British Black Dance Archives

This Heritage Lottery funded project aimed to collect, preserve, catalogue and make discoverable over 20 collections from eminent black British dance artists. The project was led by State of Emergency Productions, a national arts organisation, in collaboration with archive partners including the National Resource Centre for Dance (NRCD) and Black Cultural Archives.


As there was very limited representation of black dance artists within archives in the UK – Kokuma Dance Theatre Archive held at NRCD is a notable exception – this project aimed to ensure that a critical mass of material was gathered from artists and companies in order that these collections could be opened up for exploration. The aim was to ensure these histories do not vanish and a significant area of UK cultural and artistic heritage would be uncovered and accessible to those curious about what the collections could reveal.

The project ran from September 2013 until March 2016 and, alongside expanding archive collections representing work from the 1960s to 2000s, there was an extensive programme of education and community events which involved a range of audiences with the archive, stimulating interest in this part of our dance history.

Passionate about their work, the artists that have deposited their archive collections at the University of Surrey are:

This was an ambitious project and archive project partners we not able to complete all the collections work due to a range of constraints. Although the online archive catalogue does not include the records for the collections held at Surrey, we are able to facilitate access to some of these in our research room if you are interested in referring to them for your study or research, please contact

Other organisations who hold collections related to this project are Black Cultural Archives, University of Leeds and Birmingham Library.