The Rambert Debate: Do Choreographers Needs Editors?

Rambert Dance Company LogoThe Guardian’s dance critic Judith Mackrell – following a Rambert performance late last year – asked if choreographers needed editors. Sometimes it is a common view, other times not so much, that dance work might benefit from an external eye cast over it to ensure it is succinct and comprehensive. This view may smart with some dance creators, however it seems necessary in order to create the best work possible for the future.

Late January 2015 therefore saw Rambert host a discussion for an audience of dance professionals to explore the question in more detail. Judith chaired a panel which included Mark Baldwin and Paul Hoskins, Rambert’s Artistic Director and Music Director respectively, together with Peggy Olislaegers, the Director of Dutch Dance Festival. They were joined by three more directors: Robert Casarotto of Balleto di Roma, Christopher Hampson from Scottish Ballet and Sharon Watson from Phoenix Dance Theatre. Also taking part were two dance producers: Emma Gladstone from Dance Umbrella and Alistair Spalding of Sadler’s Wells.

Hampson’s response implied some brilliant artists would not accept editing of their work by someone else, in addition to the fact choreographers are constantly self-editing during creation. Spalding then warned of impeding artists that work ahead of popular or critical opinion; as Baldwin put it, it is like asking a choreographer to unscramble an egg in response to the impossibly difficult demands for change can be.

Despite this, Watson and Gladstone maintained that external circumstances can force change onto a work, and often there just may not be time to go through and see the piece critically. As identified by Casarotto, if this can be difficult for relatively well-resourced organisations, it is far harder for those working independently. Alternatively, Olislaegers felt that among younger practitioners, collaboration is more common and a choreographer’s autonomy less so.

The consensus seemed to advocate a supporting structure for creative processes, which could easily involve editors, producers, critical friends, organisations, networks: the list goes on.

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

Rambert’s Curious Incident

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeBritain’s oldest dance company, Rambert, is set to host community performances of the National Theatre’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the Olivier award-winning production. South London community groups, along with representatives of local employers and businesses, will have the opportunity to watch the production when it is performed in the round in a ‘rehearsal room format’ at Rambert’s new home.

Rambert’s new building is directly behind the National Theatre on London’s South Bank; the performances will take place during the week of 17 February in a studio with lighting and sound facilities of professional standard so can easily accommodate this version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott. It tells the story of Christopher who has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog Wellington, he records each fact about the event in the book he is writing to solve the mystery of the murder. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the winner of seven Olivier Awards, will resume its West End run at the Gielgud Theatre from 24 June (opening night 8 July). A screening of the National Theatre Live broadcast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, filmed during the play’s original run in the Cottesloe Theatre, will be shown in cinemas on 22 May with further screenings in following weeks. The Broadway premiere of the production will open in New York in October this year.

Rambert’s New Home For Dance

Rambert Dance Company LogoBritain’s national contemporary dance company Rambert has taken up residence in its new home on London’s South Bank, which includes dance studios, treatment and body conditioning rooms, workshops, offices and an archive. The location has been made available to Rambert by Coin Street Community Builders in return for a commitment to provide a significant community dance programme in the local area, and for a rent of one pair of ballet shoes a year. The facility will nurture, develop and realise the creative visions of the best of today and tomorrow’s choreographers and dancers; the ambition is that the landmark dances for the next 100 years will be created in the building, therefore giving dance a permanent home on the South Bank

Rambert will take its work to people throughout the UK, with the most far-reaching touring programme of any British contemporary dance company. Currently over three-quarters of Rambert’s performances take place outside of London, complemented by equally extensive education and community-based work. Closer to home, the new premises will hold connections with the local neighbourhood. People of all ages and abilities will be welcomed into the building to join in dance classes, and the daily activity of the building will be opened up to visitors, as will the extensive archive of Britain’s oldest dance company. The hope is that everyone who comes into the building will be inspired with confidence and ambition for Rambert’s future as Britain’s national contemporary dance company.

During the first year in its new building, Rambert’s home will be a hub for making new works, restaging classic repertory, creative collaborations and community engagement. Plans include, three new large-scale commissions for the company (Artistic Director Mark Baldwin, Shobana Jeyasingh – one of the UK’s foremost independent choreographers – and Alexander Whitley, a former Rambert dancer recently appointed associate artist with the company. Two classic works from Rambert’s past repertoire will be revived, namely Christopher Bruce’s iconic Rooster, first performed by Rambert in 1994 and last revived in 2001, and Four Elements, a 1990 commission for Rambert by celebrated US choreographer Lucinda Childs.

Rambert’s new home is the first major, purpose-built dance facility to open in London for 10 years. The building’s three main studios have been named the Marie Rambert Studio, after the company’s founder; the Mercury Studio, acknowledging the Mercury Theatre, the company’s first home; and the Anya Linden Studio, in recognition of the generous contribution to the fundraising campaign from two of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts: Monument Trust and Linbury Trust. The Marie Rambert studio is 306.75 square metres – the equivalent size of the stage at Sadler’s Wells which is the largest theatre space the Company regularly tours to.

