Betsy Gregory, Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella, has announced that she will be standing down from the post next autumn in 2013, at the conclusion of the 35th Dance Umbrella festival. By the time she leaves the leotards, leg warmers and array of coloured costumes behind her of previous festivals, Gregory will have completed sixteen years at Dance Umbrella, seven of them as Artistic Director.
The 2012 festival marked a major shift for Dance Umbrella, both artistically and organisationally. There were many firsts: it was the first time the festival programme was co-curated, the first time the festival was devoted to investigating a very particular ‘slice’ of what dance makers are doing right now, and the first time the festival has taken place almost entirely in a single venue, the new Platform Theatre at UAL’s Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Houses were full and feedback from the audience was overwhelmingly positive.
Since Greogory’s appointment in 2007, the Dance Umbrella Board and team have successfully navigated the organisation through a major transition in which the team have introduced many new strands of activity. These include free, outdoor performances, large-scale participatory projects of an unusually high artistic quality and the presentation of new work from under represented areas of the world, such as Africa.
The 2013 festival will continue Dance Umbrella’s innovation: bringing the new and developing audiences and the art form.2013 the team will return to a more expansive festival format, working with multiple partners across the city to present new work and collaborate on unique projects which would not happen otherwise. Over the next year, with the support of the Board and the Arts Council, Gregory will work to ensure that Dance Umbrella is in the strongest possible position to continue its work into the future, under the leadership of a new Artistic Director.
To celebrate 10 years at the helm of Rambert Dance Company, Artistic Director Mark Baldwin joined the Rambert dancers on the South Bank to appeal for support in the final stages of the fundraising campaign for the Company’s new headquarters at the heart of London’s cultural quarter. The dancers, the admin team and the inspirational teaching staff will be transporting their dance tights, foot thongs and assortment of leotards and costumes to a new start next year.
The UK’s national contemporary dance company worked hard to encourage supporters to make a £5 donation on 1 November 2012, the date of Baldwin’s official anniversary of becoming Artistic Director. Those who donated on the anniversary were entered into a special prize draw to win a VIP trip to Rambert Dance Company’s new headquarters during the opening celebrations in 2013.
Rambert Dance Company has been provided with a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a new home, leaving its Chiswick headquarters next year. In return for a commitment to provide a significant community dance programme, Rambert has been given a plot of land by Coin Street Community Builders, one of the UK’s leading social enterprises. The new home will safeguard Rambert’s future and that of contemporary dance as a centre for choreography and music for dance. It will cement Rambert’s status as one of the world’s great dance companies and enable it to improve its already excellent artistic standards, be a powerhouse for new choreography and become the centre for dance and music in the UK.
Every aspect of the building’s design – by award-winning architects Allies & Morrison – operation and programme of education and outreach activities will set new standards for public engagement with the art form. Rambert will move to its new South Bank home in 2013.
On October 30 2012 Sadler’s Wells, the UK’s leading dance house, held its annual press conference which detailed its 2011/12 year of achievement and success both at home and abroad.
An increased number of performances took place at its three London venues – Sadler’s Wells, the Peacock Theatre and the Lilian Baylis Studio – and an international touring programme took eleven productions to 28 cities across the world, spreading its dance influence to leotard wearers to tappers to high-kicking New Yorker wearers. Of these eleven productions, eight were the work of Sadler’s Wells Associate Artists with a total audience of 131,597. This is a fantastic achievement for those Artists involved, proving that dance is in high demand by a range of demographics: over 13% of the population now attending dance performances. The theatre is dedicated to working with celebrated artists, performers and companies at the forefront of the arts, and the Associate Artists and resident companies include Balletboyz, Matthew Bourne and his company New Adventures, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Jonzi D, Sylvie Guillem, Michael Hulls, Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant, Kate Prince and her company ZooNation UK Dance Company, Nitin Sawhney, Hofesh Shechter, Jasmin Vardimon, Christopher Wheeldon, Wayne McGregor and his company Wayne McGregor | Random Dance.
