Skip to main content

Research Guides

Dance: Dance Subject Headings

Recomended databases, e-journals, and resources on dance.

Dance Subject Searching

Subject Headings

The Library of Congress Subject Headings is a thesaurus, which helps you find words to use when you search by subject.



Broad subjects are subdivided by topic, form, geographically and/or chronologically. Most library catalogues and indexes use a subject approach similar to the Library of Congress. When a subject is broad, it is subdivided in the following ways:


  • limits to a special subtopic, e.g. Women -- Employment


  • indicates the form in which material is organized or presented, e.g., congresses, dictionaries, periodicals


  • Dance 17th Century
  • Dance 18th Century


  • Dance Canada
  • Dance Canada History :
  • Dance Canada Northern -- see also --Gwichin Dance
  • Dance Music United States 19th Century :
  • Dance Music United States 20th Century Bibliography :
  • Dance Music Venezuela

Subdivision Combinations

You can have both historical and geographic subdivisions:

  • Dance England
  • Dance England History
  • Dance England History 16th Century
  • Dance England History 17th Century
  • Dance England London

Or subdivisions which combine form with another subdivision:

  • Dance History 20th Century Bibliography
  • Dance History 20th Century Exhibitions
  • Dance History Periodicals
  • Dance Criticism Periodicals
  • Dance Criticism Russia Federation
  • Dance Criticism United States History
  • Dance Dictionaries French
  • Dance Lawrence D H David Herbert 1885 1930 Knowledge

How You Know If the Subject Term You Use Is a Good One

--See also
means your term is good and you can also try their suggested terms

  • -- See also Choreography
  • -- See also Gesture in dance
  • Movement Notation -- See also the narrower term Dance notation
  • Dance Companies -- See also the narrower term Ballet companies

Search for or -- See
means your term doesn't work and you need to try their suggested terms

  • Dance Cherokee
    -- Search for Cherokee Dance
  • Dance Gesture
    Dance Gesture -- See Gesture in dance
  • Dance Hopi
    -- Search for Hopi Dance

Browsing the Dance Subject Search

Dance Subject Search

Note there are over sixty subjects related to Dance. The list is in alphabetic order and you can follow the Links to any subject of interest.

  • Dance Accidents And Injuries Prevention
  • Dance Aesthetics
  • Dance Anthropological Aspects
  • Dance Bibliography
  • Dance Bibliography Catalogs
  • Dance Bibliography Periodicals

See and See Also References are identified on the List:

  • Dance Movement Therapy -- see --Dance Therapy
  • Dance Notation -- see also --Labanotation
  • Dance Periodicals

If you search for Dance Periodicals you can browse the list of periodicals. Remember this list includes periodicals currently published as well as titles, which are ceased. Be aware that not all dance periodicals are classed under "dance periodicals"; ballet periodicals have their own subject heading, "ballet periodicals".

If you find a book you like. Return to the online catalog and check the subject headings used. It's always a good idea to track subject headings of any book you find of value.

Comparing Subject Searching with Keyword Searching

Keyword searching provides more flexibility than searching by subject headings but you may sacrifice precision, i.e., you may get a number of false hits. However, you can use phrases and strategies such as proximity searching or you can limit your searches by language, year, publication type, library location, etc. to try and increase the precision of your search.

Subject searches use set terminology as determined by the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

A keyword search of (dance or dancing or dancers) and aesthetics in the UW Libraries Online Catalog provides over 70 results; a subject search of Dance Aesthetics currently provides only one.

  • However, a large number of the keyword searches are not relevant to the topic of aesthetics in dance.
  • Another problem may be the use of the word aesthetics itself. By performing a subject search for aesthetics, you can see that there is a see also statement which leads to you a list of related and narrower terms.
    • One of the see also terms is Criticism and another useful term is Movement, Aesthetics of. Criticism can be appended to most subject headings, for example, Dance--Criticism; or you could perform a subject search for Movement, Aesthetics of and see what kinds of results you get.