NSCD Presents VERVE 2015 Tour

Northern School of Contemporary DanceNorthern School of Contemporary Dance’s VERVE is the twelve-strong postgraduate performance company of the school, and for 2015 will be presenting a robust and highly physical tour of four contemporary dance works choreographed by celebrated artists: Kerry Nicholls, Theo Clinkard, Douglas Thorpe and Luca Silvestrini. This year’s programme features UK-based contemporary dance choreographers and shows the VERVE dancers in particularly physically demanding and theatrical work.

VERVE provides postgraduate students with experience working as a member of a professional dance company, following static training at NSCD in Leeds which is a world-class institution providing conservatoire level studies to the most talented and committed students regardless of their background. Providing the dance world with such skilled, strong dancers in such a physical and varied programme will be a delight for audiences.

The 2015 tour takes VERVE across the UK and Europe. Beginning in Leeds, the tour includes performances in Italy, Austria, Switzerland and London, presenting a dynamic and eclectic mixed bill of contemporary dance works. It will see Nicholls push the dancers to their limits with fast and intricate movement language that results in an energetic work. Leeds-based artist, Thorpe, creates his first work for the company, usually known for explosive, powerful and compelling dance theatre. Clinkard’s choreography sees the dancers’ transitions to professionals, and Silvestrini completes the programme with his unique style of dance theatre combining choreography, text, humour and social commentary to present the everyday in a revealing and subversive way.

VERVE is committed to pioneering new dance development and commissions both established dance artists and upcoming national and international choreographers to offer a dynamic, passionate and varied repertoire for its dancers and audiences. The company aims to create thought-provoking choreographic journeys that entertain, inspiring other young dancers to take to the stage.

Robert Cohan At 90

The PlaceSpring 2015 will see the celebrations of the 90th birthday of The Place’s founding artistic director, Robert Cohan CBE, widely recognised as the founding father of British contemporary dance. The Place will host a series of events including seminars, gala performances and exhibitions in the lead up to his birthday to celebrate how Cohan transformed dance in the UK and how his influence continues today through many outlets.

Cohan was instrumental in changing the dance landscape in the UK and Europe over the past half-century, after he established the pioneering company London Contemporary Dance Theatre. Born in New York in 1925, Cohan trained at the Martha Graham School following a stint in the armed forces in his early twenties. He joined the company in 1946 and thus began his professional career in dance. Cohan became something of a protégé and quickly became a soloist, performing throughout the world as a partner to the monumental lady herself.

Cohan left the company in 1957 to choreograph. Returning to the Graham company in 1962 for its European tour, he soon became a Co-Director along with Bertram Ross, another eminent dancer of Graham’s making. In 1967 he became the founder Artistic Director of The Place, London Contemporary Dance School and London Contemporary Dance Theatre, which he directed for the next 20 years. As one of the first contemporary companies in the UK it played a pioneering role in developing the art form across the country through touring, internationally too.

The Place is offering audiences unique performances and celebrations as a result of Cohan’s hugely successful career, with the programme including many highlights. The duet from Cohan’s Forest (1977), performed by dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, the premiere of a new solo (2015) by Cohan, performed by Liam Riddick of Richard Alston Dance Company, the premiere of a new work by Tony Adigun, inspired by Cohan’s Forest, performed by dancers from The Place’s Centre for Advanced Training and Children & Youth Dance Programmes, and an exhibition of dance photographs by Robert Cohan, many of them being shown for the first time.

Sylvie Guillem To Retire

Sylvie Guillem & Russell Maliphant in PushThe iconic and ethereal dancer Sylvie Guillem has announced that she will retire at the end of 2015. Having begun as a classical ballet dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet and then becoming a principal with the Royal Ballet, the French ballerina turned contemporary dancer will be sorely missed by her audiences. Guillem joined the Paris Opera Ballet in 1981 where she was singled out by director Rudolf Nureyev: she was promoted to the top rank faster than any other dancer with the company.

