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Within the Archives and Special Collections at the University of Surrey you can explore over 60 collections of archives and rare books. Share the personal journey of Ernest Howard Shepard. Explore the varied collections of the National Resource Centre for Dance (NRCD) and unravel the connections between dance; theatre studies; industry; psychology and movement therapy unlocking the personal papers of pioneers in the performing arts. Investigate the rich institutional collections of Battersea Polytechnic and the University of Surrey, delve into papers and correspondence from key decision makers and catch glimpses into the student experience. Read on to discover more about these unique collections and please do contact us if you are curious about our archives.

Angika Dance Company Archive

The Angika Dance Company was founded in 1997 by Mayuri Boonham and Subathra Subramaniam and focused on the classical Indian dance style of Bharatanatyam, providing a contemporary twist but avoiding fusion. In 1998 Angika were selected to perform in the City of London Festival ‘Around the World in 18 Days’, where they represented India. Shortly after this inspiring performance they became the first South Asian Associate Artists at The Place Theatre, where they remained until 1999. Angika created numerous original dance pieces, performing and touring in both the UK and Europe throughout their existence.  In 2003 Angika were selected to participate in a week long residency during which they were commissioned to develop Urban Temple to be performed at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Later that year they attended an intensive choreographic laboratory under Jonathon Burrows. Between 2004 and 2006 Angika were the Choreographers in Residence at The Place. The Company disbanded in 2008 to enable the founders to pursue solo careers.

The Angika Archive unites performance footage, promotional and publicity materials with the financial, personnel and administrative records for the Company, offering a full representation of a small dance company. The Archive features documents detailing the grant opportunities applied for and obtained by Angika offering a valuable insight into the funding of dance companies, and how these opportunities evolved during Angika’s ten year lifespan. Additionally, the Archive contains detailed schedules and plans for Angika’s many tours, including contracts with a variety of venues, audience figures and proposed budgets, these records serve to highlight the meticulous planning which accompanies a dance company on tour.

Piece together performances of Bhakti (2004-2006), Ether (2006), Cypher (2007) and Pulse of Tala (2001) and unravel the traditional Indian myths within the contemporary performances.

What will you discover?

Battersea Polytechnic Archive

Founded in 1891 Battersea College of Technology, later Battersea Polytechnic Institute was the founding institution of University of Surrey. Its initial aims were part of a concern to provide greater access to further and higher education for the ‘poorer inhabitants’ of London. The Polytechnic was founded under a scheme of the City of London Parochial Charities Act of 1883. Funding also came from the London County Council, the Government’s Board of Education and from the City of London Livery Companies. Considerable sums were raised in Southwark and Battersea by private subscription, particularly generous were Sir Henry Tate and his son Edwin. Sir Henry Tate was the sugar magnate who founded the company Tate & Lyle and also gave his name to the Tate Gallery.


The foundation stone of the college was laid by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) on 20 July 1891 on the site of the Albert Exhibition Palace, Battersea. Battersea was the first London polytechnic to be purpose built and it duly opened its doors to the first intake of students 8 January 1894. The formal opening ceremony was again attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales and their two daughters, Princesses Victoria and Maud. (Maud was destined to be the future Queen of Norway) The aim of the Polytechnic came out of a Victorian recognition that rapid industrial development would lead to a greater demand for skills in these newly discovered industries and commerce.  Therefore the Polytechnic's aim was to teach technical subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, and Engineering, and attracted over 2400 students in its first year.

Battersea also began to be known for its advanced work, with students having the opportunity to continue their studies to degree level conferred by the University of London; this development became possible due to the calibre of the academic staff of the Polytechnic who became recognised teachers of their specialist subjects.

The reputation of the Polytechnic was such that in 1956 it was one of 6 institutions awarded the status of College of Advanced Technology and in recognition of this it changed its name in the following year to Battersea College of Technology.  Following the Robbins report on Higher Education in 1963, the colleges of Advanced Technology including Battersea were designated as Technological Universities with degree awarding powers.  Full university status was achieved by Battersea when it became known as the University of Surrey with the grant of a Royal Charter on 9 September 1966.

Student numbers grew throughout the early 20th Century and the Polytechnic continued to add to its facilities to accommodate the students and their studies – new laboratories, a new west wing, a refectory and needlework room. In its early years the Polytechnic developed a strong technical reputation under its first Principal Sidney Wells. The first chairman of the governors was Edwin Tate who provided the funding for a Library, known as the Tate Library and which was officially opened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1910. Tate also provided the funding for a large concert organ in the Great Hall.

Further extensions to the buildings were opened in 1929 and 1954 and on both occasions the patron of the Polytechnic, Princess Mary, who was the daughter of King George V, performed the official opening ceremonies.  The continued demand for expansion and new facilities proved difficult due to the restricted nature of the Battersea Road site.  As time went on the Polytechnic simply got too large for its premises in Battersea which is when the search for new premises started and the move to Guildford began.


