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

About the Archive

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

The collections are a rich resource for educators, dance artists and researchers of social and cultural history. They have untapped research potential, for example for those interested in how a regional dance company developed from humble beginnings to commanding centre stage in Leeds’ international dance scene.

Some of the collection strengths and highlights are:

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

Our records also cover: Company & Stage Management, Learning, Development, Academy, Music, Technical and Estates.

The Archive service was formed in September 2018, and in 2019/2020 the Business Archives Council supported the cataloguing of the Governance & Administrative papers. The majority of the Archive has now been catalogued and transferred to Leeds University Special Collections (excluding some audio-visual material, Estate records and posters), to enable long-term preservation and widen public access.

Please contact Northern Ballet in the first instance, but we may direct you to Special Collections. Some of the material has been digitised and is available via Google Arts & Culture.

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?

Want to find other performing arts collections?

Want to find out more about what we collect?

Want to contribute to the archive?

Contact & Access

We welcome visitors and researchers by appointment only.

For enquiries and appointments, please contact:
Archive & Records Manager

+44 (0)113 220 8000

Please get in touch to find out more about our research service.

The collection contains material which is not yet available to external researchers as it is restricted under the Data Protection Act (2018).

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