A Reluctant Farewell to EDC’s President Dr Geraldine Stephenson c1925-2017
With sadness, the Early Dance Circle marks the passing of our President Geraldine Stephenson, on Christmas Eve 2017, with grateful recognition for her many years of support for our work with historical dance. In 2001 she provided the Early Dance Circle Annual Lecture on historical dance in film under the glamorous title, Swirling Skirts Fill the Screen.
Geraldine Stephenson trained with Rudolf Laban at the Art of Movement Studio (Manchester) in its early years and then developed his theories and methods as a dancer, teacher, producer, but pre-eminently as a director/choreographer in theatre, TV and film. She may be the first to be publicly credited for such a role.
In 1948 Geraldine began teaching acting students at Esmé Church’s Northern Theatre School Bradford. in Laban’s place. From early in her career, she had a strong interest in dance and movement of the past. In 1951, she choreographed the York Mystery Plays for the Festival of Britain, directing all the great crowd scenes. She directed movement for further Mystery Plays and also many large pageants at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall and Llandaff Cathedral. During these years she met and worked with Belinda Quirey, one of the founding figures in the history of early, or historical, dance.
From the 1950s to 2000s, Geraldine worked on numerous productions for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and a range of others at leading UK theatres. Through her teaching approaches, she helped actors who were not confident with dance and movement to move; she focused on the purpose of the movement, on people interacting in a story and how they would move. Credits for her work in television are numerous. Just a few include: Vanity Fair (1967), War and Peace (1972), Poldark (1975-76), I Claudius (1976), The Yellow Wallpaper (1989), the Dr Who series The Brain of Morbius (1975-1976), Tenko (1984) as well as a broad range of Shakespearean and period dramas. She was also credited on a range of films such as Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975), Lady Jane (1986), Persuasion (1995) and Notting Hill (1999).
Geraldine Stephenson’s archive is housed at The National Resource Centre for Dance (NRCD). They have posted a full blog about her long career at http://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/archives/2018/01/10/a-tribute-to-geraldine-stephenson. A donation would help them to preserve her memory and pass on her expertise.