In our archives you can discover the rich history of Battersea Polytechnic, from its foundation, to the move to Guildford. Discover what life was like at the institution during World War One and World War Two, delve into our fascinating record of student publications and understand what it was like to be a student in the early days,- when smoking, dancing and alcohol were prohibited.  Can you imagine that in today’s University?

Read our blog to learn more about this fascinating collection

 


What will you discover?

British Guild of Travel Writers Archive

Formed in 1960 the British Guild of Travel Writers is an organisation of authors who write on the subject of travel, including those who compose guide books, writers of travel literature, journalists and photographers – it is the leading association based in the UK for those working in travel media. The chances are if you have read a magazine or newspaper article on travel then it was produced by a member of the Guild. The Guild is completely independent of any tourist boards or tour operators, meaning their work is not influenced by any outside individuals.

Since its formation the business of travel has changed dramatically as well including the methods of communicating about travel in the media, the Guild has had to face these changes and developments head on and this is reflected in the archive.

Within the archives you can discover more about the Guild from its formation to the present day, exploring the committee minutes; administrative papers including the Guild Constitution and Code of Conduct; membership records and correspondence; yearbooks and newsletters; members’ memoirs and obituaries; papers relating to Guild awards and social and educational events and audio-visual material.  These records show the development of the Guild from a fairly small body through to being the British professional travel writer’s association.  ‘We Were Here’ the booklet produced for the Guild’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2010 concisely maps the changed experienced and reported on by Guild members – from the rise of the Spanish Costas, 747s, Concorde and budget airlines; the Channel Tunnel; skiing, backpacking and adventure holidays; self-catering and timeshares; disruption to travel through weather or terrorism and the effect of the economy on travel with increased ‘stay-cationing’ in these difficult times.

Within the archives can be found the papers of James Holloway who was a member of the Guild, it comprises of his files of material in preparation for articles submitted to various newspapers and magazines; photographs; travel information leaflets and brochures mostly arranged according to place and spanning 1935-1996.  From these articles you can get a sense of travelling around the whole of the UK from Western Scotland via Yorkshire and Blackpool to Dover; from St David’s via Bath to walking tours in London.  There are articles on destinations in Europe, such as Germany, Italy, Spain and Croatia and wider afield like Morocco, West Indies and India, as well as information on cruises and articles from American and Canadian newspapers on tourist trends and destinations.  The papers illustrate the life of an active travel journalist through a very interesting period in the history of travel and tourism and travel writing.

This material, gifted to the University Archives by the Guild in 2008 is a fascinating collection which has research potential for a broad range of academic disciplines: Travel and Tourism, Literature and Language, Photography, and Media to name a few.

Read our blog to discover more about this fascinating collection


What will you discover?

Dalcroze Society Archive

Dalcroze Eurhythmics is a well-established method for teaching musicianship and performance for a range of age groups and abilities in a wide variety of music education, dance, drama and therapy contexts. It is a practical mode of learning, focusing on whole body movement, and aural training using singing and improvisation. Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950) introduced his method of teaching music through movement at the beginning of the twentieth century. 

The Dalcroze Society archive contains material created by the Dalcroze Society, now called Dalcroze UK, dating from 1915 to 2014 and includes publications; theatre programmes, news clippings, music scores, and photographs; minutes, accounts, calendars of events, correspondence, presentations, records of professional training courses; students records; contracts, legacies and deeds, and membership records. There are also 200 books written by and about Jaques-Dalcroze and his method, including periodicals produced by the Society, most notably the Journal of the Dalcroze Society (1930-2003).

The London School of Dalcroze Eurhythmics was established in 1913 by Percy Ingham to offer professional qualifications and training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Almost all the early records of the School were lost or destroyed because of the upheavals of two wars, and the total destruction of the School’s building in the 1940s. Therefore, the material that has survived as part of the Dalcroze Society archive is of vital historical importance to understand fully the teaching of Dalcroze Eurhythmics in the UK. Evidence of eminent personalities from the world of music and education can be found in the archive. For example Sir Henry Hadow was the first President of the Dalcroze Society of Great Britain and on his retirement Sir George Dyson, then Principal of the Royal College of Music, became President.

Dalcroze UK and the Dalcroze School are both still operating, although there is no longer a physical school, making this very much a ‘living’ archive with new materials contributing to and updating an ever-growing collection.

The Dalcroze Society archive has the potential to unite a broad range of academic disciplines: music education, music psychology, musicology, dance and somatic practices, to name a few. Exploration of the archive could inspire a host of potential research areas: the connections between music, dance and theatre in the early years of the twentieth-century; the development of rhythmic gymnastics and its relation to the cult of the body; the Hellenisation of music education; the development of the movement side of Dalcroze’s method by other teachers. Research ideas like these and more are just waiting to be unravelled using this archive. The Archive links to other collections held by the National Resource Centre for Dance at the University of Surrey. Rudolf Laban’s pupils and colleagues including Suzanne Perrottet, Mary Wigman, Louise Soelberg, and Beryl de Zoete were all trained in Dalcroze Eurhythmics at Jaques-Dalcroze’s school at Hellerau. Similarly, Madge Atkinson was influenced in her teaching by Jaques-Dalcroze and with whom she shared similar aesthetic principles.  

