Scope and arrangement
The Deena Burton papers documents Burton's study and performance of Indonesian dance, both in the United States and in Indonesia. Included are research materials of Burton's dissertation of ethnologist Claire Holt, and files regarding the editing and cataloging the films of Tassilo Adam for the New York Public Library. The collection contains both personal and professional correspondence, sketches, lyrics, and choreographic notes, photographs of her travels and studies in Indonesia, and notebooks from her graduate work at New York University. There is a small amount of material regarding Burton's work as an educator. The papers are in both English and Indonesian.
The Deena Burton papers are arranged in five series:
This series is composed of personal and professional correspondence, from correspondents in both the United States and Indonesia. It is arranged in chronological order by decade. Correspondence from 1976-1980 and 1989-1990 documents her travels in Indonesia and her study of dance there, particularly in long letters she wrote to her mother. Also documented is her work in the United States regarding her research projects, dance performances, and her work with Arts Indonesia, Artists Inspired by Asia, Artists Inspired by Indonesian, and Gamelan Son of Lion. The correspondence is in English and Indonesian.
Series II contains material relating to Burton's study of dance and her career as a performer. It is arranged alphabetically by subject. Burton's academic studies, her performances, and her administrative work were interconnected and often informed each other. For example, the choreographic and research notes Burton collected in Indonesia contain her own notations and interpretations that later influenced her choreography for performances produced in the United States, like Arabian Nights and The Ramayana. Additionally, Burton wrote her dissertation on Claire Holt entitled Sitting at the Feet of Gurus: The Life and Ethnography of Claire Holt, but also did a performance piece that incorporated dance with spoken word derived from Holt's correspondence and writings.
Files for Sitting at the Feet of Gurus hold incomplete drafts, primarily of the introduction and acknowledgments, correspondence regarding Burton's effort to have Holt included in the American National Biography, subject files, and photographs of Holt. The research files regarding Claire Holt are extensive and contain photocopies of primary documents obtained by Burton from various archives and from Holt's descendents. The date span for these files can be quite broad as they occasionally contain Burton's corresponding notes.
The Tassilo Adam film project includes notes on the pre-and-post edits of the film as well as notes detailing the dissection process. Burton's Fulbright Grant application details the scope and goals of Burton's trip to Indonesian to screen and distribute the completed work. Also included are photographs taken by Adam that were collected by Burton.
Choreographic and research notes reflect information collected by Burton in Indonesia and are rich with Javanese poetry and folk tales, dance and music notations, choreographic interpretations, and sketches of traditional costumes, masks, and staging. The earlier notebooks contain similar information. Later notebooks (1990-1997) regard coursework for Burton's doctorate in Performance Studies from New York University and are often interleaved with Burton's assignments and writing. Teaching materials include handouts, choreography, and thank you cards from Burton's Young Audience New York workshops.
Photographs are arranged alphabetically by subject. The bulk of the material reflects Burton's first trip to Indonesian (1976-1980) and includes photographs of Indonesian people, dancers, and performances that document various Javanese dancing styles, costumes and masks, and the day-to-day lifestyles of the Javanese. Notable subjects include Burton's teachers, Kandeg, Sudji, and Wayan Dibia. There is a large amount of photographs from Kandeg's home and studio in Cirebon, West Java. Photographs of masks includes prints of Burton's own mask collection.
Series IV contains a large amount of printed material collected by Burton. The material was divided by Burton into material published in Indonesia and in the United States; material from Indonesia is arranged by region and material from the United States is arranged by organization. This series includes programs, clippings, fliers, conference materials, and organizational brochures. It was often assumed that audiences might be unfamiliar with Indonesian dance and the programs are quite rich with detailed historical narratives and plot and story synapses. While material from Indonesia reflects primarily dance, material from the United States also includes fliers and programs for art exhibits and musical performances. Additionally, the unsorted files contains documents from collaborations between Burton and La Plante. Most of the printed material from Indonesia is in Indonesian.
This series is arranged alphabetically and includes a file containing biographical material for Burton, correspondence and forms regarding the loan of Burton's masks to the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden, reviews of Burton's performances, and a small amount of writing that includes reminiscences of Indonesia and poetry.