London Contemporary Dance School opened its doors (a rented studio in Berners Place) in 1966. The School was directed by Robert Cohan and administered by Janet 'Mop' Eager, and among the first students were Richard Alston, Siobhan Davies and Robert North.
The School, and its partner company London Contemporary Dance Theatre, were the brainchild of Robin Howard, who had been inspired by seeing the Martha Graham Company in 1954 to bring contemporary dance to Britain.
Howard formed the Contemporary Dance Trust as the parent company for LCDS and LCDT, with Lord Harewood, Sir John Gielgud, Henry Moore, Ninette de Valois, Marie Rambert and Martha Graham as its patrons.
Links with Martha Graham were close when the Trust was launched. Graham served as Artistic adviser and the School was the only place in Europe authorised to teach Graham technique. For two years Howard commuted to New York as Executive Director of the Graham Foundation while his embryo London school continued to grow, and other members of staff also went to New York, Mop Eager to work in the Graham company office, Judyth Knight to gain experience as an accompanist for contemporary classes. When the Graham company came to London in 1967, Jenny Henry worked alongside Graham's wardrobe mistress.
Contemporary Dance Trust moved into the building at 17 Duke's Road, which it named The Place, in 1969. Patricia Hutchinson Mackenzie was appointed as the first Principal of the School, providing more structured courses. It was the core group of Howard, Cohan, Eager and Hutchinson who shaped this first phase of the School's life, later bringing in Jane Dudley as Director of Graham Studies. Dudley in turn invited Nina Fonaroff to be Head of Choreography, bringing her background with both Graham and Graham's musical mentor Louis Horst.
As the School evolved, direct links with Martha Graham and the Graham technique diminished as a wider variety of teaching styles were introduced, and the School led the way towards formal accreditation and full funding for dance training. Other key landmarks in its history include:
The first major redevelopment of The Place, creating new studios for the School on Flaxman Terrace.
Dr Richard Ralph becomes Principal and begins designing and developing degree courses for professional dancers.
The School begins offering a BA Honours degree in Contemporary Dance, validated by the University of Kent. The first cohort of degree students go on to graduate in 1985.
The School's postgraduate performance company, now known as EDge, tour to the Far East under the direction of Janet Smith.
A new chapter for The Place as London Contemporary Dance Theatre, which three times won the Olivier Award for Oustanding Achievement in Dance, is closed. Richard Alston is appointed Artistic Director of The Place and forms Richard Alston Dance Company.
Veronica Lewis becomes Director of London Contemporary Dance School.
Faculty member Mary Evelyn becomes the first to gain a PhD for her research.
A £7.5million redevelopment of The Place's building, including the construction of six new dance studios, is completed. The building is re-opened by The Place's patron, HRH the Duke of York.
London Contemporary Dance School together with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) form the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, a Higher Education Institution, which enables eligible students to gain full funding for their training. A further six leading dance, drama and circus arts schools will subsequently join the Conservatoire.
Peter Connell retires after 28 years as Assistant Director of the School. He is succeeded by Kirsty Alexander.
A new third year touring company, LC3, is launched, increasing the performance opportunities for undergraduate students.
Dancer, choreographer and teacher Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp is appointed Chief Executive of The Place.
A further £1.1million development to the building adds two new state-of-the-art studios, taking the total number of studios at The Place to 11, in addition to its theatre, body conditioning suite, cafe and other faciltiies.
A new modular taught postrgraduate specialism in Advanced Dance Studies is introduced, as a broader-based option to complement the existing specialisms in performance, choreorgaphy and education and training.
2009 - 10
The Place celebrates its 40th anniversary with a year of performances and events celebrating "what dance can do". The celebrations include the biggest ever reunion of LCDS students at The Place, launching our new alumni network.
David Steele, a former Head of Postgraduate Studies at LCDS, returns to the School, succeeding Kirsty Alexander as Assistant Director.