London Contemporary Dance Theatre

Poster for London Contemporary Dance Theatre, photograph by Anthony Crickmay, England, 1981

Poster for London Contemporary Dance Theatre, photograph by Anthony Crickmay, England, 1981

Martha Graham first appeared in London in 1954. In the audience was Robin Howard. Impressed by Graham he financially backed her successful 1963 London season. He paid for British dancers to study at Graham’s school in New York and founded the Robin Howard Trust to encourage American dance in Britain.

London Contemporary Dance School was established in 1966, moving to The Place in 1969, giving the trust headquarters, studios, offices and, eventually, a performance venue.

In 1967 Robert Cohan, a leading Graham dancer, came to London to produce a full evening of contemporary dance by students and guest Graham dancers. He stayed to become choreographer and director of what became London Contemporary Dance Theatre. Under his leadership the company evolved a recognisable school of contemporary dance, derived from the Graham technique. It became the flagship of modern dance in Britain.

With no modern dance repertory on which to draw, students were encouraged to choreograph their own work. The result was an outstanding generation of dancer-choreographers. Richard Alston, Robert North and Siobhan Davies were among the first students in 1966; then came Christopher Bannerman, Micha Bergese, Patrick Harding-Irmer and Darshan Singh Bhuller.

Exhilarating images of uninhibited, energetic dancers made the public realise that dance could be more than tutus and swans. Young audiences responded to the new choreography, modern scores and exciting design and lighting.

For 25 years the company maintained a high level of creativity, constantly finding new talent as dancers left to found their own companies and teach. In 1994 Contemporary Dance Trust was restructured and Richard Alston became artistic director. The company was disbanded and replaced by the smaller Richard Alston Dance Company.

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Event - Lunchtime Lectures: Peter Brook Process to Production

Wed 25 March 2015 13:00–14:00

LUNCHTIME LECTURE: Join curator Kate Dorney, curator of Modern and Contemporary Theatre for this lecture on director Peter Brook. Brook's career spanned more than six decades, three art forms and three continents. He is as renowned for his emphasis on exploration and experimentation outlined in a number of books as he is for producing landmark films, plays and operas.

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