Additional achievements of the year for Sadler’s include 677 performances being presented on the stages of the three venues which is an increase of 53 shows on last year. 128 artists were commissioned during this period with income from the artistic programme reaching £16 million. Over 650,000 tickets were sold in the UK and on tour, and 90% of Sadler’s £22.8 million turnover was generated from earned income, 71% of income through ticket sales.
Since 2005 Sadler’s Wells has commissioned, co-commissioned, produced and co-produced over 80 new productions. Here’s to 2012/13!
Liam Scarlett, a First Artist of The Royal Ballet, has been appointed the first ever Royal Ballet Artist in Residence, allowing him to focus solely on his choreographic work. Scarlett will take up the position with immediate effect and make his last appearances with the Company as a dancer in the current run of Swan Lake, donning his ballet tights and tunic for the last time.
Scarlett’s latest work Viscera has since received its UK premiere at the Royal Opera House as part of a Mixed programme also featuring Wayne McGregor’s Infra and Christopher Wheeldon’s Fool’s Paradise, with past works including Sweet Violets, Asphodel Meadows and Diana & Actaeon from Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 earlier this year.
Over its expansive history, The Royal Ballet has been very lucky to receive generous support for new choreography, most recently through the New Ballet Works syndicate, launched in September and a scheme which will also work to support three new works being created by Scarlett, McGregor and Wheeldon. Donations received so far have raised over £450,000, which goes an extremely long way in enabling the extensive time and resources required when creating new choreography, especially for those as exciting as Scarlett’s.
His performance and choreographic talents have developed both on and off stage since Scarlett’s time at the Royal Ballet School and Company over the past sixteen years and subsequently as a member of the Company with previous Artistic Director Monica Mason’s encouragement. Now Scarlett has even more opportunity to concentrate full time on his choreographic work under new Director Kevin O’Hare and embark on some intriguing new projects in the future.
The Royal Opera House has just launched its Student Ambassador scheme, open to all students from across the UK and giving them, as Ambassadors, access to a whole host of exciting and exclusive benefits. The ROH has invited students from all over the UK to apply to be a Royal Opera House Student Ambassador for the coming academic year as an exciting new dance activity to engage with.
The ROH searched for passionate, creative and confident students who will advocate for the ROH at their universities this year as the first ever ROH Student Ambassadors. The ambassadors will promote exciting productions from the Main Stage, the Alternative programme and the ROH Cinema Season throughout the year by ensuring that the Royal Opera House is represented in the right places and at the right times on and around their universities. The ROH hopes that this will give all students access to world-class productions at the ROH, whether it be in London or at cinemas nationwide, pointe shoe clad or solely leotards.
The Ambassadors will receive access to discounted and complimentary tickets to ROH productions, a fascinating insight into the inner workings of one of the world’s greatest opera houses, the opportunity to meet and network with other Ambassadors and arts professionals and the opportunity to get an insight into the ROH creative departments, in addition to the possibility of being awarded a week long work placement at the ROH in the summer of 2013. Successful applicants who will have been informed recently of their new positions will be able to start the scheme off by The Royal Ballet’s Mixed Programme featuring Viscera, Infra and Fool’s Paradise.
The Royal Opera House Student Standby scheme is generously made possible by the Bunting Family and the Robey Family.
Following in the footsteps of Rambert Dance Company’s recent stint at the Sadler’s Wells is Quicksilver: Rambert’s youth dance company, complete with their leotards, tights and fresh inspiration. Quicksilver is a group of talented young dancers aged 15-24 who focus on new contemporary works as well as learning Rambert repertoire, led by Rambert Animateur Laura Harvey. Previous performances by the Quicksilver company have included the opening of the Eurostar from St Pancras International Station, various dance platforms at the Lilian Baylis Theatre and Sadler’s Wells, as well as performances for Richdance festival and Big Dance.
