Scope and arrangement
The Richard Bull Papers range in date from 1926-2003 and primarily document Bull's professional life as a choreographer, improviser, teacher, academic administrator and founder of an arts organization and performance space from the 1960s through the late 1990s. Included are: correspondence, rehearsal notes and logs, scenarios, programs, lighting plots, audition forms, teaching logs and journals, class lists, syllabi, registration forms, ticket reservation books, financial information, published and unpublished writings, and photographs. Also included are papers and photos related to Cynthia Novack, as well as personal papers and professional and personal photographs.
The art of improvisation in performance was a fundamental inspiration for Bull's creative, pedagogical and administrative work and is represented in several series of the collection. His pioneering use of choreographic structured improvisation is most literally documented in the Dance Structures series, where some of the raw material of his creative process is held. Bull's pursuit of a career in academia is recorded in administrative correspondence with various universities. Folders for courses taught at New York University [NYU], State University of New York College at Brockport [SUNY Brockport], and Wesleyan University's Graduate Movement Studies Program reflect the development of Bull's theories, convey his pleasure in intellectual exploration and his dedicated mentoring of students. The founding and activities of the Improvisational Arts Ensembles [IAE], the Warren Street Performance Loft [WSPL] and the Improvisational Dance Ensemble [IDE] are represented in separate, yet interdependent, series. IAE folders document the performances and some of the guest artists the organization sponsored, as do WSPL folders. The Richard Bull Dance Theatre papers also hold material that may pertain to IAE and WSPL series, along with folders for company residencies nation-wide. Graphic materials contain photographs and slides documenting individual works and places where Bull taught and performed.
The Richard Bull Papers are arranged in sixteen series:
- 1968-1998114 folders
This series contains correspondence from individuals and organizations. Among the authors are seminal figures in the fields of both music and dance improvisation as well as dance critics to whom Bull had written, questioning their reviews of his work. Copies of Richard Bull's replies to many of the correspondents are included in this and in all other Correspondence folders
- 1965-1996101 folders
This series holds folders for 102 of Bull's "structures" for performance improvisation, spanning his career in dance. The choreographic notes, rehearsal notes, programs, publicity, production information and reviews offer considerable insight into Bull's creative process.
- 1964-1970 and undated15 folders
The bulk of this small series consists of programs and announcements for student dance concerts and presentations at NYU's School of Education in which Bull participated, first as a student, and later, as a faculty member. Some material concerns the New York University Modern Dance Workshop for High School Students, which Bull directed.
- 1967-19787 folders
Bull's first dance company is represented here by programs, publicity, correspondence, journals and rehearsal logs. The logs and journals are of particular note as they contain Bull's detailed accounts of his work process and the challenges of establishing a modern dance company in New York City.
- 1969-198018 folders
This series holds material related to Bull's years as Chair and faculty member of the dance department at SUNY Brockport. It is comprised largely of folders for courses Bull taught, which contain syllabi, class lists, teaching notes and logs. Correspondence, programs, publications, etc. complete the series and record Bull's site specific work and his early collaborations with Cynthia Novack.
- 1979-200 and undated80 folders
The strength of this series lies in material concerning concerts produced at Warren Street Performance Loft. Folders for Guest Artists sponsored by I.A.E. contain correspondence, contracts, press materials, programs and photographs. Performance series folders, arranged chronologically, provide financial information, reviews, mailing lists, survey forms, etc. Material concerning applications to granting organizations form the final part of this series.
- 1978-199832 folders
This series primarily documents performances, classes and workshops sponsored by Improvisational Arts Ensembles [I.A.E.], which took place at WSPL from 1978-1997. Press releases, publicity, programs, lighting plots, reservation books, etc. convey the liveliness and longevity of the performance activity at the loft, while student registration forms, teaching notes, and course announcements demonstrate I.A.E.'s ongoing commitment to the workshop process. The daily affairs of the space, as both a professional studio and a home, are recorded in the numerous telephone message books.
- 1978-198310 folders
The activities of I.D.E., Bull's collaborative performing group with Cynthia Novack and Peentz Dubble, are documented by thirteen Scrapbook folders containing programs, press releases, contracts and announcements. Other artists with whom Bull or I.D.E. were affiliated during this period are also represented in this series, as is the 1980 American Dance Guild conference "Dance as Sport," for which Bull was Program Coordinator.
- 1983-199835 folders
For sixteen years, the Richard Bull Dance Theatre advanced the art of dance improvisation in performance. Material related to the company's professional efforts are gathered in this series and include programs, press releases, mailing lists, conference announcements, reviews, etc. Residency folders record some of the company's touring activities while a notebook of scenarios provides insight into the rehearsal process. Material related to the RBDT may also be found in Series VI and VII.
- 1980-1997230 folders
This ample series includes Bull's work in Wesleyan University's Graduate Liberal Studies Program, as professor and Director of the Graduate Studies in Movement and Dance. The many individual student folders include both correspondence and course work. Bull's thoughtful administrative interventions are recorded in his correspondence to students as is his vigorous encouragement of students' scholarly efforts. Administrative folders reflect the range of program-related activities for which Bull was responsible. Course folders generally hold class lists, teaching notes and teacher evaluations. Of particular note are folders related to the course The Joyce of Choreography, for which Bull devised a theoretical framework to integrate his passion for the writing of James Joyce with that of creating choreographic structures.
- 1952-200310 folders
In this series are collected both unpublished and published articles, writings, prose and poetry by Bull and others. "Three Place Once," Bull's 1968 Master's thesis, is found here, as are articles written about Bull and an interview conducted in 1992 by Kelly Donovan. Professional notebooks from 1963-1997 reflect the development of Bull's thinking as both teacher and artist.
- 1962-19825 folders
This small series includes one score and a folder of arrangements by Bull along with scores by others.
- 1970-199821 folders
Folders reflecting assorted activities and interests are included in this series. Vitae folders with resumes and reference letters from 1970-1998 span much of Bull's career, as do Programs and Publicity folders. The devoted care of Bull's Cancer Support Group is documented here as is the Memorial held for him after his death.
- 1977-199831 folders
Correspondence, notebooks, address books, medical and financial information comprise the bulk of this series. Some material also concerns Cynthia Novack (aka Cynthia Jean Cohen Bull).
- 1974-199711 folders
Novack's writing forms the major part of this series. Also included are correspondence, programs, material related to her performance piece entitled "Transformations", an interview, and a transcript of a roundtable regarding improvisation held at SUNY Purchase.
- 1972-1998 and undated69 folders
This series contains photographs, slides, contact sheets, posters and drawings related to student and professional productions which Richard Bull directed or on which he collaborated. Posters for the Improvisational Arts Ensembles performance series, as well as productions directed by Cynthia Novack and Gideon Foli Alorwoyie are included. Slides projected during the memorial services for Cynthia Novack and Richard Bull are held in this series, as are family snapshots.