Simone Michelle Collection

Scope and Content

Photographs, sheet music, correspondence, articles, dance theatre programmes, pamphlets, newspaper clippings and audio cassettes of Simone Michelle.

Administrative / Biographical History

Simone Michelle was a dancer and teacher and one of the most influential figures in pioneering the Central European tradition of modern dance in British Theatre education. She became one of the finest performers and teachers of the Leeder system of modern dance in Britain. Born Simone Moser in Paris on 10 May 1916, she studied at the Ecole Normale de Musique, before moving in 1934 to study as a professional dancer at the newly-founded Jooss-Leeder school at Dartington Hall, South Devon. She joined the Jooss Company, taking Simone Michelle as her stage name, and at Dartington was influenced not only by Jooss, Sigurd Leeder and Rudolf Laban, but other artists who found refuge there from Hitler - among them the Austrian sculptor Willi Soukop whom she later married (1945). With him, she went to Canada at the beginning of the war and in America she studied classical ballet under Vincenzo Celli, the foremost Cecchetti teacher in the United States, then with studies in Spanish dancing, she toured the US giving solo recitals and performances for five years. On returning to Britain, she discovered her true vocation and began teaching. She taught movement part-time to singers at the National Opera Centre, then full-time at the London Opera Centre, then movement for actors part-time again in drama schools. Finally for seven years from 1958, she directed the Leeder School in London before joining the Laban Art of Movement Studio in Addlestone, Surrey, in 1965. In 1974, when the Studio moved to New Cross, to become the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance, she joined the faculty, teaching the Leeder technique and choreography, until her retirement in 1991. She died in London on 27 June 1993, leaving behind a son and a daughter.


The collection has been arranged into the following series:

  • A/Teaching notes and lectures for the BA and MA courses at Laban, 1970-1992 (12 files)
  • B/Notes, loose sheet music and notation scores, 1930-1980 (10 files)
  • C/Speeches, 1988-1990 (2 files)
  • D/Letters and correspondence, 1950-1992 (6 files)
  • E/Articles, 1948-1982 (7 files)
  • F/Books of music scores and Labanotation scores, 1927-1980 (12 volumes)
  • G/Dance theatre programmes and information leaflets, 1939-1992 (6 files)
  • H/Charts, c1930 (2 files)
  • J/Photographs, c1924-1992 (c124 items)
  • K/Music compilations for technique classes, compiled by Simone Michelle, c1970-1984 (38 items)

Access Information

Temporarily closed to the public.

Acquisition Information

Simone Michelle donated this collection to the Laban Archive.

Other Finding Aids

This collection is currently being catalogued on to the Laban Archive catalogue. A card index is available to search in the Laban Library and Archive.

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

Notes on appraisal have not been kept.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Some items in this Collection have been transferred from the Peter Williams Collection, also held in the Laban Archive.