What might you discover in the Dalcroze Society Archive?

E. H. Shepard Archive

Born on 10 December 1879 Ernest Howard Shepard, MC, OBE was to become one of the 20th century’s most well-known black-and-white illustrators in the Victorian tradition. His iconic drawings of Pooh Bear and of Mole; Ratty; Toad and Badger through collaboration with two of the greats of children’s literature, A.A. Milne and Kenneth Graham are recognized and loved worldwide. His sense of humour has been enjoyed and is remembered by many through his topical cartoons the products of a long career working for Punch magazine.

However were you aware of his time spent as an Officer in the Royal Artillery during World War 1 or as a member of the Surrey Home Guard during World War 2? Insight into the man behind the drawings can be discovered within our captivating collection of personal correspondence; business papers; family photographs; and original artwork. Childhood drawings on the back of school homework show evidence of his early talent as an artist. While being an Officer in the trenches did not stop him producing illustrations for Punch and other magazines nor from writing to his wife almost daily about his comrades and his travels, bringing his words to life for her and now us with illustrations and self-portraits surviving in thousands of letters within the archive.

Mr Shepard had life-long connections to Surrey, and Guildford in particular, which led him to generously donate the majority of his fascinating personal papers in 1974. We feel privileged to be the custodians to this wonderful collection and to be able to share with you new and exciting discoveries from his archive.

What might you discover?

Enid Platt Collection of the Manchester Dance Circle

Enid Platt (1918 - 2003) began to develop her studies in dance after the Second World War, attending weekly evening classes at the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester. Enid worked with Lisa Ullmann to further her understanding of the importance of Movement, and she later attended Homerton College, Cambridge to undertake the Third Year Physical Education Course where she was taught by Betty Meredith-Jones. Enid worked in the North West and Manchester as a teacher, trainer and examiner for the Keep Fit Association.

Enid was invited to be co-director of the Manchester Dance Circle, which had been founded by Bodmer in 1946, and she later took over the running of the Dance Circle after Sylvia became unwell. Enid continued to be an active teacher for the Manchester Dance Circle into her eighties.

The Enid Platt Collection brings you a world of books focused on the subjects of Rudolf Laban, Movement and the teaching of dance. Additionally to explore, there are photograph albums, committee minutes, leaflets and posters from the Manchester Dance Circle dating from the 1940s to the 1990s, as well as conference papers, booklets and journals collected by Enid throughout her career.

This collection forms part of our hub of Laban Archives and you may wish to discover more about Enid and her work through the Lisa Ullmann Archive and the Betty Meredith-Jones Archive to name but a few.

What will you discover?

Harlequin Ballet Company Archive

In 1949 John Gregory, (1914-1996) and Barbara Vernon (Gregory), (1918-2007) opened their ballet school: The School of Russian Ballet. The school had a strong emphasis on the traditional Russian ballet style as taught by Nicolai Legat, (1869-1937) and his wife Nadine Nicolaeva-Legat, (1895-1971). In 1959 John Gregory and Barbara Vernon founded the Harlequin Ballet Company using dancers that had been trained in their school, in order to demonstrate and engage with the Russian ballet style. The company’s rather unconventional aim was to tour the small towns of Great Britain, taking ballet to audiences who had not previously experienced such performances, performing in school halls, village halls, cathedrals, and theatres, showcasing Classical, Romantic, modern, and folk dances. The Gregorys choreographed many of the dances performed by the company but works by leading guest choreographers such as Anton Dolin, (1904-1983), Tamara Karsavina, (1885-1978) and Alexander Roy, (b.1937) were also toured. 

Harlequin Dance Company Limited was the umbrella body that included Harlequin Ballet Company and the School of Russian Ballet. In order to receive Arts Council funding, in 1964, Harlequin Dance Company Limited became Harlequin Ballet Company Trust, with Lady Eleanor Campbell-Orde as Chairman. At the same time they changed the name of the school to Harlequin Ballet School. When Arts Council funding was withdrawn completely in 1968 the Harlequin Ballet School and Company were forced to close.

Explore the Harlequin Ballet Company Archive to discover an abundance of flyers and posters from Harlequin ballet tours, delve into the correspondence of John Gregory, and unravel the complexities of Dance Company funding. Discover beautiful costume designs and photographs of dancers and performances some of which took place in unusual circumstances after World War II.

What will you discover?

Kokuma Dance Theatre Archive

Bob Ramdhani’s aim was to make “African dance more accessible to a wider community and to encourage the development of positive attitudes to dance and movement based on African technique”. Who better to make this happen than he; from his roots in Trinidad and his move to Britain in the 60s, from working in the probation service to inspiring local youths with informal drumming and dance sessions, Ramdhani was well placed to achieve his goal.

