The Charles Hedges Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection comprises newspaper cuttings, research notes, correspondence, memorabilia, press information, photographic prints and ephemera associated with traditional and modern ballet. Material ranges from the 1930s to the early 21st century, and often relates to dance companies founded/directed by alumni of The Royal Ballet School. It records Charles Hedges' life as a dance critic, writer, editor and project adviser in the UK and on the European Continent; in particular as an active member of institutions which supported opera and ballet, such as The Critics’ Circle, London, and the St Albans Ballet Club.

Photographs and correspondence reflect Hedges’ long associations with the Hamburg Ballet under the direction of John Neumeier, and the Netherlands Dance Theatre, under Jiří Kylián. Also with the London-based ballet company and schools 'Ballet Creations', run by Richard Slaughter and Ursula Hageli (from 1989 until 2007). Records include The Friends of Ballet Creations of London Newsletters, edited by Hedges; also Company posters, leaflets, touring schedules and photographs depicting Slaughter and Hageli in Company ballets (many based on the repertoire of Anna Pavlova).

Some newscuttings (1932-38) include some early reviews of the Vic-Wells Ballet; the first Ice Ballet (performed on ice) given at Covent Garden in 1937; reviews of visiting artists, including the Philadelphia Ballet, and the Spanish dancer, La Argentina. An incomplete scrapbook of the Vic-Wells Ballet contains rare photographs taken in performance, especially of Ashton’s The Lord of Burleigh (1931) and Le Baiser de la Fée (1935).

The collections contain annotated manuscripts (1986-2003) for several of Maria Fay’s teaching guides and theoretical writings, which were mostly edited or co-written by Hedges. These include Mind Over Body, the development of the dancer – the role of the teacher (A&C Black, London, 1997) and other manuscripts: Dancing Begins in the Brain; Character Dance – a history and my system; Great Ballets and Their Traditions (co-written with Hedges).

Material kept separately from this collection and incorporated into The Royal Ballet School reference collections includes:

  • Around 90 commercially produced dance DVDs, now placed in the School library.
  • A box of assorted programmes, also placed in the library for students to access.
  • Incorporated into the dance journals collection of The Royal Ballet School is Hedges’ incomplete series of Ballet Today, 1960-70, and an almost complete series of Dance Expression from May 1996 (1st edition) to August 2009 (some of Hedges' own reviews can be found here).
  • Lithographs from Hedges’ collection (several depicting 19th century images of key London theatres) have been incorporated into the main illustration collection of The Royal Ballet School Collections, RBS/ILL/021.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Hedges (d.o.b. not known, d. 16 June 2012) was a dance critic and commentator who wrote for a number of dance magazines, particularly Dance Expression, and several newspapers. For many years he held the position of Chairman of the dance section of The Critics’ Circle and the St Albans Ballet Club. He was also associated with the Varna International Ballet Competition from 1969-98; the company and schools known as 'Ballet Creations of London', from 1989-94; and several major European, American and Canadian dance companies. He co-wrote and edited a number of pedagogical publications (books and videos) with the ballet and character dance teacher, Maria Fay, who was a regular and guest teacher at The Royal Ballet School from the mid-1950s until the early 1990s.

Arrangement

Catalogued in nine series levels: Newspaper Cuttings, 'Ballet Creations', Research Notes, Correspondence, Memorabilia, Varna International Ballet Competition, Press Information, Papers associated with Maria Fay publications and Personal Photographic Collection.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for consultation and can be viewed by appointment only. Please contact White Lodge Museum via our website at The Royal Ballet School, White Lodge Museum http://www.royalballetschool.org.uk/the-school/museum/

Acquisition Information

Gift of David Yow, April 2013

Custodial History

The collection was bequeathed to Royal Ballet dancer and teacher David Yow, who donated it to The Royal Ballet School Collections, April 2013.