Rambert, Britain’s oldest dance company, is set to perform a site-specific version of Merce Cunningham’s signature works, Events, at its new South Bank building this summer. Cunningham is seen as many as one of the fathers of post-modern dance as we know it today within the contemporary sphere, with many artistic directors of Rambert having studied in the then-Cunningham studios in New York.
Events marks the first time the touring dance company will stage a professional show of its own at its new £19 million home, which opened in December 2013 with the original intention of operating solely as a rehearsal space. It will stage Rambert Event – which will see Cunningham’s choreography arranged in a new version by Jeannie Steele – in two of its studios, which will accommodate 120 people from 28 June to 12 July. Previously Rambert has only partnered with the nearby National Theatre, using the Rambert studios to stage performances of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime following the collapse of the theatre the show was playing in.
The promenade show will feature new music written and performed by Philip Selway, from rock band Radiohead, and designs by painter Gerhard Richter. It will be the first performance of Cunningham’s Events since the closure of the choreographer’s dance company in 2011, following his death in 2009. The company presented a number of Events throughout its lifetime, accumulating in a farewell tour which came to a triumphant close on New Year’s Eve in 2011.
The performance has been made possible due to a £100,000 donation by Ambassador Theatre Group chief executives Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire. Panter is chair of the dance company and their donation has launched Rambert’s New Work Commissioning Fund, which will raise private money to develop exceptional projects that are additional to the company’s normal repertoire.