Society for Dance Research Legacy Project


Dance Fields Conference, Friday 21st April 2017


Panel IX Chair: Helena Hammond
Paul Jackson, Victoria Thoms


This panel will explore both the history and achievements of the Society for Dance Research over its first thirty-five years of activity as well as its proposed online crowd sourcing project for salvaging and documenting this history. The Society for Dance Research is one of the UK's foremost promoters of interest in dance study and performance. Former Society member, curator of dance at the Victoria and Albert Museum and internationally recognised dance historian, Jane Pritchard MBE (2013) notes that the Society emerged in the early 1980s in conjunction with the first independent forms of the study of dance in the academy and served as an important forum for lively debate and public dissemination. Over its thirty-five- year history, the Society has been working to foster and promote dance scholarship and appreciation in the UK and to provide an international forum for diverse dance interests. It has done this through the hosting of public events both singularly and in collaboration with other institutions. The Society’s journal, Dance Research, has provided an international forum for the presentation and discussion of contemporary dance research. Events the Society has organised include: explorations of myriad forms of dance; studies and debates about different dance disciplines; and events studying the work of dancers and choreographers, some of which was arranged to coincide with particular performances or offered with practical demonstrations. In the approach to its thirty-fifth anniversary and with a desire to look back and take stock of the past, the realisation has been that the Society has focused so intensely on promoting discussion and preservation of the UK’s dance heritage, it has overlooked its own. The Dance Fields event offers a timely opportunity to revisit this unique past and gather past experiences as a means to move successfully forward into the future of dance in the UK. Dance Fields also serves as a catalyst to seek funding to explore and document this history more robustly and specifically. If this funding is successful, the panel will also explore the elements and process of this legacy project.


Paul R W Jackson is Reader in Choreography and Dance at The University of Winchester. He trained in both music and dance and has taught both subjects internationally. He has written extensively on dance and music and in 1997 was awarded the Chris de Marigny Dance Writers Award and was a regular contributor to Dance Now. He is the biographer of two of the leading figures in 20th century art, Oscar winning composer Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE and choreographer Robert Cohan CBE. He is currently completing a collection of articles on British Ballet Music, to be published by Dance Books. From 2004-7 he was Chair of the Standing Conference for Dance in Higher Education. He is a member of the boards of the Society for Dance Research, BalletLorent, The Yorke Dance Project, Zoielogic and acts as an Artistic Assessor in Dance and Music for Arts Council England.


Victoria Thoms is Research Fellow at the Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE), Coventry University. Before doctoral study in the United Kingdom, she trained in ballet, contemporary dance and choreography in Canada. Her research engages with recent debates in performance, trauma studies, and gender studies to theorise dance as a cultural practice within contemporary society. She recently published Martha Graham: Gender and the haunting of a dance pioneer (2013). She has published in Dance Research Journal, European Journal of Women’s Studies, Research in Dance Education, Women: a Cultural Review and she is Chair of the Society for Dance Research in the UK.