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Arts festival to honour enduring cultural impact of refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe

Fri 23 November 2018

Pioneering choreographer Rudolf Laban – who established one of Trinity Laban’s two founder institutions – is among the cultural figures to be celebrated in a year-long nationwide arts festival honouring refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe.

Insiders/Outsiders festival runs from March 2019 to March 2020 and marks the enormous cultural impact refugees from the 1930s and 1940s had – and continue to have – on British culture.

Across the year, performances and workshops at Trinity Laban and elsewhere will celebrate the work of choreographers such as Rudolf Laban, Kurt Jooss, Sigurd Leeder and Hilde Holger, and show how they transformed modern British dance.

Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, Insiders/Outsiders brings together a vibrant and all-encompassing programme of exhibitions, concerts, dance and theatre performances, film screenings, walks, lectures and literary events all over the UK. Alongside Trinity Laban, other Insiders/Outsiders partners include Tate Britain, Sotheby’s, the Courtauld Institute of Art, Glyndebourne, Pallant House Gallery and Ben Uri Gallery & Museum.

Initiated by art historian Monica Bohm-Duchen, Insiders/Outsiders highlights the indelible contribution of the artists, photographers, writers, architects, designers, actors, film-makers, dancers and musicians as well as publishers, art historians, dealers and collectors who, in fleeing Nazi-dominated Europe, greatly enriched this country’s culture. It also features work by descendents of these refugees.

Dancer, choreographer and dance/movement theoretician Rudolf Laban was born in Austro-Hungary in 1879. One of the founders of European Modern Dance, his work was extended through his most celebrated collaborators, Mary Wigman, Kurt Jooss and Sigurd Leeder. Laban raised the status of dance as an art form, and his explorations into the theory and practice of dance and movement transformed the nature of dance scholarship. Laban was also the first person to develop community dance, setting out to reform the role of dance education through the belief that dance should be made available to everyone.

In 1936, while at the height of his career, Laban’s name and work was destroyed by the Nazi Government Propaganda Ministry. Two years later he took refuge in Britain. He later founded The Art of Movement Studio in Manchester in 1946, which expanded and moved to Surrey in 1953. Rudolf Laban died in 1958, but his school – renamed the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance – continued to flourish, and moved to new premises in New Cross, south east London. The Laban Building in Creekside, Deptford, opened in 2002, accompanied by another new name – Laban. In 2005, Laban merged with Trinity College of Music to form today’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

More information about Insiders/Outsiders can be found at

A detailed programme will be announced in January 2019 and updated throughout the year.