Founded by Ramdhani in Handsworth, Birmingham in the late 1970s, Kokuma originally started out with the intriguing name of Mystics and the Israelites as a result of the informal drumming and dance sessions. Small scale touring on a voluntary basis followed yet commitment difficulties led to the eventual disbanding of the company. Ramdhani refused to give up and went on to rename the group the Kokuma Dance Theatre Company.

In the wake of riots in Handsworth and across Britain, Kokuma became the resident dance company for Unemployed Youth Activities, a community based group offering a range of activities in the Lozells and Handsworth areas of Birmingham. Derrick Anderson joined the company as a dancer in the early 1980s and when Bob Ramdhani left in 1982 he became informal artistic director. A name change to Kokuma Performing Arts and a merge with youth dance company Sankufa followed, to form a group of over twenty vivacious performers. Throughout the 1980s the company performed and toured, collaborating with the Birmingham based Caribbean dance company Watu Wazuri. Jackie Guy, from The National Dance Theatre of Jamaica, joined the company as guest choreographer and in 1988 became the company’s artistic director.

The 1990s saw a series of awards and accolades and a change in artistic director in Patrick Acogny. Touring and collaborations with other dance companies’ continued, as well as educational projects as the group never forgot their roots in Birmingham. However, in 2000, Kokuma’s board of directors and its funding body (West Midland Arts) believed failure to recruit senior level management would have affected the quality of future projects and tours and unfortunately the company chose to close rather than to decline steadily, marking the end of the vibrant, positive and socially aware dance group.

Nevertheless, with video footage, photographs, contact sheets and administrative papers of the company, the legacy of Bob Ramdhani and Kokuma can continue in our Archives. As it’s translation from the Yoruba dictates “this one will never die”.

What will you discover?

Laban Guild Archive

Lisa Ullmann (1907-1985), and Sylvia Bodmer (1902-1989), founded the Laban Art of Movement Guild (now known as The Laban Guild for Movement and Dance) in 1945. The Guild was established to educate people about Rudolf Laban’s innovative theories on human movement and the significance of movement through dance.  To this day the Guild tirelessly teach and promote Laban’s ideas in a very broad range of fields including; dance theatre, mastery of movement for actors, community dance, movement and dance therapy, personal growth and development, dance in education, dance notation and action profiling.

These ideas are relayed to its members through a range of conferences, courses and publications. In the early days of the Guild the main events were the annual conference and the weekend refresher course, but over time an unrelenting demand for more content has led to a larger variety of events.  The Guild now leads courses aimed at a variety of different levels, ranging from Foundation level to Dance Leaders or Professional Development Courses, as well as courses aimed at children of different age ranges. The call for these courses, conferences and annual events shows the depth of response to the Guild’s continued work in promoting Laban’s methods, almost 70 years since it was founded.

Over the years a truly diverse collection of dance experts involved in the world of Laban have been President of the Guild. From Rudolf Laban himself, to his partner Lisa Ullmann as well as his former pupil Warren Lamb, the current President is Anna Carlisle MBE. In the mid-1990s, two members of the guild, Sheila McGivering and Anna Carlisle, donated their papers to the NRCD, thus establishing the Laban Guild Archive.

The archive covers the Laban Guild's activities from its foundation in 1945. The collection consists of administrative papers covering the main aspects of the work of the Guild. The collection includes several highlights such as letters to educational bodies from the Guild seeking to promote dance through a General Certificate of Education, rarely seen manuscripts, drawings, and photographs of the guild’s first magazine Movement (of which there were only two issues published in 1948) as well as complete runs of both the Laban Guild Magazine (published 1948-1991, numbers 1-80) and the current periodical Movement, Dance and Drama.

This archive gives an insight into both pioneering work of Rudolf Laban a man who many proclaim to be the father of modern dance, as well as the continuing legacy, teachings and established community that has arisen in the form of The Laban Guild for Movement and Dance. Therefore this collection is both a reflection on the past of dance and a glimpse into its future, explore the collection and see what wonderful things you could discover today.

Lilla Bauer Archive

Lilla Seiber, née Bauer, (1912-2011), first caught the attention of the public whilst dancing with Death in Kurt Jooss’s masterpiece The Green Table – a politically charged statement on the futility of war, choreographed in the 1930s but no less pertinent today. Critics regarded her portrayal of the Young Girl as ‘glowing’ and ‘outstanding’, and she continued to tour Europe and the USA with the Ballet Jooss until the onset of World War II impelled them to emigrate to the UK. Lilla gave one last solo recital in her native city of Budapest, in 1938, to a full capacity audience. Her performance drew rave reviews: describing her as a ‘young woman of beautiful figure, lovely face, [a] gifted artist of great intelligence…’.  The many photographs of Lilla in motion that survive in her archive: some on stage, in many others dancing freely outdoors allow you a glimpse of this “gifted artist”.


