The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) has acquired Dancing Times magazine's photographic archive. The archive comprises approximately 38,000 black and white and colour prints, spanning the period from c1920 to 2000, making it one of the largest collections of 20th-century dance in the world.
The RAD acquired the photographic archive after Dancing Times announced it would cease publication in August 2022 when editor Jonathan Gray stated it was no longer financially viable. The final issue was in September 2022. The news was met with great sadness and shock from leading dance industry figures, organisations, and writers.
Gray, Editor of the Dancing Times from 2008 until its closure said, “I am thrilled that this wonderful collection and resource has been saved for the nation and that it is going to be looked after by an organisation so closely associated with the Dancing Times. Although it's sad that the magazine no longer exists, I feel sure that my predecessors, Mr Richardson and Mary Clarke, who were so inspirational to so many people in the dance world, would have been delighted by this news.”
Dancing Times and the RAD have a close relationship spanning over 100 years – the magazine's founding editor Philip Richardson spearheaded the inception of the RAD over 100 years ago when it was founded as The Association of Teachers of Operatic Dancing of Great Britain. As a result of this long history, the RAD will be a natural home for the magazine's extensive archive.
The acquisition has been made possible thanks to generous support from the Linbury Trust who have made a grant towards acquiring, preserving, and cataloguing the archive, as well as enabling education opportunities for RAD students and the wider dance community. Stuart Hobley, director of the trust, said, “We're delighted to help secure the future of this extraordinarily rich and diverse collection. From dance legends like Ram Gopal and Fred Astaire, to the passion of local dance competitions; there's more than 100 years of inspiring stories to discover.”
The images in the collection reflect the growth of dance from relatively sparse coverage in the years before 1914, rising in the 1920s and 1930s, growing exponentially in the 1940s and throughout the years of the “ballet boom” in the late 1940s and 1950s, tracing the expansion of contemporary dance in the US and the UK (especially London Contemporary Dance Theatre) during the 1960s and 1970s and the growing popularity of national dance, especially Spanish and Indian. 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.
The RAD is currently in the process of transferring the collection to its own extensive archive that contains 75,000 items spanning 100 years. A full catalogue is expected to take two years to complete and the project is being managed by the Library & Archive team.
Tim Arthur, Chief Executive of RAD, said, “Not only was the Dancing Times pivotal in the creation of our organisation, it was a much-loved magazine that provided vital discourse around our art form. We are very touched that Dancing Times has entrusted us with its beautiful collection, which we will proudly house in the Wolfson Library and RAD Archive here in Wandsworth, London.”
To learn more about philanthropically supporting Dancing Times photographic archive and work of the RAD, please visit contact the RAD: https://www.royalacademyofdance.org/about-us/contact-us/
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.