The Laban Archives and Special Collections

There are a number of organisations and individuals across the UK and Europe who hold archive materials produced by Rudolf Laban, his pupils or colleagues or which are in some way linked to Laban’s work.  Some key organisations for these collections include National Resource Centre for Dance (University of Surrey), Trinity Laban, Leeds University, Tanzarchiv Leipzig and the Kunsthaus in Zurich.  However, there are many more treasures held in other institutions or within personal collections.

Two of the key organisations in the UK holding Laban related collections are featured here.

Rudolf Laban and related archives held at National Resource Centre for Dance (University of Surrey)

The NRCD, part of Archives & Special Collections at University of Surrey, houses the Rudolf Laban Archive, his personal archive covering the last 20 years of his life in the UK (1938-1958) but also containing numerous earlier items. The archive consists of many unpublished writings, which show him working on his theories, photographs documenting his life and work, notation scores, information related to the development and practice of Industrial Rhythm, and some silent film footage. It is also rich in the thousands of drawings of figures in geometric shapes or just the shapes themselves, which again show him developing his complex theories.

 We have a number of other related collections which show the use of his theories and teachings in a variety of contexts and their impact not only on dance and choreography but also on other areas such as education, acting and movement direction, therapy, and the workplace. 

Image Ref: L/C/4/8. Rudolf Laban Archive, © NRCD

These related collections include: the Lisa Ullmann Archive which contains administrative papers for the Art of Movement Studio as well as documents and photographs relating to Ullmann’s career;Geraldine Stephenson Archive, an early pupil at the Art of Movement Studio who took Laban’s work into acting and is credited as the first person to hold a post of movement director; Warren Lamb Archive representing the work of another early pupil who developed Laban’s effort theories for workplace analysis; Betty Meredith-Jones Collection and Audrey Wethred/Chloe Gardner Collectionwhich represent Laban’s principles being used in movement therapy; and collections which highlight the use of Laban’s work in education such as Joan Russell Archive and the Educational Dance-Drama Theatre Archive. We are also hold collections from the International Council of Kinetography Laban (ICKL) and Laban Art of Movement Guild. We house a number of other small collections, to find out more contact or visit our catalogue online

Laban Archive at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

The Laban Collection is the research collection of Valerie Preston-Dunlop compiled in the 1980s and 1990s during the course of Valerie’s research. It contains around 1,000 original items including notes, drawings and correspondence by Rudolf Laban as well as dance theatre programmes, journals, articles and other papers of his associates. It includes audio and video interviews carried out by Valerie with people who worked with Rudolf Laban or were students of his in the 1920s, ʹ30s and ʹ40s. This is complemented by collections of individuals who were trained by Rudolf Laban and his associates and include the Ernest Berk Collection, the Beatrice Loeb Collection and the Sylvia Bodmer Collection.                                   Ref: LC/B/22/2/12. Icosahedric model. 

In addition we hold collections that are focused on the Art of Movement Studio (now Faculty of Dance at Trinity Laban). These include collections of individuals who were students at the Studio and comprise the Maureen Leon Collection, the Margery Weekes Collection and the Lorna Wilson Collection. It also includes the collections of former faculty members of the Art of Movement Studio (latterly the Laban Centre) including those of Annie Boalth, Bonnie Bird, Peter Brinson, Els Grelinger, Stuart Hopps, Dorothy Madden, Simone Michelle, Marion North and Shirley Wimmer. It also comprises the Laban Centre Archive, being the administrative archive of the institution from the late 1960s until 2005. And finally we hold collections of organisations related to the work of Rudolf Laban and to that of the Faculty of Dance including the Bonnie Bird Choreography FundTransitions Dance Company, and Independent Dance at the Holborn Centre for Performing Arts.

To find out more visit,

Featured image: Laban with notation symbols from the Rudolf Laban Archive, NRCD. Ref: L/F/1/38

Background image: Laban in Paris in 1901, from the Rudolf Laban Archive, NRCD. Ref: L/F/1/46

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