Dorothy Madden Collection

Scope and Content

Photographs, personal and professional papers, reviews, press cuttings, oral histories, research notes and audiovisual material of Dr Dorothy Gifford Madden, former Professor Emerita of the University of Maryland, United States of America who was responsible for bringing American modern dance practice to the United Kingdom.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dorothy Gifford Madden was born in New Hampshire in America and educated at Middlebury College, Vermont where she graduated in French and music and became interested in dance under the influence of Mary Lou Storrs who had been trained by the German expressionist Mary Wigman, a pupil of Rudolf Laban.

Madden became a dance instructor in the physical education department at Maryland University and by 1967 had become the Founding Chairman of the Dance Department, a position she retained until 1972. In 1962 she enrolled at New York University to do a doctorate in dance as a creative art. She was the first person to receive a PhD in which the practice of choreography was part of the assessment.

In the 1960s she was invited to the United Kingdom by the Ministry of Education and later by Dartington Hall to introduce modern American dance into British education. During her administrative career she performed in Washington with the Chamber Dance Group, Children's Dance Theatre and the dance companies of Pola Nirenska and Ethel Butler. In 1971 she founded the Maryland Dance Theatre, a touring company that performed contemporary dance until 1988 when it closed.

In 1977 she retired from Maryland as Professor Emerita of Dance and took up a post at Laban (now Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance) to write and lead the first MA in Choreography and the first doctoral programme in dance studies. She also mentored choreographers through her mid-80s at dance schools in Paris and Europe.

In 1992 the University of Maryland honoured her by naming part of the new theatre complex after her, and in 2003 began a dance scholarship in her name. Dorothy Madden died in London in 2009.


The Collection has been sorted into the following series:

  • D23/A Choreography
  • D23/B Research PhD New York University 1962
  • D23/C Tours
  • D23/D Maryland Dance Theatre
  • D23/E Department of Dance, University of Maryland
  • D23/F Professional dance career
  • D23/G Teaching
  • D23/H Research for the book You call me Louis, not Mr Horst
  • D23/I National Dance Association
  • D23/J Articles
  • D23/K Professional career
  • D23/L Dorothy Madden Studio Theatre
  • D23/M Reviews
  • D23/N Advisory work
  • D23/O Portraits
  • D23/P Oral history
  • D23/Q Writings
  • D23/R Music
  • D23/S Videos

Access Information

Temporarily closed to the public.

Acquisition Information

Dorothy Madden via Valerie Preston-Dunlop.

Other Finding Aids

A pdf document of the Dorothy Madden catalogue can searched on the Laban Archive catalogue.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Jane Fowler, Archivist, Laban.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies can be made according to copyright law and depending on the condition of the documents. Please consult the Archivist.

Appraisal Information

Duplicate material has been weeded.

Custodial History

Dorothy Madden employed an assistant to catalogue her archive collection which was stored in boxes in her house. The archive was donated to the Laban Archive by Dr Madden before her death.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

The text of Dorothy Madden's PhD thesis is available in the Marion North Collection held at the Laban Archive. An oral interview with Dr Madden about American modern dance coming to the UK is held in the Laban Collection at the Laban Archive.

The Maryland Dance Theater Collection is held at Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States of America.

Further archive material concerning Dorothy Madden can be found in the Kenneth Rinker Collection and the Laban Centre Archive held in the Laban Archive.


The research notes for the book Madden, Dorothy (1996). You call me Louis, not Mr Horst Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, are included in this collection, as well as notes for Madden's PhD thesis Always the Sea. The DVD, Preston-Dunlop, Valerie (2005) The American invasion 1962-72London: Laban, is based on Dorothy Madden's work in bringing American modern dance to the UK.