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Frames of Reference; Dance in Open Spaces

Part of New Television Workshop.

Maya Deren : Choreography for Camera

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Frames of Reference
Dance in Open Spaces
Series Description

“Frames of Reference” was a series that began circa 1978. Half-hour shows were produced to showcase commissioned and already created works. It was around this time that the focus of the Workshop shifted, to concentrate more heavily on creating works for broadcast. During its time, “Frames of Reference” was the focus of the Workshop’s national arts programming effort. In an attempt to raise funds and foster collaboration, Workshop personnel approached and visited several public television stations nationwide. The major collaborative relationship was with WGBH’s “sister station,” WGBY (Springfield, Mass.). Among the featured artists were Meredith Monk, Remy Charlip, Trisha Brown, and Peter Campus. In 1981, “Frames of Reference” was packaged and offered to PBS, during what is known as “flex time” and was broadcast by WGBH, WNET (New York), and WGBY (Springfield, Mass.). “Frames of Reference” ended as a series ca. 1983, because of a lack of funding. Series release date: 1978

Program Description

This compilation, which opens with “Frames of Reference” talent Midge Graves in dance class, is a showcase for works created by the Workshop and other filmmakers, showing dancers working out of doors. Film clips featured include Thomas Edison’s film of a Maypole dance; Doris Humphrey’s “A Hoop and Scarf Dance”; Irma Duncan (an Isadora Duncan disciple) and her dancers in a garden with great columns; an underwater ballerina; Maya Deren’s “A Study in Choreography for Camera”; John Butler’s “Carmina Burana”; Donald McKayle’s “Rainbow Round My Shoulder”; and an Italian television commercial.

Workshop pieces featured include segments of “George’s House,” “City Motion Space Game,” “District 1,” and the complete “As Quiet As....”

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Modern dance
Natural areas
Film and Television
Fred Barzyk (Producer)
Graves, Midge ()
Wagoner, Dan ()
Solomons, Gus, Jr. ()
Dance Company, Concert ()
Perez, Rudy ()
Chicago: “Frames of Reference; Dance in Open Spaces,” GBH Archives, accessed April 20, 2024,
MLA: “Frames of Reference; Dance in Open Spaces.” GBH Archives. Web. April 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Frames of Reference; Dance in Open Spaces. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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