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Two hands preparing the 5000+ photographic slides for sorting and digitisation

Our Archive

The Northern Ballet Archive tells the story of the Company’s development from foundation in 1969 to the present day.

About the Archive

Our Archive comprises organisational and personal collections, from posters to pointe shoes, and programmes to production bibles. It covers more than 200 productions in our stage and screen repertoire.

Some of the collection strengths and highlights are:

Communications: Photographs, press scrapbooks and other publicity material; audio-visual recordings; cast sheets

Governance: Board of Directors minutes from 1969-present

Administration: Production files from 1969-2010s

The cataloguing of Governance & Administrative papers was supported by the Business Archives Council.

We also have records relating to:

  • Company & Stage Management
  • Music
  • Wardrobe
  • Academy
  • Learning
  • Development
  • Estates

We are partway through an exciting project to develop our archive (through preservation, cataloguing and digitisation) and make it more accessible. We are gradually making our digitised collections available via Google Arts & Culture and eventually will transfer some of the archive to Leeds University Library Special Collections for long-term preservation and wider public access.

The collections are a rich resource for educators, dance artists and dance fans and have untapped research potential, for instance, those interested in how a regional dance company developed from humble beginnings to commanding centre stage in Leeds’ international dance scene.

A collection of photographs showing dancers in white ballet clothing
Programme cover for Wallasey Arts Festival in 1970
Archive snapshot of an article from 1969 entitled Northern Dance Theatre, A ballet for the north west
A costume sketch of a women's ballet outfit
A sketch of a ballet studio with dancers in rehearsal
A poster of Dancin ’85: A New Year’s Extravaganza
A collection of staged ballet photographs
Design transparency showing layers of a poster creation
Two hands preparing the 5000+ photographic slides for sorting and digitisation
Poster of Northern Ballet Theatre A Midsummer Night's Dream 1981
A letter from an audience member

Want to explore more?

Take a look at the catalogue so far.

Find other performing arts collections:

Leeds University Library Special Collections

Association of Performing Arts Collections (APAC)

Want to find out more about what we collect?

Read our Collection Development Policy

Want to contribute to the archive?

Read our Donation Agreement Form

Support our fundraising appeal

Contact & Access

Please direct enquiries about our archives to:

Archive & Records Manager
+44 (0)113 220 8000

Please get in touch to find out more about our research, copying and digitisation services.

Some of the collection is not yet accessible to (external) researchers and the public, for instance material which contains sensitive personal information about individuals and is restricted under the Data Protection Act (2018). Please get in touch for more information.

Image references

  • 1a - Photographic contact sheet featuring Dame Alicia Markova rehearsing her production of Les Sylphides, premiered by the Company in Manchester, 1978. Dancers include principal Jenny Sui Kan Chiang. One of the 10,000+ photographic prints in the archive. Photo Brian Linney 

  • 1b - Programme from Wallasey Arts Festival in 1970, one of Company’s earliest festival performances. Entry just one shilling and sixpence! 

  • 1c - Manchester Sketch article by Company founder Laverne Meyer showcasing the North West’s new ballet company, November 1969. Featuring pictures of Meyer and two original dancers, Suzanne Hywel and Carol Barrett. From one of the many press and programme scrapbooks in the archive 

  • 1d - Designer Peter Farmer’s Cinderella costume sketches for the 1979 version of the famous fairy-tale, choreographed by Robert de Warren. One of the many costume sketches in the archive 

  • 1e - Sketch of rehearsals for Robert de Warren’s Miss Carter Wore Pink in the Company’s Zion Institute headquarters, Manchester. MCWP explored the childhood of painter and writer Helen Bradley. Illustrator ‘HW’, 1980 

  • 1f - ‘Dancin ’85: A New Year’s Extravaganza of dance for everyone’, one of hundreds of fliers in the archive advertising the Company’s productions and workshops. 1985 

  • 1g – PR shots, 1970s-1980s 

  • 1h – Design transparency showing layers of a poster creation, [1980s] 

  • 1i- Preparing the 5000+ photographic slides for sorting and digitisation, 2020. Photo H Jonkers 

  • 1j - A Midsummer Night’s Dream poster, one of more than 500 production posters in the archive 

  • 1k - Thank you letter from school pupil who saw Cinderella courtesy of the Learning Department’s outreach programme in 2014