On arrival in England, she and her fellow dancers were given refuge at Dartington Hall in Devon. It was here Rudolf Laban  arrived in 1938, to reunite with his former pupil Jooss. Lilla became well acquainted with Laban: she studied with him and went on to teach Labanotation. The archive preserves the continued friendship of Lila and Laban through sketches that he made of her and correspondence they had.  He also carried out a personality profile in 1946 on Lilla, and he ascribed to Lilla ‘warmth, exuberance, agitation, rapture, fervency, pathos and lyricism’.


Towards the end of WWII, Lilla was appointed as a Lecturer of Modern Dance at Goldsmiths’ College, London, teaching Art of Movement and training other potential teachers. She was also a CSE Dance Moderator for the East Anglian board in the 1970s before her retirement, and appeared as a guest speaker or teacher at various educational dance events. A lifelong love of learning saw her complete a diploma at the Froebel Educational Institute in 1966, and the archive preserves her dissertation: ‘The Sense of Achievement Derived from Creative Practices in Drama and Movement – with Some Reference to Painting and Pottery – by Children in the Junior School’.


What might you discover in the Lilla Bauer Archive ?

Natural Movement Archive

What do over a thousand music scores, a beautiful collection of original 1920s and 30s costumes, an inspiring two thousand photographs of dancers and their performances, and a vast collection of annotated theatre programmes, newspaper clippings, studio shots, posters and manuscripts (to mention just a small selection) have in common? They are all part of the Natural Movement Archive, the collection donated to the University of Surrey in 1989 by Anita Heyworth (1906-1991).

Natural Movement was a method of barefoot dance founded by teacher and choreographer Madge Atkinson (1885-1970). Influenced by two of her contemporaries, Isadora Duncan and Emile Jaques-Dalcroze and inspired by nature and folk forms, Atkinson’s technique emphasised a harmonious use of the body.  Simple actions such as running and balancing were used to create a lyrical style. Dancing barefoot enabled freedom and flow in the dance and the technique highlighted the natural lines of the body through these basic actions. Rhythm is an important element of the technique and improvisation to music was especially key to her work. Atkinson also favoured the use of accessories such as scarves and hoops to further emphasise the lines and patterns made by the dancing body.

Atkinson opened her school of Natural Movement in Manchester in 1918 and throughout the 20s and 30s developed her classes and choreography. Her programmes were introduced to many leading schools across England, with pupils going on to both perform and teach internationally. Atkinson herself toured South Africa in 1938, conducting examinations and giving lectures on her method.

An especially interesting element of Natural Movement is its suitability for children of all ages, even babies. Atkinson’s article “Composing dances for the tiny child” (The Dance Journal, vol. IX, no. 2, June 1937, pp.95-96) illustrates this beautifully; the ability to structure comparatively simple techniques paired with a child’s natural imagination and expressiveness leads to “pure joy of movement” and a lifelong love of dance and music.

Amongst many wonderful artefacts are original costumes; outfits from “The Moth” and “Danse Sacre et Profane” are just two examples of over two hundred pieces of costume which bring colour to the Natural Movement performances. Excitingly many of these costumes have name tags stitched in to them hinting at the identity of the original performer – a wonderful addition that brings to life the history of individual items.

The content and extent of this archive reflects the commitment Madge Atkinson and Anita Heyworth, her friend and professional partner, had to the preservation and development of the Natural Movement technique throughout their lives. The result is an inspiring collection that wonderfully portrays the joy and beauty of dance for future generations to discover.

What will you discover in the Natural Movement Archive?

Pauline Hodgens Collection

Pauline Hodgens (born 10 May 1941 in Gateshead, Tyneside; died 2 July 1988 in Guildford, Surrey) was a teacher and lecturer in physical education and dance, with a particular interest in aesthetics, dance appreciation and criticism.

Hodgens gained her teaching qualification in 1961 at Southlands College of Education (Wimbledon), where she studied physical education (including dance) and religious studies. After qualifying as a teacher at Southlands, she taught for three years before taking a one-year supplementary course at Chelsea College of Physical Education, which was followed by a further year’s teaching in school. In 1969, she spent six months in India studying transcendental meditation, becoming a qualified teacher in this area. In 1976, she gained a BA in General Arts from Open University and, in 1978 an MA in Physical Education at the University of Leeds, focusing on the aesthetic aspects of PE. Her PhD research at the University of Leeds was accepted for an MPhil, and she was working on revisions to resubmit the thesis for a doctorate when she died in 1988.

Initially teaching physical education in schools, Hodgens moved into lecturing on the physical education programmes of teacher training colleges. From 1974 to 1979, she was a Senior Lecturer on the B.Ed Physical Education at Nonington College of Physical Education. From 1983 to 1987, she lectured on the dance degrees at both the University of Surrey and Roehampton Institute, where she was appointed Senior Lecturer in Dance Studies in 1987. At the University of Surrey, she was jointly responsible for developing the Dance Analysis and Criticism course on the MA Dance Studies, and she contributed to summer schools and weekend courses on dance appreciation run by the National Resource Centre for Dance.

