Archives can be very INSPIRATIONAL

Annie French, a part-time student in her final year on the BA in Creative Practice at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) specialising in textile design, spent a day looking at archive material with Jane Fowler, the Laban Archivist, earlier this year. Inspired by Rudolf Laban life story and dance notation scores she created these beautifully designed and embroidered epaulets which reflect the movement score of a ‘forward ocho’, which is an Argentine Tango step .


Detail of the epaulets.

Annie gives us some more background information on her project and how she came to be inspired by Rudolf Laban;

‘In year 4, I was inspired by music and movement through a local dance class that I was attending.  Having two left feet my actual dancing did not improve but I was fascinated by the energy that could be created by dance.  Looking at the work of Michael Kinder (1917-2009), a visual artist who applied mathematical rules to his work, made me think about the rules of dance. Not having a background in dance, it was by chance that I asked a colleague Anjie Taylor who is the Artistic Director of Qdos Creates, a charity that offers community workshops and performances.  She trained in dance using Labanotation in Yorkshire, Anjie recommend some books, and I was hooked.

As part of a study tour to New York earlier this year, to visit various design studios, I made an appointment to visit the Dance Notation Bureau (DNB) where they opened up their archive for me to look at some of the original dance scores, old photographs of Rudolf Laban and his students. They also introduced me to the work of Jean Kirsten, a visual artist who has been creating work in conjunction with the Laban Guild. They also loved the initial samples of embroidery that I had been working on, which they have kindly shown on their face book page.

Having researched Laban’s family background and his journey to the UK, and finding out that the Art of Movement School was started in Manchester, was enough for me to be so inspired by his work to use my research for my final piece of work last year.  The idea came from his Father being in the military, and wanting his son to have a career in the military.  Using notation, I machine embroidered the designs into epaulets and used typical military colours which hopefully express this.’

Here are a couple of photos from Annie’s studio work. Photographs by Aly Jackson.

Studio work 1 Aly Jackson.jpgStudio work 2 Aly Jackson.jpg

The final artwork was exhibited in the 2016 Unit X exhibition in Manchester and is now on display within the library & archive here at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.


Overlapping with Annie’s display the Laban archive hung three introduction panels ‘Treasures from the archive’, aimed at new students and staff  providing a tempting snap shot of the fantastic collections the Laban archive holds for their use.

Long shot 2.jpg

It seems that Annie got a lot out of her visits to a number of archives; working with their archivists and their collections. She says she is planning to write her dissertation on how the use of archive material can inspire artists to create art.

Having  Annie’s new piece of work and the archive panels on show at same time created a satisfying duality. The old inspiring the new and the new animating the old. Thank you Annie.


Exercises in Empathy: an exhibition at the Site Gallery, Sheffield 25 July – 5 September 2015


In case you are around Sheffield at the moment, there is still time to see the exhibition Exercises in Empathy at the Site Gallery featuring choreutic models, photographs and documents from the Laban Archive, pictured above. The exhibition ‘explores how the body senses objects and responds to concepts and ideas through touch and movement. Photographs, film, sculpture and archival materials show how inner and outer worlds blur into each other. Acts of repetition, mirroring and meditation are used to examine the space between sensing and knowing, doing and thinking’ (Quoted from the Site Gallery website, 2015). Sara Cluggish, the curator of the exhibition, which also features the work of Daria Martin and Ian Whittlesea, reports that it has been very well received which is great news, so catch it if you can.



All the beautiful photographs are by Julian Lister.

Archive Open Day


Entrance to the Laban Archive

We had an Archive Open Day recently where we invited all staff and students at Trinity Laban to drop in and see what lies behind the ‘archive’ door in the Laban Library and Archive.


As well as displaying an Art of Movement Studio (what the Dance Faculty was first called when established) scarf, dating from 1962, we also had a tunic donated by a former participant in Art of Movement Studio classes in the 1950s, a prospectus from when the Art of Movement Studio first opened in Manchester in the late 1940s, original drawings by Rudolf Laban donated to us by a former student of his, and of course a photograph of ‘the moustache’ as worn by a certain Anthony Bowne in the first years of Transitions Dance Company.

And as it was also Research Degree Programme week for our postgraduate students we featured two case studies demonstrating how two researchers have used the archive collections in their research.


And, as if that wasn’t enough, we also premiered a film, made by our resident AV/IT supremo Ian Peppiatt, of independent researcher Thea Barnes talking about how she began and developed her research in the Laban Archive.


So if you missed it, we hope to hold more Open Days in the new academic year so keep an eye out for updates. And in the meantime, if you want to explore your archive, have a go at searching the archive catalogue to see what we’ve got

Our Retired not Tired Dance for Health archive volunteers present…

‘A man of words’ – a glimpse into the Peter Brinson Collection.


Jane Mandlik, Ann Lewis and Hilary Ball with the Peter Brinson exhibition.

What do Prince Philip, Nina and her five hats, afternoon tea with Ninette de Valois and a napkin outlining a Marxist vision of gayness have in common? They are all feaured in our current exhibition on Peter Brinson, former Head of Postgraduate Studies at what was then the Laban Centre. Our intrepid archive volunteers have been delving into the 115 boxes of the Peter Brinson Collection held in the Laban Archive, sorting and listing as they go. They have chosen their favourite items from their boxes for the display, which is up outside the Laban Library and Archive in the Creekside building until the end of the week. Take a look

Laban Building at Creekside 10th anniversary exhibition

Time is nearly up to catch the Laban Building at Creekside’s 10th anniversary exhibition. So if you think you are going to miss it, have at look at what you missed!


Ian Peppiatt, our amazing IT/AV advisor, has curated a multimedia show of clips, photographs and interviews tracing the construction and launch of our beautiful building designed by Herzog & de Meuron.


And we are displaying some objects from the archive including an architectural model of the building which is remarkably similar to the actual full-scale one!

The exhibition is currently on display outside the Laban Library and Archive in the Laban Building at Creekside. It comes down on Wed 20 November so hurry if you want to see it!

The Historical Projects in the Laban Library and Archive

The Laban Library and Archive have put together a display of items that contextualise the Historical Project performances being performed by the second year BA(Hons) Contemporary Dance students on Thursday 13 June and Friday 14 June in the Bonnie Bird Theatre at Laban. Items displayed include photographs of works by Lea Anderson choreographed for Transitions Dance Company, the work of Steve Paxton and fellow experimental choreographers Douglas Dunn and David Gordon, works by Martha Graham from the early 1930s and works by Richard Alston which form the basis of a new work being performed by the students. Alongside the photographs is a compilation video of clips from the last ten years of Historical Project performances at Laban. The display is at the top of the ramp in the Laban Building at Creekside until Monday 17 June. Come and have a look!Image