Preservation Politics

8-9 November 1997
University of Surrey Roehampton

Strong signals from both the profession and dance scholars prompted Preservation Politics, the first major European conference to examine our relationship to past dances and dance styles. Dance is now clearly wanting more of a past. Reconstruction is increasingly seen as a political manoeuvre, to establish a power base for cultural identity as well as for the art itself. The radical reworking of heritage to make it new is a compelling theme for many of today’s choreographers and the reconstruction of lost work has burgeoned into a major enterprise.

The conference attracted a range of participants: choreographers, scholars, dancers, rehearsal directors, critics, notators, and representatives from other arts.


The proceedings are published by Dance Books as Preservation Politics: Dance Revived, Reconstructed, Remade (ed. Stephanie Jordan, 2001).


  • Confronting Oblivion: Keynote Address and Lecture Demonstration on Reconstructing Ballets – Kenneth Archer and Millicent Hodson
  • Reconstructing the Disturbing New Spaces of Modernity: The Ballet Skating Rink – Ramsay Burt
  • Diaghilev’s ‘Soviet Ballet’: Reconstructing Jakulov’s Set Design for Le Pas d’acier (1927) – Lesley-Anne Sayers
  • After the Event: Reconstructing Ashton’s ‘Past’ – Carol A. Martin
  • Inside Artistry: The George Balanchine Foundation Video Archives – Nancy Reynolds
  • Is Authenticity to be Had? – Ann Hutchinson Guest
  • Issues of Authenticity and Identity in the Restating of Paul Taylor’s Airs – Angela Kane
  • Freeze Frame or Fast Forward? Notating Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée using video as a primary source – Michele Braban
  • The Preservation of the Ballets of Kurt Jooss – Clare Lidbury
  • Reconstruction: Living or Dead? Authentic or Phony? – Muriel Topaz
  • The Staging of Doris Humphrey’s Passacaglia: A Director’s Perspective – Lesley Main
  • Interpreting or Remaking the Text? – A cross-arts panel of Tim Albery, Phyllida Lloyd, and Ann Thompson
  • Shakespeare: Preservation and/or Reinvention? – Ann Thompson
  • Reproducing the Dance: in Search of the Aura? – Helen Thomas
  • More than an Expert Scribe? The Human Dimension – Ann Whitley
  • The Present Past: Towards an Archaeology of Dance – Alessandro Iyer
  • Bringing the Past to the Present: An Experiment in Reviving Eighteenth-Century Theatre Dances – Madeleine Inglehearn
  • Imitating the Passions: Reconstructing the Meanings within the Passagalia of Venüs & Adonis – Moira Goff
  • Pierre Lacotte and the Romantic Ballet: An Account of the Work of the French Choreographer and Director – Nadine Meisner
  • ‘Bien écoute…’ A Study of Nineteenth Century Ballet Mime – Giannandrea Poesio and Marian Smith
  • A la recherche des pas perdue: in search of lost steps – Alastair Macaulay
  • Identity and the Open Work – Sarah Rubidge
  • Revisiting History in Postmodernism: Resurrecting Giselle… again… and again! – Vida Midgelow
  • Postmodern Play with Historic Narratives in the Reconstruction of Lea Anderson’s Flesh and Blood (1989) – Valerie A. Briginshaw
  • Deborah Macmillan interviewed by Christopher Cook and Monica Mason’s demonstration of the solo for the Chosen One from Macmillan’s The Rite of Spring (1962)
  • Matthew Bourne interviewed by David Leonard

Conference committee

Stephanie Jordan (Chair), Angela Kane, Lesley Main, Ann Nugent, Jane Pritchard, Jonathan Thrift

Collaborating organisations and sponsors

Society for Dance Research, Society of Dance History Scholars, John S. Cohen Foundation, Miss V.L. Clore’s 1976 Charitable Trust, Linbury Trust, Radcliffe Trust, and Roehampton Institute, London