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RepositoryNational Resource Centre for Dance Archive
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TitleExtemporary Dance Theatre Archive
DescriptionThe Extemporary Dance Theatre Collection contains the administrative and performance history of the company, from its origins in 1975, through to its disbanding in 1991. During this time Extemporary Dance Theatre occupied a key role within British contemporary dance, as well as making strong connections with performers and choreographers from America, the European Continent and Asia. Almost all of the works choreographed for Extemporary during this time are contained on video within the collection, along with photographs from performances, rehearsals and publicity shoots, and the complete administrative holdings of the organisation.
Admin_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.
Custodial_History6 videos were deposited in July 2010 by Emilyn Claid due to the Digital Dance Archives project
Finding AidsA range of performances on film and photographs are included on the Digital Dance Archives (
Extent822 files; 890 photographs; 304 audio recordings; 37 drawings; 23 DVDs; 214 posters; 11 programmes; 165 videos; 90 periodicals
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 alongwith a further 6 videos in 2010 as part of the Digital Dances Archives project (2010-2011)
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