Current projects

Preservation of Switzerland’s audiovisual cultural heritage with Memoriav

In collaboration with Memoriav, the association set up to preserve Swiss audiovisual heritage, SAPA is currently organising several conservation projects (film, video, photography, audio):

All documents conserved and indexed for these projects are freely accessible thanks to Memobase, Memoriav’s online database:


Past projects

Preservation of audiovisual cultural heritage with Memoriav

Between 2008 and 2016, a team from the two foundations that gave rise to SAPA, and Memoriav, the Association for the Preservation of Swiss Audiovisual Heritage, conducted a series of projects on the conservation of audiovisual cultural heritage (film, video, photography, audio):

Contemporary Dance 2015-2019

This project covers a selection of recordings by major companies that have had a significant impact on Swiss dance creation over the past 30 years and have made an international name for themselves: Greffe (Cindy van Acker, Geneva), Alexandra Bachzetsis (Basel/Zurich), Zoo (Thomas Hauert, Brussels), Anna Huber (Zurich), Heidi Köpfer (Basel), Zimmermann & de Perrot (Zurich).

What characterises this generation is their conscious documenting of their work and their intensive engagement with the media of film and video. The selected recordings include not only standard recordings of a work, but also recordings of choreographies and rehearsals developed just for the camera. The recordings are of great importance within the scope of the complete works.

The aim of the project is to archive 128 video recordings by renowned Swiss choreographers. Represented in the selection are leading companies that have made a significant mark on Swiss dance creation over the past 30 years and enjoy international renown.

Conserving videotapes of the Cabaret Archive Collection 2014-2019

The purpose of the project is the digitisation, digital long-term archiving and indexing of around 150 videotapes on Swiss cabaret arts from the last 30 years.

Rescuing video recordings on the work of Sigurd Leeder 2013-2018

Sigurd Leeder (1902–1981) was one of the most influential dancers and choreographers of the past century and a co-founder of expressive dance. Leeder left behind an extensive, historically relevant body of work in the form of video and film recordings and written documents, such as his dance notations and correspondence with other notable figures in dance history.

For an initial selection of 100 videotapes, the majority of rights have already been cleared; they will undergo further screening and evaluation, resulting in a narrower selection of 40 to 50 tapes that will be processed and digitised for archiving, indexed, and then made publicly accessible.

Inventory of unique items from the Swiss Cabaret, Chanson and Pantomime Archive 2014-2016

Memoriav is assisting with the compilation of an inventory of unique performances on cassette tapes from the Swiss Cabaret, Chanson and Pantomime Archive. The project work also enables a comparison between existing and archived radio recordings to be made. The inventory is being compiled in view of the planned digitisation and future long-term conservation of the unique performances by the Swiss Theatre Collection. The list is based on the existing pre-cataloguing work completed by the Swiss Theatre Collection and supplemented by research activities conducted among the radio studios.

Preservation of the photographic material on the work of Sigurd Leeder 2013-2016

Sigurd Leeder (1902—1981) was one of the co-founders of expressive dance and respected as a leading figure in German dance. The dancer, choreographer and ballet master founded his own school in London in 1947. From 1959 to 1964 he taught at the University of Santiago de Chile. In 1965 he returned to Europe and relocated the “Sigurd Leeder School of Dance” – which he directed until his death – to Herisau, where he collaborated with the Swiss pedagogue Grete Müller.

The Leeder Collection contains numerous written documents, reflections on dance and his school, a mass of personal correspondence, as well as audiovisual recordings and visual material. The approximately 4000 prints on paper, 200 rolls of negatives and 100 negatives on glass plates, taken between 1920 and 1980, bear witness to the art of 20th century choreography: choreographies danced by Sigurd Leeder and Kurt Jooss, choreographies designed by Leeder and danced by his students, courses at various schools, conferences, tours, internships and travels in Europe and America, research on movement notation, portraits of dancers, self-portraits, personal photographs, etc.

Video recordings “The Romandie pioneers” 2010-2016

For an exhibition on contemporary dance in the French-speaking region of Switzerland held in Lausanne in 2008, the Association Vaudoise de Danse Contemporaine AVDC had collected about 250 videotapes in various formats. The recordings document the work of selected companies and choreographers from the 1970s to the 1990s, who are no longer active today and of whom SAPA has no original tapes:

With the support of Memoriav, the Swiss Dance Archive is able to preserve the fonds, make it accessible and thereby preserve the history of dance creation in French-speaking Switzerland from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Video recordings Berner Tanztage 2010-2013

The Berner Tanztage dance festival was first held in 1987 and performances staged at the international dance festival as well as other projects run by the Berner Tanztage association have been recorded on video practically ever since. In the 20 years of its existence, many of Switzerland’s leading dance companies as well as renowned international contemporary dance companies have performed in Bern. The result is a total of around 300 recordings, of which around 200 are to be saved.

The goal of rescuing this fonds was to ensure the long-term preservation of the cinematic legacy of this important event organiser in the world of dance. The fonds material has been transferred to DVCAM tapes; in addition, a high-resolution file for archiving and a low-resolution file for actual use was produced.

Emergency salvation of video recordings of Swiss dance creation 2008

The project enabled emergency measures to be taken to conserve key video recordings on dance creation in Switzerland. 152 works from the following seven companies were overwritten and archived (Seefeld Tanzprojekt, Cathy Sharp Dance Ensemble, Claude Perrottet, Belinda Wright and Jelko Yuresha, Compagnie 100% Acrylique, Vertical Danse / Noemi Lapzeson, Zoo / Thomas Hauert).

All documents preserved and indexed for these projects are freely accessible thanks to Memobase, Memoriav’s online database:

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