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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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Russian Avant-Garde Theatre: War, Revolution & Design (Paperback)

Russian Avant-Garde Theatre: War, Revolution & Design (Paperback)

The two decades between 1913 and 1933 saw an unprecedented boom in Russian theatre culture, ignited by the avant-garde movement sweeping through the a…

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A gift in your will

You may not have thought of including a gift to a museum in your will, but the V&A is a charity and legacies form an important source of funding for our work. It is not just the great collectors and the wealthy who leave legacies to the V&A. Legacies of all sizes, large and small, make a real difference to what we can do and your support can help ensure that future generations enjoy the V&A as much as you have.


Event - Tamara Rojo in Conversation

Mon 15 February 2016 19:00–20:45

Passionate about dance since the age of five, Tamara Rojo is currently Artistic Director and Lead Principal of the English National Ballet.

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