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Williams, Peter (1914-1995), designer and dance critic

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Surname: Williams
Forenames: Peter
Gender: Male
Date: 1914-1995
History: Peter Williams was educated at Harrow School and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. He established his own fashion design business in Ebury Street, London, which flourished from 1934 to 1939 when it was closed on the outbreak of war. He was Head Designer for Jantzen Ltd, then the leading swimwear and sportswear manufacturer, where he was employed from 1945 to 1947. He designed for American choreographer John Taras for Designs with strings (Choreographic work: Taras), which Taras was creating for the English Metropolitan Ballet Company. This was followed by designs for a revival of Prince Igor (Choreographic work) by the same company (1948) and for Selina (Choreographic work: Howard) for Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet (1948), for which he also wrote the scenario. He became editor of 'Dance and Dancers' in 1950 and continued in this role for thirty years. In addition he was dance critic for the 'Daily Mail' from 1950 to 1953 and later for the 'Observer' from 1982 to 1983, having been deputy there since 1970. He was responsible for the dance section of 'A Report on Opera and Ballet in the United Kingdom 1966-69', London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1969, which profoundly changed the nature and status of the dance profession in Britain, leading to the establishment of regional companies such as Scottish Ballet and Northern Dance Theatre. He served on the Arts Council itself as chairman of its dance advisory committee (1973-80), and was chairman of the British Council's drama and dance committee (1976-81), encouraging the overseas tours of British companies. Williams founded the Dancers' Pensions and Resettlement Fund, which he chaired from 1975 to 1992, helping dancers to face new challenges after their performing days were over. He also chaired the Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund from 1984, and in 1986 was appointed a governor of the Royal Ballet. He helped in 1979 to found, and for five years was first chairman of, the Creative Dance Artists Trust, organising and adminisitering the international course for professional choreographers and composers. Williams was appointed OBE in 1971, and in 1981 published his definitive 'Masterpieces of Ballet Design', Oxford: Phaidon, 1981. He died on 10 August 1995. In his memory the Central School of St Martin's College of Art and Design, London, instituted the Peter Williams Design for Dance Project in 1996 as a practical annual performing element in its BA honours studies in theatre design. An entry for Peter Williams can be found in the 'Oxford Dictionary of National Biography', Oxford University Press, 2004.
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/P140581 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/P40602 )
Collections
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1
c1950-1980: photographs of dancers and dance companies, dance theatre programmes, articles, administrative papers and dance company press books.
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance: Laban Archive
See ASLIB Directory of Literary and Historical Collections 1993

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