Chris Ha/Harris Dance Photographs

Scope and Content

Collection of photographic negatives of New Dance in Britain between 1976-1986.

Administrative / Biographical History

Chris Harris, known in Australia as Chris Ha was involved with Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, as graphic designer almost from its opening. He also served as resident photographer and quickly became interested in photographing dance when Riverside's Director, Peter Gill, invited Rosemary Butcher to teach and perform there. He was based at Riverside when Dance Umbrella began in 1978 using Riverside as one of its principle venues. Chris did not confine himself to photographing dance at Hammersmith but also Chisendale Dance Space, The Place, the ICA and the Almeida as well as Dartington College in Devon and site-specific locations in Europe. Chris documented the first decade of Dance Umbrella.

As Val Bourne, founding Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella, wrote in the introduction to the catalogue for Chris Harris Dance Photographer 1976-1986:

"Chris' definition of dance was all embracing. He could see choreography in the flight of birds, in the constellation of stars in the night sky and the lights in Leicester Square... His enthusiasm for life and dance was contagious and he was exceedingly generous both with his time and his talent, often foregoing a fee is he suspected the artist had even less money than he. For the dancers, Chris was a fellow artist who shared their passion and there were in ease in front of his camera."

In the late 1980s Chris moved to Australia where he died from cancer, aged 42, in Perth in 1994.

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.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Val Bourne.


SeeChris Harris Dance Photographer 1976-1986 V&A, 2003

Dance Umbrella - The First 21 Years Dance Books, 2001

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

This collection is organised in 6 boxes: 5 boxes of negatives (THM/304/1/1-123) and 1 box of contact prints (THM/304/2/1-8).

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.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Chris was one of a trio of photographers who documented the dancers appearing at Dance Umbrella and contributing to New Dance in Britain. His successors are Chris Nash and Hugo Glendinning.

The V&A also holds photographs by Chris Nash as well as material relating to Dance Umbrella, about dance companies and artists Chris photographed and the venues at which they worked.