Collecting StrandNational Resource Centre for Dance
LevelCollection
Ref NoED
TitleExtemporary Dance Theatre Archive
Date1975-1991
Extent824 files; 17 boxes of photographic material; 128 audio recordings; 38 drawings; 216 posters; 12 theatre programmes; 91 periodicals (catalogued material).

Moving image recordings of performances on video, DVD and digital format, and 1 box and 2 photographs (uncatalogued material).
Name of CreatorExtemporary Dance Theatre; 1975-1991; contemporary dance company
DescriptionExtemporary Dance Theatre initially formed as Extemporary Dance Group in 1975 to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They continued after the Festival as a student venture, disbanded and then reformed in 1976 as a professional group, based in London. In 1978 Paul Taras took over directorship and the company was renamed Extemporary Dance Company. The company was a small scale touring contemporary dance troupe which aimed to take contemporary dance to audiences otherwise not exposed to dance, bridging the gap between the large and small audiences. In 1981, Emilyn Claid assumed directorship of the company and the following year changed the company's name to Extemporary Dance Theatre. The new repertoire focused on the theatrical event rather than pure dance. From Autumn 1985 the company focused on a particular style or idea for a whole programme which was toured for half a season, before being dropped and another idea of a contrasting nature prepared. Abandoning the common system of keeping a repertoire of dancers and dances, and instead having the company work on one production at a time, Extemporary chose a specific group of dancers most suitable for that piece. Sean Walsh became director in 1990 but Extemporary's Arts Council revenue grant was withdrawn in 1991 and it was disbanded.

The archive encompasses the administrative and performance history of the company, from its origins in 1975, through to its disbanding in 1991.

Material includes: audio recordings of music for performances; artwork and designs for publicity material; photographs from performances, rehearsals and publicity shoots; posters and programmes. There is also a large collection of periodicals, including newsletters and magazines produced by the company. The administrative papers include financial records (accounts, bank statements, budgets as well as applications for funding); proposals for performances; policy documents; correspondence with the Arts Council and other arts organisations including the Greater London Authority (GLA); records relating to education outreach work and summer schools; work in connection with Equal Opportunities; Board meeting minutes; marketing; personnel files and records relating to dancers, choreographers and staff; press cuttings; publicity material; and records relating to tours

A small amount of material remains uncatalogued, including the video recordings of performances and the DVD access copies. If you require further information about this archive, please email archives@surrey.ac.uk.
ArrangementMaterial arranged at time of cataloguing according to the format-based classification scheme which was then in use by the National Resource Centre for Dance.
- The administrative papers (ED/E) were organised into alphabetical subject headings to reflect the company arrangement of their records which were housed in filing cabinets, in alphabetical order.
- The photographs were arranged according to production to facilitate access.
- The remaining materials were processed and stored in the order that they became available to cataloguing staff.
Administrative HistoryExtemporary Dance Theatre initially formed as Extemporary Dance Group in 1975 to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The dancers who performed at the festival were Geoff Powell, Anita Griffin, Tom Jobe, Rebecca Rifkin, and Judy Garay, performing the Cathy Lewis work 'More', and the Tamara McClorg work 'Red on Red'. They decided to form a company after good reviews came in from the Festival. This Graham-based, student venture disbanded after a couple of performances but in response to demand, was reformed in 1976 into a professional group, based in London. Founded by Geoff Powell, the group subsequently consisted of six dancers trained at The Place: Beba Bissell, Corrine Bougaard, Fiona O'Kelly, Geoff Squires and Lloyd Squires. The name, Extemporary, reflects both its dictionary definition: performed without previous thought or study, as well as the fact that the dancers were all ex-London Contemporary Dance School.
Paul Taras (ex-Rambert dancer) took over directorship in 1978 and with Extemporary's expansion the group took the name, Extemporary Dance Company, becoming an independent, full-time performing unit. The Arts Council awarded the company its first major grant in 1978. The company was a small scale touring contemporary dance troupe which aimed to take contemporary dance to audiences otherwise not exposed to dance, bridging the gap between the large and small audiences.
Extemporary had an international profile, with dancers drawn from Israel, Canada, Australia, South America and England. Choreography was produced by key modern dance choreographers such as Richard Alston, Ingegerd Lönnroth and Robert North. The company also promoted the choreography of those within the organisation, such as Corrine Bougaard, Steven Giles and Robb Fleming, for example.
In 1981, Emilyn Claid assumed directorship of the company and the following year changed the company's name to Extemporary Dance Theatre. The new repertoire ushered in with Claid focused on the theatrical event rather than pure dance. Choreographers who worked with the company during this time included David Gordon, Ian Spink, Daniel Larrieu, Michael Clark, Karole Armitage and Fergus Early.
From Autumn 1985 Extemporary abandoned its system of touring two mixed programmes of short pieces for a whole season. The company instead focussed on a particular style or idea for a whole programme which was toured for half a season, before being dropped and another idea of a contrasting nature prepared . Abandoning the common system of keeping a repertoire of dancers and dances, and instead having the company work on one production at a time, Extemporary chose a specific group of dancers most suitable for that piece. Works choreographed from this period included Cutter by Richard Alston, Elbow Room Game by Laurie Booth, America Suite by David Gordon, and Pheasant China by Emilyn Claid. Sean Walsh became director in 1990 but Extemporary's Arts Council revenue grant was withdrawn in 1991 and it was disbanded.
AccrualsNo further accruals expected.
Physical Description14 half inch sony high density tapes were copied onto Betacam in 2004; these 14 Betacam tapes were then digitised and copied onto DVDs along with a further 6 videos in 2010 as part of the Digital Dances Archives project (2010-2011)
Persons
CodePerson NameDates
DS/UK/C566Extemporary Dance Theatre; 1975-1991; contemporary dance company1975-1991
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