New dance development at Dartington College of Arts UK 1971-1987
An explorative examination of the phenomenon of New Dance is undertaken through a case study of events at Dartington College of Arts over the period 1971-1987. This socio-historical study, informed by the firsthand accounts of a group of practitioners (artists/teachers), highlights the New Dance development in an educational context. Moving from the broad to the specific, the chapters present contextualised evidence from multiple sources in chronological order. Each chapter substantiates the claim that Dartington was an original and important source of New Dance development in the UK throughout the period of its development (1970s-1980s). Firstly, a broadly sketched contextual frame links the New Dance development to features from other realms and the movement of the New in dance to its own tradition. Then the historical background to Dartington illuminates how the College became a key educational forerunner in the complex of UK dance culture during the 1970s. Documentary and oral sources serve to illustrate the unique position of Dartington and its dance programme at the time. Phase One of the New Dance development (1971-1978) sees new approaches to dance, movement and the body incorporated in the structure and curriculum of the 'Theatre Language' BA (Hans) course and accredited as a main subject of study by the CNAA in 1977. With the UK dance domain and cultural conventions as context, different features and aspects of the New Dance development are revealed. The New Dance era is established as a turbulent period of change, challenge and innovation. These contexts implicitly demonstrate Dartington's special place and pioneering role as an institute of higher education in the overall development and formation of the New Dance movement and community. Dartington's function in the articulation, expansion and dissemination of practice and ideas becomes even more pronounced during Phase Two of the continued New Dance development (1978-1987). This is exemplified by a decade of annual dance festivals hosted by the College and attended by hundreds of dancers from the UK and abroad. A gradual transition out of this optimum time can be detected both at the festivals and the Theatre Department from 1985 onwards. By the late 1980s a notably changed cultural climate signals the end of an erä and allows the assessment of this creative period of development in dance, both in and outside of Dartington. The detailed insight provided by the case study helps to unravel the multi-layered nature of the New Dance phenomenon. This includes the identification of a dynamic network of relationships, people, organisations and events as elements in a movement of change, which contributed to the broadening base of dance. As exemplified by the case study, the structural developments in arts education played a major part in this expansion and this is where Dartington College of Arts made its key contribution.