Princeton University Library is pleased to announce the acquisition by donation of the papers of Puerto Rican dancer, educator, choreographer, and independent scholar Alma Concepción. Concepción was first soloist of Ballets de San Juan, a member of the Carmen Amaya Company, Antonio´s Ballets de Madrid, and the Taller de Histriones mime company in Puerto Rico. She was the founder of Taller de Danza, a children’s movement and dance community organization based in Trenton, New Jersey. She was instructor of Spanish dance and ballet at the Princeton Ballet School and the Ballet Hispánico of New York, as well as Visiting Faculty at Fordham, Princeton, and Rutgers University. She has also been a long time and dedicated contributor to People & Stories / Gente y Cuentos, a grassroots literature program dedicated primarily to underserved communities.
The bulk of the collection consists of 42 chronologically and thematically organized albums that document Concepción’s life from her childhood in New York and Puerto Rico to her career as an artist in the performing arts and as an independent scholar. The albums contain hundreds of clippings, photographs, programs, letters, and posters. They extensively document the history of performing arts in Puerto Rico from 1950 to the early 1980s and shed light into other cultural aspects of contemporary Puerto Rican life in the island and its diaspora in the United States.
Many of the materials in the collection reference Ballets de San de Juan (co-directed by Ana García and Gilda Navarra), Taller de Histriones (directed by Gilda Navarra), as well as numerous Puerto Rican dancers. There are references to choreographers such as George Balanchine; dancers Alicia Alonso, Antonio Ruiz, Carmen Amaya, Frederick Franklin, María Tallfchief, Jacques d’Amboise; Puerto Rican musicians such as the Figueroa Family, Jack Delano, Héctor Campos Parsi, Amaury Veray, Ernesto Cordero; and visual artists Lorenzo Homar, Rafael Tufiño, and Antonio Martorell.
The Alma Concepción Collection will open to the public for consultation and research in 2023 upon completion of cataloging and preservation measures.
Selected articles by Alma Concepción:
- “Dancing their Stories: An experience with a Hispanic Community.” Dance in Hispanic Cultures, edited by Daniel Lewis, Harwood, 1994.
- “Dance in Puerto Rico: Embodied Meanings.” Caribbean Dance from Abakuá to Zouk: How Movement Shapes Identity, edited by Susanna Sloat, University Press of Florida, 2002
- “Dance and Belonging: Transformation of Rituals in Puerto Rican Music and Dance Forms.” Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement, vol. 14, issue 4, 2007.
- “Recordando los comienzos: Ballets de San Juan.” 80grados, https://www.80grados.net/, December 4, 2020.
- “En el Río Piedras de los años 70: Un pequeño colectivo danzante.” 80grados, https://www.80grados.net/, April 13, 2021.
- “Recuerdos de María Rodrigo (1888-1967) y de Laura de los Ríos (1913-1981).” Revista con la A, https://conlaa.com/, no. 83, September 2022.