As part of Big Dance 2012, Quicksilver worked in association with Age UK towards a performance at The Watermans Theatre in Brentford in a new collaborative piece choreographed by, simultaneously, Artistic Director Laura Harvey. Over the summer of 2012, Quicksilver has been performing their new piece Trapeze, most recently shown at the final sharing for Move-In at The Clore Ballroom at the Southbank Centre. In addition to this, Quicksilver has also taken part in the flashmob Shh… It’s a Secret at the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush involving over 200 dancers aged between nine years and 90. This appearance was also led by Laura Harvey, bringing the shopping centre to a standstill for the seven minute piece which showcased a range of dance styles.
Another flashmob which took place recently featuring the Quicksilver dancers was at St Pancras Station to champion the work of the London 2012 Olympic Games volunteers and the legacy created from their work throughout the Olympic and Paralympic events. The flashmob included both the Quicksilver dancers and the volunteers, joined together in an uplifting and inspiring piece for both the press and the early morning commuters at 8am.
The University of Surrey, renowned for its higher education dance programme, has presented its schedule of its next National Resource Centre for Dance courses for Continuing Professional Development for dance teachers, be they of the ballet shoe, tap shoe, or jazz pant discipline.
The first of the sessions was A2 Dance: Focus on West Side Story and Jerome Robbins, held on 13 October. The course examined Robbins as a practitioner and the context of West Side Story in relation to the development of Musical Theatre as a dance genre, tutored by Gill Graves. Graves trained at the Roehampton Institute and has been teaching in further and higher education for 17 years across a wide range of Performing Arts and Dance. She is also an examiner and course team leader for A Level Dance and is the Head of Vocational Studies at the Royal Ballet Upper School.
The 14 October saw A2 Dance: Focus on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, course examining the Area of Study Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 1958-current providing historical and cultural context. There was specific focus on identifying key practitioners and their stylistic characteristics through practical and theoretical exploration, including include ideas for preparing for Dance Appreciation and the solo based on a practitioner for the Performance task. The course was tutored by Gillian Lenton, who has an MA from the University of Surrey and teaches KS3 & 4, AS and A Level Dance and A Level Theatre Studies at Weald of Kent Grammar School for Girls, also GCSE and A Level Dance at the Royal Academy of Dance.
The next in the schedule will take place on 10 November for GCSE Dance: Raising Standards in Choreography and Performance. This workshop will be a mixture of practical and theory, focusing on identifying how to help students understand how to successfully integrate performance and choreography into course planning. Penny Perrett will be leading the course who has led courses for teachers in all phases of education and was part of the team who produced the teaching framework for dance for Youth Dance England. She was also a member of the board of the National Dance Teachers Association for many years.
The next will be A2 Dance: Focus on Zero Degrees (Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Akram Khan, 2005) on 24 November. It will provide a contextual overview, key points and analysis in addition to warming up in an appropriate style and exploration of the repertoire practically and theoretically. The course leader will be Lorna Sanders who has a PhD from the University of Surrey, constructing a theoretical reconceptualisation of the subject of dance in education, looking specifically at GCSE and A Level Dance which she taught, moderated and examined for many years. Sanders is also a dance writer of articles, educational publications and two books, having been assistant editor for the 2nd edition of Routledge’s Fifty Contemporary Choreographers published in 2011.
The last in the series will be A2 Dance: Focus on The Royal Ballet, 1956-1977 examining the Area of Study The Royal Ballet 1956-1977 providing historical and cultural context. There will be a specific focus on identifying key practitioners and their stylistic characteristics through practical and theoretical exploration on 25 November, again presented by Lenton.
A worthy set of useful and insightful information courses to inspire any teacher.
It has been revealed that choreographer Wayne McGregor, Former Director of The Royal Ballet, Monica Mason and First Artist of The Royal Ballet Liam Scarlett have been nominated for the Hospital Club Top 100 list, an annual list which celebrates those who have influenced the creative industries over the previous year, be it through pointe shoes, jazz pants, tutus or tap shoes. The list is spread over ten categories from Art & Design and Performance to Fashion and Film.