Guillem chose to make the announcement through the Japan Performing Arts Foundation; her farewell performance will also be taking place in Japan, which will make it difficult for the rest of her international following to witness the scheduled farewell. Recently Guillem has performed solely contemporary works, creating works with esteemed choreographers such as Russell Maliphant, Akram Khan and many others.

Guillem is now 49 years old, however you would not know considering her fantastic technique and lithe body. Following a rather eventful career Guillem is one of the world’s most famous dancers. This is in part due to her fantastic legs and feet, but ultimately due to her impeccable performances and the artistry, expression and quality that comes as a result of her acclaimed performances. She is also an associate artist of Sadler’s Wells.

November this year will see Guillem dance in a revival of Sacred Monsters, a duet with Akram Khan at Sadler’s Wells, giving London audiences the chance to see Guillem in action once again. Despite this, it is fitting that Guillem’s performance will be in Japan as she feels a particular tie to the country: her 2011 show 6,000 miles away was named for the country to support the earthquakes and tsunami victims in the country.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

New Movement Collective

New Movement CollectiveNew Movement Collective, an associate company of Rambert (Britain’s oldest dance company), has recently announced this year’s performances of its 2012 debut work Casting Traces. The company will be joined by a new team of talented performers including Niku Chaudhari (of the Sidi-Larbi Cherkaoui company Eastman), Hannah Kidd (Richard Alston Dance Company) and Eryck Brahmania (Rambert).

Dance, architecture, film and specially commissioned music will meet to create a world of illusion, mystery and shadow play, where nothing is what it seems, with remaining dates in Brighton and Winchester.

Founded in 2009, New Movement Collective is a new generation of choreographers with a long collaborative history. Working as acclaimed dancers and dance-makers, NMC members have a shared history through many of Europe’s leading ballet and contemporary companies including Rambert, Gothenburg Ballet, English National Ballet, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, New Adventures, Scottish Dance Theatre and Company Chameleon.

Creating a nourishing and supportive environment for artistic growth, the collective aims to create refreshing and innovative work of the highest standard. The company aims to develop work that is directly presented in response to different and unusual theatrical settings. As a result, NMC has a strong commitment to collaborative working methods. Blurring the boundaries between dance, architecture, film and music NMC aspires to change and evolve the landscape of contemporary theatre, unlocking performance potential from the hidden parts of cities.

In 2013 the New Movement Collective was nominated for ‘Best Independent Company’ in the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards. It’s association with Rambert sets its in good stead for success considering its support and collection of talented performance artists from across the field of dance.

Les Ballets C de la B

Les Ballets C de la BFounded for a dare in 1984, les ballets C de la B is mix of surrealism, slapstick and semiotics within the sphere of dance. It’s ethos has consequently made it one of the world’s most influential dance theatre companies. Since then it has become a company that enjoys great success at home (Belgium) and abroad. Over the years it has developed into an artistic platform for a variety of choreographers and the company still keeps to its principle of enabling artists from various disciplines and backgrounds to take part in this dynamic creative process.

Les ballets C de la B is not easy to classify however it is possible to pin-point a house style (popular, anarchic, eclectic, committed), and its motto is ‘this dance is for the world and the world is for everyone’. As a result, Danceworks in London is presenting a 2-day workshop with the company in September, a great opportunity for aspiring dancers.

This workshop will be taught by dancer Bérengère Bodin who was born in 1980 in Fonteenay-le-comte, France. She studied at the CNDC in Anglers and then joined leading performance companies such as Raimund Hoghe, Joëlle Bouvier, Carolyn Carlson and Euan Burnet Smith, Kubilai Khan Investigation, JoJi Inc Cy, Isabella Soupart and Robyn Orlin, before joining les ballets C de la B.

Bérengère will encourage the dancers participating to feel and even redefine the emotions of life. This will be an opportunity to enter a world of not-knowing and she will work with individuals to examine their meaning and relationship to emotion, and this will be developed throughout the workshop. There will be opportunities to improvise, share and perform and the workshop is for those who wish to move to another deeper level in their dance and emotional expression

Participants must be 18 years of age or over.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced

Rambert And Cunningham

Rambert Dance Company LogoRambert, 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.

