Contemporary Dance Trust Archive

Scope and Content

This collection consists of papers relating to the running of the Contemporary Dance Trust which incorporated the London Contemporary Dance Theatre and the London Contemporary Dance School. The papers are therefore concerned with the administration of the trust, the running of the school and with education projects. Almost every aspect of the running of the London Contemporary Dance Theatre is covered including production files, touring files and personnel files. A substantial number of photographs of productions and individuals also form part of the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Inspired by the Martha Graham Dance Company performances in Britain in March 1954 Robin Howard's enthusiasm for modern dance ultimately led to the formation of the London School of Contemporary Dance in 1966. The body running the school was known as the Contemporary Ballet Trust and was renamed in 1970 as the Contemporary Dance Trust.

In 1967 Robert Cohan was appointed as artistic director and under his direction the London Contemporary Dance Group using dancers from the London School of Contemporary Dance and the Martha Graham Dance Company performed for the first time. A home was found for the Trust in January 1969 in a building that became known as The Place. 1969 saw the first London season of the London Contemporary Dance Company and the company went form strength to strength, touring, doing London seasons and also promoting contemporary dance through workshops, demonstrations and education projects. A number of the dancers such as Siobhan Davies and Richard Alston who began their careers at the London Contemporary Dance School (as it became known) went on to choreograph their own works for the company and later to choreograph for other companies. In fact many went on to establish their own dance companies.

In 1994 the decision to restructure the Contemporary Dance Trust was taken. This was done with a view to providing the flexibility that choreographers increasingly required reflected in the trend towards choreographer led companies. Richard Alston was appointed as artistic director of the Trust and The London Contemporary Dance Theatre was replaced by a smaller choreographer-led company in Autumn 1994. The Contemporary Dance Trust and The Place continue to exist and run the London Contemporary Dance School, The Place Theatre, Education and Community Programmes, The Video Place and The Data Place. The Place also provides an administrative home for companies such as The Cholmondeleys and Featherstonehaughs, Shobana Jeyasingh, V-TOL and the Jonathan Burrows Group.


The collection has been divided into eleven series

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: .

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Closed records:

Material covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 will be closed for the lifetime of the individuals named. Where a file refers to more than one individual it will be closed until the demise of all the individuals named.

Financial information concerning living individual's will be closed for that individual's lifetime. Where a file refers to more than one individual it will be closed until the demise of all the individuals named.

Restricted records:

Material concerned with royalty payments is restricted until 1 January 2050.

Records of board meetings (agendas, papers and minutes) are restricted until 1 January 2050.

Robin Howard's personal correspondence is restricted until 1 January 2030.

Internal memoranda circulated by Jack Norton are restricted until 1 January 2030.

Permission to access and use restricted records must be granted by the designated officers of The Place, 17 Duke's Road, London, WC1H 9PY. Sue Hoyle and David Burnie will grant permission, consulting Janet Eager about issues of a sensitive nature.

Acquisition Information

The Contemporary Dance Trust Archive was catalogued with the generous support of The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The Archive was received as a gift from the Contemporary Dance Trust in 1999.

Other Finding Aids

A preliminary list had been drawn up by the Contemporary Dance Trust's archivist. This listing has been incorporated into the catalogue and has itself been preserved and listed (ref: THM/22/11/2).

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: .

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Custodial History

While retained by the Contemporary Dance Trust the collection was under the care of the Trust's archivist. The archivist oversaw the transfer of material to the Theatre Museum.

Related Material

Other material relating to the Contemporary Dance Trust can be found in the Department of Theatre and Performance's core collections. These include programmes as well as photographs particularly those by Anthony Crickmay.


Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp, London Contemporary Dance Theatre: The First 21 Years (London, 1989)

Richard Mansfield, London Contemporary Dance Theatre in Joan W. White Twentieth Century Dance in Britain: A History of Five Dance Companies (1985)