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TitleThe Laban Collection
DescriptionPhotocopies, with some originals, of personal papers, notation scores, photographs, flyers, dance theatre programmes, drawings, articles, notebooks, press cuttings, correspondence, lectures, oral history interviews, videos, transcripts, manuscripts and official records of Rudolf Laban and his associates in Germany in the 1920s-1930s and in England in the 1930s-1950s.
Extent and medium28 boxes
Level of descriptionFonds
Creator namePreston-Dunlop; Valerie Morthland (fl 1948-2012); Dr; dance educationalist and scholar
Administrative historyRudolf Laban was a teacher, philosopher, dancer, choreographer, author, experimentor and the father of modern dance. He raised the status of dance as an art form and transformed the nature of dance scholarship. He established the discipline of dance analysis and invented a system of dance notation called Labanotation. He defined the idea of community dance and valued its contribution to man's wellbeing. He set out to reform the role of dance education, emphasising his belief that dance should be for all. He also laid the technical basis for professional movement and dance therapy and for the expressive movement training of actors. Laban was born in Bratislava but lived in many places throughout Europe during his life. He arrived in Britain in 1938 as a refugee from Nazi Germany and by 1948 had set up the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester. The Studio moved to Addlestone in Surrey in 1953, eventually becoming the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in 1975 and moving to New Cross, London. Rudolf Laban died in 1958. Laban the institution moved into its new building in Deptford, London in 2003 and merged with Trinity College of Music in 2005. An entry for Rudolf Laban can be found in the 'Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,' Oxford University Press, 2004.

A history of the Art of Movement Studio/Laban Centre for Movement and Dance can be found in Willson, F.M.G. (1997). In Just Order Move: The progress of the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance 1946-1996. London, England: The Athlone Press, and in Thornton, S. (1971). Studio 25. Addlestone: Art of Movement Studio.
Archival historyThe Laban Collection was compiled by Dr Valerie Preston-Dunlop in the 1980s specifically for the use of students at Laban and dance researchers in the UK. It consists mainly of copies of material held by private individuals and public archive bodies in Europe. Some items are original.
Conditions governing accessNo restrictions on access apply.
Conditions governing copyingThe majority of this Collection can not be copied. The Archivist can advise on individual items.
AccrualsThis Collection is added to selectively on an irregular basis.
Appraisal notesDuplicate items have been weeded.
System of arrangementThe Collection was originally catalogued whilst being sorted in preparation for being copied on to microfiche. As a result it was catalogued at item level only. The Collection is now being recatalogued according to ISAD(G) and sorted into the following series:

A Photographs of Rudolf Laban and his associates, c1879-1958
B Papers of and relating to Rudolf Laban and his associates, 1875-2000
C Papers and publications of the Art of Movement Studio and the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance, c1947-1996
D Papers and publications of the Laban Art of Movement Guild, c1940-1985
E Audio material, 1980-2004
F Moving image material, 1980-1989
G Slides, c1930-1965
Existence and location of originalsThe original items are held at various public and private archives throughout Europe. Where possible this information is included on the archive catalogue.
Related publicationThe following work uses the Laban Collection extensively: Preston-Dunlop, Valerie (1998). Rudolf Laban: An extraordinary life. London: Dance Books.
Related materialThe National Resource Centre for Dance at the University of Surrey holds a Rudolf Laban Collection mainly covering the period 1938-1958. An online catalogue is available to search on their website at

The John Hodgson Collection at Leeds University Library holds photographs, posters, drawings and correspondence of Rudolf Laban. A handlist is available on their website at

Correspondence, papers and photographs concerning Rudolf Laban's time at Dartington Hall can be found in the Dartington Archive on their online catalogue available to search at

Further material relating to Rudolf Laban and his work can be found at the Tanzarchiv Leipzig e.V. The Dance Notation Bureau, New York holds some Labanotation by Rudolf Laban. The Centre national de la danse in Paris holds Labanotation in the Albrecht Knust Archive.
TermModern dance History 20th century
Choreography - reconstruction
Modern dance Great Britain
Modern dance
Contemporary dance
Movement education
Modern dance Germany
Choreographers Great Britain Biography
AccessFormatSome items are on CD-R, VHS and DVD-R.

Show related Persons records.

CodePerson/Org Name
DS/UK/1Laban; Rudolf Jean-Baptiste Attila (1879-1958); Dancer, choreographer and dance movement theoretician
DS/UK/34Preston-Dunlop; Valerie Morthland (fl 1948-2012); Dr; dance educationalist and scholar
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