Jean Newlove was Rudolf Laban’s first assistant when he came to England. She subsequently became movement teacher to Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and has trained several generations of performers.

A serious student of dance from childhood, Laban auditioned Jean at Dartington Hall and offered her the post as his personal assistant. Initially she worked with Laban and F.C.Lawrence, (design engineer and factory consultant), pioneering ‘Laban Lawrence Industrial Rhythm’ in factories. This improved the movement of women workers in the war effort, increasing their output considerably. These workers also included land-girls, forestry corps and textile workers. She also introduced Laban’s ‘modern dance’ to the A.T.S.

Jean helped Lisa Ullmann establish teachers’ classes in modern educational dance before the Art of Movement Studio opened in Manchester in 1946, and ran drama courses on her own account. Joan Littlewood asked Laban to recommend a dancer/ choreographer to train a young company called Theatre Workshop. Jean joined the company - eventually marrying its co-founder, the playwright Ewan MacColl.

During a long working life time, 67 years to date, Jean has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, taken master classes for actors at RADA and Bristol Old Vic, and for dancers and actors in Havana, Cuba. She introduced Laban classes to actors in companies in Sweden and Czechoslovakia whilst on tour with Theatre Workshop. Her own dance group visited Warsaw and Moscow. In addition she has worked with actors in San Francisco, run many courses in Europe, directing musicals and plays for young people. She is currently working with drama students and her ex-Laban Diploma students.

Jean published two books: ‘Laban for Actors and Dancers’ (1993) and the illustrated ‘Laban for All’ (2004). Her final books were a biography of her daughter, the late Kirsty MacColl, and her autobiography (Yum Di Doo Dah).


Laban motif