Happy endings

Our 'Retired not Tired' Dance for Health archiving group hard at work

Our ‘Retired not Tired’ Dance for Health archiving group comprising Jane Mandlik, Gill James, Hilary Ball and Ann Lewis, hard at work.

So we have come to the end of term and our hard working volunteers are finally having a bit of a breather. They have been working extremely hard with amazing results!

Ann with her empty box

Ann Lewis finishes listing her box of Peter Brinson material.

Sara and her finished box2

Sara Manazza finishes cataloguing her box of photographs of small dance companies in the UK covering the dates 1898-2002, from the Peter Williams Collection held in the Laban Archive

And have found some really interesting things on the way …

Gill James and a Ballet for All programme

Gill James and a Ballet for All flyer advertising the first ever time that members of the Royal Ballet and the Martha Graham Company performed together on the same stage, at the Theatre Royal, Stratford. Held in the Peter Brinson Collection in the Laban Archive.

Extract from a programme of the Young Playhouse Association where a certain David Bowie was performing in 1967 in

Extract from a programme of the Young Playhouse Association where a certain David Bowie was performing in 1967 in a work by Lindsay Kemp. Held in the Peter Brinson Collection in the Laban Archive.

Printed manuscript with corrections  of 'The Romantic Ballet in Paris' by Ivor Guest, a standard work for dance historians, first published in 1966. This manuscript is dated 1965. Held in the Peter Brinson collection in the Laban Archive.

Printed manuscript, with corrections, of ‘The Romantic Ballet in Paris’ by Ivor Guest, a standard work for dance historians, first published in 1966. This manuscript is dated 1965. Held in the Peter Brinson Collection in the Laban Archive.

These items will soon appear on our Laban Archive catalogue – have a browse to see what else we have!

New archive boxes for Transitions Dance Company Archive


Sara Manazza, one of our fantastic archive volunteers in the Laban Archive has been very busy lately constructing 105 flat pack archive boxes. She has been transferring the administrative papers of Transitions Dance Company into them, taking out old paper clips and staples and replacing them with brass ones as she goes. All Sara’s work will help to preserve the Transitions Dance Company archive for future students and researchers to use.  If you would like to see what we have in the archive, have a search of the archive catalogue or come and see us. And if you would like to help Sara in the archive, contact us at Archivist@trinitylaban.ac.uk

“She felt the air with her skin” – Notes from the archive

Gill James, a member of our scholarly ‘Retired not Tired’ archive volunteer team, found the following quote in a letter from John Steer to Peter Brinson. It mentions a conversation he was having with Anne Dorothea Hewer (nee Hiatt), former chairperson of what was to become the Scottish Ballet. She was having dinner with the choreographer Antony Tudor and she asked him what he thought was so special about Isadora Duncan:

‘Physicality’, he said. ‘She felt the air with her skin’

And Jane Mandlik, also from our volunteer team, found the following quote from John Locke, quoted by Peter Brinson in notes he was making for a book:

‘Dancing, being that which gives graceful motions all the life and, above all things, manliness and a becoming confidence to young children, I think cannot be learned too early … Nothing appears to me to give children so much confidence and behaviour, and so to raise them to the conversation of those above their years, as dancing.’

These and many more papers can be found in the Peter Brinson Collection, currently being listed by our volunteers and being made available on our catalogue – have a browse!

Transitions Dance Company performance archive goes live!

Genny Steccone, Laban archive volunteer, has spent the past three months uploading VHS and DVD recordings of performances by Transitions Dance Company, Trinity Laban’s in-house dance company, on to the video-streaming site available in the Laban library. Here she describes what she has been doing:

I have been involved in a project focused on the digitisation of all the performances of Transitions Dance Company. The Company was founded in 1982 by Bonnie Bird (1914-1995) who was Artistic Director until her death. The principal aim of the Company was, and continues to be, bringing together well known choreographers with skilled young dancers and bridging the gap between training and the profession of being a dancer.

The first part of my commitment was recording all the performances, avoiding any possible future damage to the format, considering that most of them are on VHS and the more recent ones on DVD. Planet eStream is the software which we worked with. It is fast and easy to use, and indeed after recording the content, the results are immediately available on the Trinity Laban website to students and staff who log in on-site. We have one video for each year from 1983 to 2007. Every video consists of about five or six choreographic works recorded during a performance. The programme of the show includes information about the choreographers, dancers, music, costume designers, lighting designers for every choreographic work and the order of appearance of the works for each performance. However the order on the programme has not always been the same as that on the recording. Therefore the first issue has been to recognize each choreographic work, and verify and find the right order. There are different ways to approach this. The musical score has often been the more intuitive resource, so I have just searched for the tune or the artist mentioned in the programme. However sometimes there is no score or it is not recognisable.

Another useful way to gather information has been through the comparison of the recording with the folders of photographs of Transitions Dance Company, held in the archive. The folders contain pictures of different entities: portraits of dancers, snap-shots from workshops, from journeys in foreign countries, and from the performances themselves, so in some cases I was able to identify the performance from the costumes or choreography. Occasionally we have been able to insert audio or video interviews with the choreographer about the creation of their work. It is an inspirational chance to gain an insight into individual artistic patterns for students and for researchers.

The purposes of this project are to make these resources available, accessible and as user-friendly as possible, to encourage other companies to deposit records about their artistic work at the Laban Archive, and to allow the choreographers and the dancers themselves to review their work.

If you would like to see what Genny has been doing, log on to the video-streaming site available at http://video.trinitylaban.ac.uk and search for Transitions. Access to view Transitions performances is only available in the Laban Library and Archive but some of the interviews with guest choreographers can be viewed online by everyone – just click on the Log-in as guest link. If you spot any information that needs correcting or can identify any works which we haven’t been able to, then do get in touch – we would be glad to hear from you! 


Photograph of Genny Steccone adding Transitions Dance Company performance recordings to the video-streaming site in the Laban Library and Archive, Creekside, London

Volunteer archiving group in the Laban Archive

For the past six months or so an intrepid group of members of the ‘Retired Not Tired’ dance for health class have been volunteering in the Laban Archive every Tuesday afternoon. They have been working on the Peter Brinson Collection. Peter Brinson was head of postgraduate studies at Laban in the 1980s and before that had been the director of Ballet for All which took ballet out into the provinces of the UK to new audiences. The plucky volunteers are sorting through the 114 boxes of the collection, taking out staples and adding brass paperclips, rehousing the collection in new folders and boxes, and listing the contents of the boxes. The lists are being added to the Laban Archive catalogue (see http://calm.trinitylaban.ac.uk/calmview/) so that everyone can see what is in the collection and so it can be used by students and researchers. Take a look! and if you fancy trying your hand at volunteering in the archive, contact the Archivist at archivist@trinitylaban.ac.uk


This photograph features from left to right Sheila Hartley, Ann Lewis, Gill James, Hilary Ball and Ian Russell in the Laban building, Creekside, London