Rambert’s Evening Of New Choreography

Rambert Dance Company LogoRambert’s Evening Of New Choreography comes soon after its opening of its new premises on London’s south bank, to be held at the Lilian Baylis Studio on 17 and 18 December 2013, 7.45pm. The event is one much anticipated in the dancing calendar, enabling Rambert’s dancers to present the latest offering of new work from them. The Evening is an opportunity to see a new generation of emerging choreographic talent and will feature new works created by Malgorzata Dzierzon, Dane Hurst, Estela Merlos, Mbulelo Ndabeni and Patricia Okenwa, accompanied by the Rambert Orchestra.

Rambert has nurtured generations of choreographers who have gone on to enjoy long-standing and influential careers. They include Rambert’s current artistic director Mark Baldwin and such other notable names as Christopher Bruce, Michael Clark and Rafael Bonachela. It is fitting that the 2013 programme is comprised of the first works to have been made in the studios at Rambert’s new home.

Reminisence from Dane Hurst sees his continued collaboration with award-winning jazz composer Tommy Evans. Here he addresses ideas of cherished memory, failed romance, violent passion and solitude.

Hikikomori, the phenomenon of reclusive young adults withdrawn from social life, is the provocation for Malgorzata Dzierzon’s work about the impact of cyberspace on human relationships. Rambert Music Fellow Kate Whitley has composed a string quartet for the piece – her first commission since taking up post.

Mbulelo Ndabeni offers an exploration of the female spirit. Inspired by his South African roots, this work will be performed to a driving percussive score by Rob Millett.

Entre tú y yo is Estella Merlos’s portrayal of obsession and confrontation within the illusory sense of self, accompanied by an electronic and baroque score featuring Fennesz, Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe and Plastikman.

Patricia Okenwa’s collaboration with dancer Antonette Dayritt sends her on a personal quest to uncover a dance near the edge of her ability. Set to music by Geoff and James Holroyde that takes Lockgroove records and experimental jazz as a starting point for a unique score.

Free Events From Rambert On The South Bank

Rambert Dance Company LogoRambert is set to move to its new purpose-built home on the South Bank later this year and joining with music, film, theatre and the visual arts at what will be London’s cultural hub.

To celebrate this the Company will be hosting a series of events showcasing all that Rambert does, connecting people with leading industry professionals from Monday 2 – Saturday 14 December, when Rambert will be inviting the public to explore the state-of-the-art facilities. Visitors will be able to tour the building, watch rehearsals for upcoming performances, observe Rambert’s world class dancers at work in their daily technique class and take part in classes. Workshops will be on offer for people of all ages, experienced dancers and those who are completely new to dance.

The two week programme also includes performances of Artistic Director Mark Baldwin’s The Rite of Spring by the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, concerts by the Rambert Orchestra, and Vintage Rambert, a cross-arts performance piece created in response to Rambert’s Archive by young people aged 16-25. The choreographic process of Baldwin will also be demonstrated as he creates new work in the studio.

The new building project has been over twelve years in development, with construction beginning in November 2011. The site was made available to Rambert by Coin Street Community Builders, one of the UK’s leading social enterprises, in return for a commitment to lead a significant community dance programme in the local area and for the rent of one pair of ballet shoes per year.

All programme events are free, but booking is essential as capacity is limited. They can be viewed online at www.rambert.org.uk/rambert_moves. To book a place on any Rambert Moves event please email moves@rambert.org.uk.

Barak Marshall: A Philosophical View Of Dance

Photo Courtesy of Barak MarshallBarak Marshall is a choreographer incredibly sure of his message. From studying at Harvard, to his first choreographed work, to his upcoming commission for Rambert dance company, Barak has an innate sense of communication, both through dance and in conversation. Self-taught, Barak is a choreographic phenomenon, fuelled by humans and the expanse of description in dance.

When did you begin dancing and why?

Umbilical whiplash!

My mother, Margalit Oved, is a very famous choreographer and a dancer. She was born in the British Protectorate of Aden and after immigrating to Israel she became the prima ballerina of the Inbal Dance Theatre where she danced for 15 years touring the world including performances at Drury Lane and on Broadway. In 1964 she met my father in Los Angeles while filming a movie there. They married and she moved to LA where she taught dance at UCLA and founded her own very successful dance company.

I spent my childhood touring the US with her dance company on a broken down red school bus with 10 hippie dancers and a lot of homemade cheese. In the summers we would return to Israel where my mother would perform guest roles with Inbal. My sister and I slept more on studio and theatre floors than in our own beds. When my mother was not performing my parents went to every dance, theatre and music performance they could.

So, dance was the last thing that I wanted to do. I went to college and in 1993 I graduated from Harvard where I studied Social Theory and Philosophy and planned on going back to law school.

