to the 2,000-square-toot ground floor of Billman's house in Brea, Orange County. The rooms brim with dance-related memorabilia that the 65-year-old owner has been amassing for nearly thirty years through donations and his own purchases.

"Our mission statement," explains Billman, "is to bring attention to the artists who have created dance for the camera."

And so he does. Billman says the Academy, which has an annual operating budget of about $70,000 (including grants from the Jerome Robbins Foundation and the Henry W. Bull Foundation), is home to 2,000 magazines, more than 1,000 videotapes, and 1,500 Playbills from films, stage musicals, and dance companies, and boasts an exhaustive array of photographs.

Billman, who studied tap and modern dance as a youth, added choreographer to his resume in 1969, when Miriam Nelson asked him to assist her with a square dance sequence in The Great Bank Robbery, starring Zero Mostel and Kiln Novak. …

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