On Wednesday July 18, 2018, 6:00pm-7:30pm, the Museum of Performance + Design will commemorate 50 years of San Francisco dance history with a FREE outreach party celebrating the launch of our new site, Captured Live: Fifty Years of Bay Area Dance Photography. The event will include a presentation of the website and remarks from some of the dancers and artists featured in the project. Light refreshments will be provided.

Captured Live was a year-long NEA-supported preservation / access project in which 2,500 images of local dancers, companies, and performances from the collections of photographers Katherine Kahrs, Chester Kessler, Henrietta McDowell, and Bob McLeod were digitized, cataloged, and uploaded online for public research, education, and enjoyment. Highlights include photos of rehearsals and performances featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ruth Beckford, Lew Christensen, Eiko + Koma, Margot Fonteyn, Anna Halprin, Welland Lathrop, John McFall, Rudolf Nureyev, Michael Smuin, Maria Tallchief, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Dance Spectrum, and stars of the San Francisco Ballet. The Henrietta McDowell, Chester Kessler, Bob McLeod, and Katherine Kahrs photographic collections are part of The Elyse Eng Dance Collection at the Museum of Performance + Design.

Click here for more information about the Launch Party.

For more information about NEA grant project, click here.


Henrietta (Henri) Deming McDowell was the official photographer for the San Francisco Ballet, documenting nearly every ballet performed in that period of time. Promotional materials and souvenir programs often featured her photographs. Her photography and articles about ballet and Lew Christensen appeared in numerous publications. The collection at MP+D includes negatives, mini positives, slides, loose and bound black and white and color prints of varying sizes, and personal papers consisting of news clippings, manuscripts, publications, correspondence, and awards. Noted dancers and choreographers featured in the collection include Lew Christensen, Michael Smuin, Carlos Carvajal, Robert Gladstein, Sally Bailey, Anita Paciotti, Tomm Ruud, Betsy Erickson, Val Caniparoli, and Jocelyn Vollmar. For more information and to access the finding aid, click here.


Chester Kessler was a student of Minor White’s photography program at the California School of Fine Arts. During the late 1950s and the early 1960s, he photographed and documented performances of postmodern dancer Anna Halprin and San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop. His collection at MP+D contains approximately 1,500 photographs, negatives and transparencies of important dancers and dance companies in works choreographed by notables such as George Balanchine, Ruth Beckford, Carlos Carvajal, Lew Christensen, Anna Halprin, and Welland Lathrop. For more information and to access the finding aid, click here.

Robert J. (Bob) McLeod was a San Francisco-based photographer. He worked for years at the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle. McLeod was married to photographer Beth Witrogen, whose photographic work is also included in this collection. The collection at MP+D includes photographic prints, negatives, slides, programs, and press clippings from the Examiner and Chronicle featuring his work. Notable dancers and choreographers reflected in his collection include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ethan Stiefel, and Desmond Richardson, as well as several prominent dancers and choreographers who worked with companies such as San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. For more information and to access the finding aid, click here.

Katherine Kahrs is a teacher, painter, and photographer. During the 1980s, Kahrs served as an official photographer for the Pacific Dance Center and the Palo Alto Dance Center, thus compiling an important visual record of their contributions to dance education. She also photographed performances by such groups as the Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Eiko + Koma, Margaret Wingrove Dancers, the Sugano School of Ballet, the New Dance Co., Dancers' Repertory Theatre, the Golden Gate Ballet, Footwork, the San Francisco Jazz Dance Co., and the San Francisco Moving Co. Many individuals affiliated with these dance groups are also featured in the collection. The collection includes slides, negatives, photographic prints as well as programs and related promotional materials featuring Kahr's photography. For more information and to access the finding aid, click here.