Dancing Times, founded in 1910 by Philip J S Richardson, ceased publication in September 2022 following an unbroken 112-year history and is now looking for the right buyer for its collection of 35,000 photographs.
Sarah J Woodcock, the former curator of photographs at London's Theatre Museum, says:
It affords the widest coverage of 20th-century dance of any collection outside the Jerome Robbins Dance Division in New York or the Victoria and Albert Museum Performing Arts Collection in London.
The diversity is one of the collection's strengths, charting the rise of first the national dance companies, and the rise of contemporary, Black and Asian dance. Dancing Times was noted for its international coverage, and this is reflected in the images of the flourishing dance scene in Europe, the US, the Soviet Union and further afield.
The majority of the 35,000 images date from the early years of the 20th century through to the early years of the 21st century when digital photography overtook film and print photography. Some of the photographs are autographed, also with dedications to successive editors of Dancing Times.
In addition, there is a small quantity of 19th and 20th-century prints and drawings, including a pen-and-ink drawing by Mikhail Larionov of the ballet Chout, which the artist designed for Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and a discrete collection of photographs that once belonged to the balletomane Peter Revitt, a close friend of former magazine editor Mary Clarke.
Most of the photographs were sought or submitted for possible use in the magazine, but not all were published. Francesca Franchi, former head of collections at the Royal Opera House, says:
They represent all the subjects covered by the magazine, and therefore all aspects of dance: social and ballroom dancing, national dances from around the world, teachers and teaching of all types of dance, dance on film and television, and performance dance of all styles. The photographs include companies, schools and individuals, performers, choreographers, composers, teachers, and students, as well as newsworthy events in the dance world.
The collection has photographs by most of the most distinguished dance photographers, such as Serge Lido, Houston Rogers, Zoë Dominic, Martha Swope, Roy Round and Anthony Crickmay.
Jonathan Gray, the editor of Dancing Times, says:
As our collection has to be sold, we are anxious to find the right home for it. We are hoping, therefore, to hear from museums, research centres or university collections with strong links to the history of dance, or from potential buyers who would then wish to donate the archive to a suitable collection.
The collection fills seven four-drawer filing cabinets and is in excellent condition as it is housed in acid-free conservation-grade envelopes. It includes the complete bound volumes of Dancing Times from 1910 to 2022, and the Ballroom Dancing Times/Dance Today from 1956 to 2015, and has been valued in the region of £40,000 to £47,000.
Further information, including detailed valuations from both Francesca Franchi and Sarah J Woodcock, can be obtained on request. Interested parties should contact Jonathan Gray by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewings of the collection can also be arranged.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.