The Pauline Hodgens Collection consists of original manuscripts of numerous books, chapters, articles and reviews written by Pauline Hodgens.  Additionally, there are materials used by Pauline during her time as a teacher and lecturer including exam papers and syllabi; papers and agendas from the Labanotation Institute Management Committee; and research undertaken by Pauline during her MA course. This interesting collection offers a valuable insight into the work of a respected dance and physical education teacher, as well as an opportunity to explore her extensive library of books which reflect her primary focus on the subject of aesthetics.

What will you discover?

Rudolf Laban Archive

Rudolf Jean-Baptiste Attila Laban (1879-1958) was a dancer, choreographer, teacher, philosopher, author, movement theorist and considered by some, the father of modern dance. He was a significant exponent of German Expressionist Dance in the 1920s and 1930s and went on to become internationally recognised not only for his creation of Labanotation, his written means of recording movement, but for his formation of complex systems in order to analyse movement characteristics. He defined the idea of community dance and valued its contribution to wellbeing. He set out to reform the role of dance education, emphasising his belief that dance should be for all. He also laid out the technical basis for professional movement and dance therapy and for the expressive movement training of actors. With F C Lawrence he pioneered workplace assessment with Laban-Lawrence Industrial Rhythm which analysed the movements of workers in factory production lines and on farms in order to devise less stressful means of carrying out tasks.  

With over 6,000 items of largely unpublished material to explore, the Rudolf Laban Archive contains a wealth of unique material to inspire your research. Laban was born in Bratislava in 1879, travelling, living and working in a number of places throughout Europe during his life.  It is therefore astounding that so much personal material has actually survived in our archive to record the extraordinary life of this pioneer. The archive is particularly rich in material created during the last 20 years of Laban's life. Recording his arrival in England, in 1938 as a refugee from Nazi Germany, the formation of the Art of Movement Studio in Manchester in 1946 and his continued work on movement theories up until his death in Addlestone, Surrey in 1958. Of particular importance are the thousands of drawings by Laban showing human figures surrounded by geometric forms, or simply the geometric forms themselves. The drawings represent the working out and evolution of his theories and are integral to understanding his ideas. The evolution of these ideas and the many drafts of manuscripts for his published books can be found in over 4000 files of papers. The archive's 800 photographs document Laban's life and work and show his many sides – toddler in nineteenth-century Bratislava, dapper teenager and bohemian artist in Paris, dancer and choreographer in Ascona and Germany, teacher and father of modern dance in England. In addition, the archive is home to a number of films which provide tantalising glimpses of life and classes, at the Art of Movement Studio and travels undertaken by Laban and his partner, Lisa Ullmann during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The collection also contains a number of German language periodicals dating from the 1920s, programmes including several relating to Ballets Jooss productions and the International Dance Competition held alongside the Berlin Olympics in July 1936, cardboard models, and scrapbooks recording events and periods in Laban’s life.

A number of items from the archive Laban’s drawings, photographs and films have been digitised and can be explored on the Digital Dance Archives.

What might you discover in the Rudolf Laban Archive?

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company Archive

Born in 1957 in Madras, Southern India, Shobana Jeyasingh travelled to London in 1981 where she briefly taught English, her interest in dance was sparked by a performance she saw of the traditional Indian dance style of Southern India, Bharata Natyam. At first she pursued a career as a classical Indian dancer, however soon Shobana launched her own company, forming “Shobana Jeyasingh Dance” in 1988. The company quickly gained a reputation for redefining audiences’ attitudes towards both Western and Indian dance, which was a reflection of Shobana herself who since her move to London wanted a “hybrid” company that embraced both the classical Indian and modern London influences in her life. Shobana has stated in the past that her own heritage is a mix of various influences from David Bowie, Purcell, Shelly, and Anna Pavlova, to Rukmani Devi and Merce Cunningham.


The desire of Shobana to re-imagine traditional dance motifs and techniques is evident in both her early and contemporary work and therefore represented in her archive, for example the early piece, Correspondences (1990), which was inspired by the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and  used dance to represent mathematical ideas. In her work Surface Tension (2000), Jeyasingh wanted to employ random pauses in the performance, so she directed the dancers to use the numbers in their birth-date to dictate the amount of times they would pause in the routine. A more recent work is Strange Blooms (2013) which is a dance based on the cellular processes and morphologies of plant life.


Her drive to create original and imaginative performances has not only influenced the content in Shobana’s dances but the locations they are set in as well.  The main location that Shobana is drawn back to is the city of London, which has been both an influence and stage for many of her pioneering performances. Fine Frenzy (1999) features a musical score that was inspired by Stoke Newington’s Church Street. Several live dances have taken place in or around famous London landmarks such as 2Step (2008) which was performed on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral for the City of London Festival, and Counterpoint (2010) a routine that saw twenty performers dancing between fifty five fountains at Somerset House.