Carolyn Bolton: Rising To Rambert

Carolyn Bolton

Carolyn Bolton was born in Columbia, USA, and trained at South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and University of South Carolina. She joined Rambert in 2013 after working with the Wideman/Davis Dance Company, Unbound Dance Company, and Spartanburg Ballet.

Carolyn’s career highlights include performing with New York City Ballet in the USC Dance Company’s annual gala and featuring in the 2007 ETV documentary Sketches from Chronicle for the Martha Graham Company.

Carolyn has also choreographed works during the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities year round programme, the University of South Carolina academic year and Summer Program, Benedict College After School Dance Program, as well as works for Litchfield Dance Arts Academy. In addition, Carolyn has choreographed solos for numerous dance competitions including the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix Competition.

When did you begin dancing, where and why?

I began dancing quite late, aged eleven. I auditioned for a dance programme at my local middle school in South Carolina and was accepted. Initially I was inspired to move by images on the television ranging from Olympic events, such as figure skating and gymnastics, to more fantasy based programmes like the Power Rangers. However it was seeing Julie Kent from American Ballet Theatre perform Le Corsaire that ultimately sparked my interest. I loved the music, costumes, and the beauty of each step and knew I wanted to dance too.

What were your early years of dancing like?

When I began dancing it was only for fifty minutes a day, five days a week. My school did an excellent job of exposing me to various modern techniques as well as classical ballet. They also brought in professionals, such as Carolyn Adams, to work with us and set established pieces like Donald McKayle’s ‘Rainbow Etude’. My teacher also encouraged me to take classes outside of school and provided me with free after school lessons at a local studio.

How long have you been performing? Did you start young?

I have been performing for about fourteen years now. I started performing shortly after I started. My school would put on several productions a year, including one large production at the end of each year. I also had the opportunity to participate in performances with local companies in South Carolina.

Where did you train and what was a typical day like?

I did my pre-professional training at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. A typical day for me included a ballet technique class in the morning, followed by a pointe class, and three hours of repertory. I would then complete my academic course work and continue rehearsals into the evening. After rehearsals I would have about two hours of free studio space, so I would continue to work on my own choreography or improving technical skills. Each Saturday I would take either a Horton, Cunningham, or Jazz class in addition to my normal ballet class and rehearsal schedule.

What is a typical day like now?

A typical day now consists of a morning technique class either ballet or contemporary, followed by five hours of rehearsals.

Do you still take classes? How do you keep on top of your technique?

I try to stay on top of my technique by taking daily classes provided by Rambert, as well as maintaining pilates exercises to target my weak areas.

What’s the best part about performing?

The best part of performing for me is the silence and moment of stillness I feel when I step on the stage. It’s an indescribable feeling to have all the focus on you. It’s also a lot of pressure, and that knowledge of everyone watching you gives you an adrenaline rush which is unmatched by any other experience.

What would you say was your greatest achievement to date?

My greatest achievement to date is to be dancing for Rambert. I have had the privilege and honour to work with so many artists in America, but Rambert has truly opened a new world of dance to me. It is a pleasure to be in the midst of such talented and diverse artists each day.

Which part of dance do you enjoy the most?

I truly enjoy taking class every morning. For me class is a form of meditation; a way of centering the body, reconnecting with myself and getting in touch with how I am feeling each day. Class allows me to take risks and improve on my technique and artistry prior to stepping on stage.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be part of the dance industry?

I would advise someone aspiring to enter the dance industry to cherish every moment and opportunity presented. The dance world can be very fickle but it is vital to remember that ultimately, you are in charge of your destiny. It is important to persevere even when it appears things may not work out. By maintaining a positive attitude and looking for solutions rather than problems, achievement is inevitable.

What’s next for you?

I am looking forward to more touring and performing with Rambert. I am also interested in further exploring my choreographic vision while simultaneously teaching for companies/schools.