As The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer, Wayne has created a number of pieces for the company, including Carbon Life and Machina from the Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 collaboration with the National Gallery. Over the coming season, Wayne will present Infra and Raven Girl which is a collaboration with The Time Traveller’s Wife author Audrey Niffenegger. This will be in addition to presenting FAR with his own company Wayne McGregor|Random Dance.
Mason retired as the Director of The Royal Ballet at the end of the last season after spending 54 years with the Company as both a dancer and in an administrative capacity, with Kevin O’Hare stepping into her ballet shoes to take over the reins. As well as dancing with The Royal Ballet, Scarlett has choreographed a number of pieces for The Royal Ballet, including Diana & Actaeon from Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, Sweet Violets – which was seen being rehearsed during The Royal Ballet live broadcast on YouTube – and Asphodel Meadows. Within the 2012/13 season, Scarlett will be presenting Viscera, a piece originally choreographed for the Miami City Ballet, in addition to a yet untitled new work.
The final list will be announced at an event at the Hospital Club in early November and is decided by public vote. All voters will be entered into a draw to win a day’s access to the Hospital Club and £150 to spend in any of the club’s bars or lounges. Voters are able to vote online as to who they feel should make the final list.
Ethan Stiefel, who may or may not be better known as a star of the ballet film Center Stage , has formally retired from dancing with American Ballet Theater and has been working tirelessly as Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet for over a year. He has just announced plans for the company’s 2013 season and the premiere of Giselle, his first commissioned production full of supernatural tutus, ballet shoes and ethereal beings, filling ballet, rather than commercial fans with much anticipation.
With his friend, Johan Kobborg, Stiefel is creating a new production of Giselle, starring Stiefel’s fiancée, Gillian Murphy, which premieres in Wellington on November 7 of this year. July 2012 saw Stiefel give his farewell performance in New York as an American Ballet Theatre principal donning show tights and ballet shoes, but is now preoccupied with his new productions.
The RNZB website displays the profiles of 30 dancers, including Murphy, but Stiefel has stated there are now 34 dancers in the company including some from the New Zealand School of Dance. The lucky three company members who will join Murphy in dancing the role of Giselle are Antonia Hewitt, Katherine Grange, and Tonia Looker and the Albrechts will include former Royal Danish Ballet principal, and now freelance guest artist, Andrew Bowman and Qi Huan.
After the success of the Royal Academy of Dance’s first Guest Speaker event with Christopher Hampson in April 2012, and the recent event in October with Kevin O’Hare, the RAD’s Faculty of Education has announced that Robert Parker, the Artistic Director of Elmhurst School for Dance, will be their next guest speaker on Sunday 18 November at Birmingham Royal Ballet. The RAD will be offering dance fans the chance to hear yet another leading dance figure’s journey and anecdotes by opening Birmingham Royal Ballet’s tutu adorned doors.
As a Principal dancer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet company, Parker donned his ballet shoes and tights and performed all of the classical lead roles, as well as performing in works by esteemed choreographers such as Twyla Tharp, Kim Brandstrup and David Bintley. He recently completed the Faculty of Education’s Professional Dancers’ Teaching Diploma at the RAD, adding yet another dance string to his ballet bow. As for the Elmhurst School for Dance, based in Edgbaston, Birmingham, the institution offers ballet training to 11 to 19 year olds, with close links with Birmingham Royal Ballet. Elmhurst is the oldest vocational dance school in the UK and its vision is to provide a world renowned centre of excellence for the training and education of classical ballet dancers for Birmingham Royal Ballet, and many other national and international dance companies.
Parker is set to discuss his training and career in dance with his audience for the Royal Academy of Dance, with the event free of charge to RAD Faculty of Education students, RAD members and RAD staff, but non-members are also welcome to reserve in advance. Attendance will cost £10 (including VAT) for non-members, with places allocated on a first come, first served basis.