This variety of influences, innovative ideas and striking modernism are recorded in Jeyasingh’s extensive archive. Our collection preserves materials for her creative and inspiring work which will allow you to discover the commitment and drive that lies behind these wonderful dances.   The Company regularly donate material to the archive enabling researchers to continue to explore the creative processes of this most active dance company.


Delve, probe and unravel dance re-imagined by discovering the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company Archive.

University of Surrey Archives

University of Surrey was established on 9th September 1966 by the granting of its Royal Charter with the transition from Battersea taking around another four years to complete, fully settling into its current location by around 1970. When the first wave of staff and students arrived on campus there was no heating, partial electricity, the restaurants had still to be completed and for a while food was served in large marquees and the site was so muddy the University had to buy a supply of wellington boots.


Once the move to Guildford was completed the links with industry began to develop; building on the strong legacy of Battersea, and in 1971 the professional placement year was introduced, something which the University likes to encourage even to this day.


During the1960s several individuals whose work was already internationally recognised joined the University academic staff, including Professor Z Makowski, who was a specialist in the design of space structures, Professor Chick who undertook pioneer work on ion implantation and Professor Zarek who linked mechanical engineering with biological and medical sciences.


Slowly new courses began to be adopted including Metallurgy, Toxicology, Languages and a Home Economics course and there were considerable developments in the arts and social sciences with Sociology, Economics, Psychology and the new Tonmeister course being established.


In the 1970s thoughts and developments began for the establishment of Surrey Research Park, which has gone on to play a significant part in the development of the University from its opening in 1985. The concept of the Research Park was to have a centre devoted to research in science and technology associated to the academic expertise of the University, which at the time was a groundbreaking concept. The long term benefits of the Research Park have proved immense especially through providing an independent source of funding for the University.  Companies based on the Research Park also had access to the expertise of the University academics and by 1989 there were sixty-five companies situated at the Research Park
The University continues to go from strength to strength developing into the innovative, research-led institution it is today.


In our archives you can discover the fascinating history of the University of Surrey,  exploring the establishment of a University on a completely new campus, the developments and expansions on the Stag Hill site.  Explore our photographs, minutes, student publications, annual reports, maps, plans and administrative records of this remarkable institution.

Read our blog to learn more about this fascinating collection


What will you discover?

Warren Lamb Archive

One of our most exciting collections concerns a man who quite literally revolutionised the way we look at everyday movement. Born on the 28th April 1923 Warren Lamb served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War but it was a chance meeting with movement theorist and dance teacher Rudolf Laban (whose archive we also hold) that would help propel him into becoming a figure whose work on movement is studied to this day.

The connection between Rudolf Laban and Lamb occurred at a lecture shortly after the War where a discussion with Laban about his work so interested Lamb that he spent his demob money on a course at Laban’s Art of Movement Studio.

This collaboration further developed when Laban invited Lamb to participate in his ground breaking study on factory work. Together with management consultant F.C Lawrence, Laban and Lamb anyalysed the movement of workers, then paired them with tasks that matched their observed movements. This was a completely new way of looking at a work environment (previously the efficiency of movement was all that had been a concern) and had a profound effect on Lamb who was impressed with the passion that Laban presented these pioneering and at the time controversial findings. Lamb would later mention a huge catalyst for his research was when he saw a “worker in a tile factory who literally danced her tasks of stamping the tile”.

Warren created his own consultancy, Warren Lamb Associates, in which he established his theory of Movement Pattern Analysis that stated that there was a direct link between the movement profile of an individual with their inner preferences and attitude. This bold new idea moved beyond body language and looked at the start and end of movements that employees made to assess their personality.  A movement profile was created by merging rather than viewing separately, the postures and gestures of an individual, Lamb was able to give valuable reports back about their decision making processes and suitability for roles within a company. Leading firms such as American Express, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Hambros Bank, Heineken, Kodak and Saatchi & Saatchi used Lamb’s methods, with Lamb usually starting by making a movement profile of the chief executive first. Warren’s far-reaching findings make up the majority of our archive collection with over 71 boxes of his research waiting to be explored.

The influence of Lamb’s forward thinking work was not just appreciated by Fortune 500 businesses. The Pentagon hired Warren Lamb as a consultant to teach them how to investigate the movements of several prominent world leaders for any clues into their personality or future intentions.

From factory floors to the offices of the Pentagon Warren Lamb never stopped working or thinking about movement. He was an inspirational man who led an extraordinary life, a large part of the Lamb archive gives a deep insight into the man behind the theory, housing: research papers, manuscripts, periodicals, news-cuttings and programmes.
Look at the world from a different perspective by exploring the Warren Lamb Archive, what might you discover?

Women's League of Health and Beauty Archive

The Women’s League of Health and Beauty, (WLHB) was founded in 1930 by Mary Bagot Stack (1883-1935). The League was extremely influential in forming the basis of the modern approach to fitness, and indeed still exists today as the Fitness League.  Its motto, ‘Movement is Life’ (the title of a 1909 essay by Isadora Duncan), emphasises the importance of physical health for our overall well-being.