Photo © Astrid Julen

Preserving The Martha Graham Dance Company

Martha Graham Dance CompanyThe Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance announced that its efforts in using technology to help preserve choreography and pass it on from one generation to the next were to be aided by a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will allow the company to build on, digitise and organise its archive of materials on Graham dances.

The grant will allow the center to create “toolkits” to help immortalise individual Graham dances, including videos of generations of Graham dancers in rehearsal and performance; stage drawings; musical recordings and scores; Graham’s choreographic notes; drawings and photographs of sets; costume sketches, and reviews. The kits will also incorporate the center’s recently restored and digitised films and videos, and some materials that were restored after they were damaged by Hurricane Sandy last year, a devastating blow to the company.

Over the next two years the center will create 35 new toolkits which can be used by the Martha Graham Dance Company when it revives a work, as well as by other companies and schools that license them, helping to recreate the magic of the Graham technique and performance without allowing any of it to get lost. The next set of toolkits would be about 34 dances, and the Martha Graham technique. Restoring the critical material – those pieces the company has information on – are hugely important for the company.

The toolkits will also be made available to scholars, critics and artists interested in Martha Graham. Graham is widely renowned as one of four major modern dance pioneers of her time (with Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and José Limón). Throughout her choreographic lifetime, Graham created 181 dances.

Holasz Choreography and The Charcoal Movement

Treacle HolaszAfter a successful premiere at The Place’s Resolution! festival, Holasz Choreography is set to launch the next installment of its piece for Resolution!, Yfronts – a contemporary lap dance as a collaboration with The Charcoal Movement on Friday 7 March at The Etcetera Theatre in London.

As a choreographic movement taking its first steps, founder Treacle Holasz has already made her mark on the contemporary dance map, presenting her work to much acclaim earlier in February. For March at The Etcetera Theatre the format is due to be much the same as at The Place: a playful duet involving feminism, politics and a fair bit of larking about!

Audiences can enjoy a live set design created by The Charcoal Movement and there may even be the chance to get your hands mucky and join in as well! The set will then become the home to Holasz Choreography’s Yfronts, accompanied by live music and washed down with a beverage or two!

For those interested there is also an open dance workshop available. Places are limited but it is is fantastic opportunity to get up close to the action and learn a little more about how Holasz went about creating her Yfronts. There is a special combination booking price of just £12 for both the performance and workshop, or £6 for just the workshop.

The workshop will be led by Charlie Ford, Georges Hann and Treacle Holasz, the team behind Holasz Choreography, offering the opportunity to learn repertoire from Yfronts and explore some of the creative tasks that created it. Some dance experience is required and places are very limited so booking well in advance is recommended.

Don your Yfronts, you are in for a real treat!

The 14th National Dance Awards

2014 National Dance Awards Critics' CircleThe Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for 2013 took place at The Place’s Robin Howard Dance Theatre on 27 January 2014. A prestigious event for acknowledging dance talent, the awards recognise an array of talents throughout the previous year.

The awards are decided by the 60 members of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle after an extensive round of nominations and voting. To be eligible, performances had to be given in the UK between 1 September 2012 and 31 August 2013. The awards were hosted by former NDA winner, Tommy Franzèn, and Bennet Gartside of The Royal Ballet.


Christopher Wheeldon for Aeternum by The Royal Ballet

Russell Maliphant for Fallen by BalletBoyz® The TALENT

Nicolas Le Riche for Le Jeune Homme et la Mort / English National Ballet

Julie Cunningham for New Works 2012 / Michael Clark Company

Yuan Yuan Tan for RAkU / San Francisco Ballet

Paul White for The Oracle / Meryl Tankard

Amanda Chinn, General Manager of Scottish Dance Theatre

BalletBoyz® The TALENT

Mikhailovsky Ballet

Dane Hurst / Rambert Dance Company

Natalia Osipova / Mikhailovsky Ballet

Leanne Benjamin
Matthew Bourne

The awards are a celebration of brilliance amongst the diversity of dance forms. More than 200 nominations of companies, choreographers and performers were received from dance critics and the eventual 40 short-listed for the awards came from a wide spectrum.

The 15th National Dance Awards will be held on Monday 26 January 2015.