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Hannah Dennison Collection

Identifier: mss-075

Scope and Content

The Hannah Dennison Collection is comprised of documentation of choreographic and site specific dance/theatre works completed by Hannah Dennison throughout her career.

The collection was organized in chronological order and arranged by material type; it includes: projects, books, notebooks, tapes, videotapes, posters/fliers and miscellaneous documents. Significant projects include Elder Dance, The Mill Project, The Rose Street Bakery Project, The Neighborhood Project (different phases were also referred to as Border Crossings and Alfred, especially in the planning stages), Bus Barns, Outside Moves Inside, Dear Pina, Threads and Thresholds, and The Quarry Project. Books and recorded interviews about these projects are present, as are Dennison's books, notebooks and videotapes from the creation and presentation of these projects. Posters, fliers, and drawings from works such as the Mill Project and The Coal Field Walk/Dance provide more information. Audience response books are noteworthy for their unique form including a large rubber tire for the Bus Barns project and a wooden model of a house for the Neighborhood Project. Long time collaborator Leslie Anderson made unique artist books for several of Dennison's projects, especially a piece related to The Mill Project.


  • 1903-2023
  • Majority of material found in 1981-2023


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rigths:

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.


Hannah Dennison was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, December 9, 1947 to James T. Dennison and Nancy Williams (Dennison). She has two older sisters, Sally and Becky and a younger brother, Andy. Her mother was a Christian Scientist and subsequently raised the children as such while her father remained an agnostic. Hannah left the formal religion in her early teens but retains some of its ideas today.

As a child Hannah was involved in sports, the outdoors and animals. She attended the Cambridge School of Weston from 1960 to 1966, with the exception in 1964 when she attended Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., due to her father's job change. Hannah briefly attended college at the University of Denver after which she lived on communes in California and Colorado. She moved to Boston in 1969 and lived in the macrobiotic community in Brookline.

She married Warren Durbin in September 1970 and gave birth to her son Zackary in January 1971. The family moved to South Woodstock, Vermont the following summer where they ran a Natural Food store until they moved to Burlington the fall of 1972. As soon as her son was able to attend day care, Hannah began working various odd jobs such as grounds keeper for Dorothy Westervelt and assistant administrator of Shelburne Farm Resources. She divorced her husband in 1975.

During the year 1977 Hannah began to dance. She took her first dance class with Monta Jones at UVM and received more training at the Main Street Dance Theatre with Nancy Watkin and Sara McMahon. By 1979 she was a teacher herself. After she left Main Street Dance Theatre she began devoting her energies to alternative studies of the moving body and the creation of dance/theatre pieces for stage and site specific pieces for a variety of settings, both inside and outdoors.

In 1991, she created the non-profit Cradle to Grave Arts, an arts and education organization focused on dance. Dennison continues to craft projects for this community-based company which incorporates trained dancers and relative novices. Dennison also worked with the group Over Clouds Rot, a collection of dance artists that collaborated on improvisational and site specific pieces in the late 1990s.

Hannah has suggested that her materials may be useful to those who are collecting information about the industrial revolution and the mills in Winooski in particular, oral histories of former mill workers, how art can play a role in understanding history, teaching movement art in schools, researching the creative process and how work develops, art grant applications, and community art projects. For a fuller biography and her thoughts on the value of the collection, see the 1998 biography in the collection.


40 Linear Feet (19 cartons, 13 box albums, 8 boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 5 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



The Hannah Dennison Papers document several of the dance/theatre works and projects completed by Hannah Dennison over the course of her career.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the Hannah Dennison Papers
Processor: Mary Benjamin.
© 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)