Mary Bagot Stack, known as Mollie, a doctor’s daughter, developed a keen interest in health and healing. At the age of 17, she suffered a bout of rheumatic fever. Whilst recuperating, she met Mrs Josef Conn, who was soon to set up the Conn Institute of Physical Training in London – the Institute instructed in exercises developed by Sir Frederick McCoy of Melbourne University, influenced by ancient Greek practices and aimed specifically at women. Impressed with this approach to ‘women’s remedial health’ and its effects on her own recovery, Mollie subsequently moved from her home in Dublin to enrol in the Institute in 1907 and upon graduation she was appointed to a teaching post. She moved to Manchester a year or so later, treating private patients and going on to lead after-work classes for mill and factory workers, who benefitted greatly from systematic exercise. She also found time at weekends to run exercise classes for Girl Guides and children from poor economic backgrounds.  It was important to Mollie that such an outlet was available to all, regardless of economic status.

Marriage to Hugh Stack, an army captain, began a new chapter in Mollie’s life; she moved with him to the Himalayas where he was posted. She was struck by the natural movements of Indian women and children, their grace and flexibility, compared to their Western counterparts – due in no small part to not being encumbered by restrictive clothing. She learned some yoga asanas, which she incorporated into her exercise regime as they enhanced the focus on balance and poise that was central to the Conn teachings.

During World War I, Hugh was sent to France, where he was killed in action in late 1914, and Mollie returned to the UK with her infant daughter Prunella. Initially inconsolable, she eventually set up exercise classes for children at her own house, beginning with close friends and family members, and expanding these in the early 1920s as she threw herself into her fitness work. In 1925 the Bagot Stack School of Health was established, in Holland Park, London; here ten ladies were trained in the teaching of health exercise, physiology, several forms of dance, composition and public speaking.

The post-war years had seen an increased focus on health, due to the number of army recruits found to be in poor physical condition and the subsequent undertaking of their jobs, many involving manual labour, by women. Having lost her own husband to war, this played on Mollie’s mind a great deal. She mused that “Health represents Peace and harmonious balance in the innermost tissues of mind and body. Beauty seems to me to represent this idea carried out by every individual, by humanity universally. Oh, what a garden of Beauty our world could be!”  This was the inspiration behind her ‘Big Idea’: the Women’s League of Health and Beauty.

The first official WLHB exercise class took place in March 1930, with sixteen members, but their numbers grew rapidly, soon exceeding a thousand. To gain publicity, and further her aim of affordable health for everyone, Mollie organised a free demonstration in Hyde Park on 12th June, 1930 – incidentally her birthday – wherein 100 members, led by Prunella Stack and Peggy St. Lo, marched alongside the Band of the 9th Battalion, London Regiment, the Queen Victoria’s Rifles. It was a great success, and the League were to put on many such demonstrations in the future.

Sadly, Mollie was taken ill with thyroid cancer early in the development of the League and died in January 1935. At this stage, WLHB membership stood at over 47,000 and they had opened many further centres across the UK and were soon to expand internationally too.

Prunella, then twenty years old, inherited her mother’s leadership; along with other founding members such as Peggy and Joan St. Lo, she continued to take the League from strength to strength.  World War II halted expansion somewhat, but the WLHB was kept alive, and in peace time, flourished once again.

Its current incarnation, the Fitness League, has adapted over the years but still bases its teachings around the dance/yoga-inspired Bagot Stack method, emphasising ‘central control’ – exercising the core muscles to promote strength, good posture, flexibility, relaxation and energy. It still proclaims ‘Movement is Life’, symbolised by the graceful leap of Peggy St. Lo on their emblem.

In our archive, you can explore an extensive collection of WLHB memorabilia that illustrates how this movement captured the public imagination. Chief amongst these is the statue of the iconic Leap, but there are also trophies (for graceful walking), black velvet performance outfits and patterns for making one’s own uniform. Many magazines and publications are featured, including ‘Mother and Daughter’ and ‘Beautycraft’, and books by WLHB members. There are several scrapbooks of newspaper clippings regarding the League, largely from the 1930s. As the League is very much still alive, we also hold more recent pamphlets, cassette tapes of music and performances, alongside the poster announcing their re-branding.  Amongst this is a lovely letter from an individual who was a  member of the League for 72 years, and Margaret Peggie’s 1989 thesis ‘Movement is Life’: a study of the history of the League 1930-1990.

We also hold interesting documents from the Bagot Stack College (formerly known as the Bagot Stack School of Health), spanning several decades – it later evolved to offer ‘Physical Education and Secretarial Studies’, as shown by advertisements in education journals. Delve into timetables and syllabi, annotated performance notes, examination papers, handwritten accounting notes, committee minutes, and much correspondence and bring to life once again this innovative educational establishment.

What will you discover?

Where we are

University Library, George Edwards Building,  University of Surrey,  Guildford,  Surrey GU2 7XH,  United Kingdom T: +44 (0)1483 689235 F: +44 (0)1483 689500

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