But, in 1994, my mother was appointed Artistic Director of Inbal and my father asked me to help her settle in. Shortly after we arrived, my Aunt Leah – who was a second mother to me – unexpectedly died. I was overwhelmed with grief and every day after sitting Shiva with my family (the Jewish tradition of observing seven days of mourning) I would return to the studio and lock the door. I was afraid that my memories of my aunt would fade so I tried to consciously remember every detail I could so that I would never forget her: her stories, words of wisdom, the way she laughed, cried, cursed, cleaned the floor, cooked, blessed me and sang.

I didn’t know this at the time but one of my mother’s dancers was secretly watching me from a balcony above the studio. At the end of Shiva, she surprised me in the studio and said that she wanted to show me some movement. She showed it me, I told her that it was beautiful and she said, “This is your movement. You should build a piece in memory of your aunt.” So I created and danced in my first work, Aunt Leah, which was a ritual remembrance of her life, her wisdom and her kindness filled with Adenite blessings, sayings, gestures and music.

That’s how I began to dance.

What were your early years of dancing and training like? What was a typical day like?

To this day I still have never taken a dance class. Because I first started in dance as a choreographer I focused on developing my own movement language. I follow a few rules: I create all of the movement on my own body, I try to create more movement than I actually need for the work, I try never to repeat myself and not to allow other choreographers’ movement sneak in.

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

I created my first work in 1995 when I was 27. After running my own company for four years, Ohad Naharin appointed me house choreographer for the Batsheva Dance Company. However, in 2000 I severely broke my leg. The injury was so bad that I couldn’t walk without pain for 2 years. I had to stop dancing completely and moved back home to Los Angeles to recuperate. I thought I would never go back to dance but in 2008, the Suzanne Dellal Centre in Tel Aviv invited me back to Israel and commissioned me to create Monger, my first work in eight years. And I have continued to choreograph since then.

What is a typical day like now?

Even when I do not have a commission to work on I try to spend at least 2-3 hours every day researching ideas and images for future works. I read as much fiction and plays as possible. I struggle through books on theatrical theory and practice, and I scour the internet for plays and dance performances. Of course, I try and drag myself into the studio every day to dance. I’m not always successful.

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

I think that at this point dance class might get in the way. I create dance theatre – not dance. I am not as interested in the aesthetics of movement. I am interested in the content of movement – not it’s form. Most techniques emphasise form so when I am in the studio I focus on developing and expanding my movement vocabulary. I guess the best way to describe it is trying to create a sign language for the whole body.

How do you begin your choreographic processes?

Before I was a dancer I was a singer and a musician. I’ve studied and performed music all of my life. I think that is the reason that I cannot see a work before I hear it. I really believe the dance begins with music.

So while I do begin a work with a vague idea or fragment of a story that I want to tell, I can only move forward when I hear it. My first task is to find the music that inspires the dance that tells the story. In creating the soundtrack of each piece I usually listen to around 10,000 tracks of music to find the 15-20 pieces of music that eventually make up the final score. That’s not as crazy as it sounds – most of the time I only listen to the first few seconds of a song. If it resonates physically, evokes an emotion or image or relates to a scene or idea that I want to investigate, I will save it to listen to at a later time.

My process involves collecting as many images, stories, ideas, songs, gestures and movements and little by little an image might resonate with a story, piece of music or a movement and create the beginning of a section. Slowly a storyboard emerges and I play with the various parts until a narrative arc emerges.

What inspires you?

People and their struggles inspire me. I’m an optimistic cynic and I see life as a constant struggle against forces – both external and internal – that seek to deprive you of your own free will and strength. All of my works deal with that. Aunt Leah was a piece about an overly kind woman who gave so much to others that she had nothing left for herself. The Land of Sad Oranges was about the danger of sanctifying a land or anything as holy. Emma Goldman’s Wedding dealt with a visionary woman’s fight against a stratified and misogynistic society. Monger is an upstairs/downstairs story about 10 servants controlled by a cruel mistress. Rooster is about a man so afraid of life that he can only realize his dreams by falling asleep. Harry deals with a man who defies the gods, Wonderland is a story about the dead. The work that I have created for Rambert, The Castaways, is a story of 12 deeply flawed individuals manipulated by an unseen master puppeteer.

In reading back over this list I realize that it all sounds quite dark. But I don’t believe in darkness. I believe my works are hopeful and humorous which I believe are the antidote to these forces.

What’s the best part of choreographing?

I love dance theatre because it tells a story, just like a play, film or novel does. I try to tell simple stories, not literal ones, and I am always conscious of it. I am quite jealous of theatre directors because they begin with a text that they can abstract upon.

I try and create the entire text or movement of the work before I get into the studio with the dancers. For me each movement is a word and these form a sentence or text that the dancer is speaking.

This is what I love most about choreographing: searching for the gesture or phrase that expresses the emotion, word or subtext that I want the dancer to speak physically.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a career in contemporary dance or choreography?

Be sober.

With rare exceptions I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a career in dance or choreography. Dancers’ careers are extremely short – most spend more of their lives training than they do dancing. Most choreographers are constantly battling to get enough jobs to survive. I know that I am doing better than most choreographers but there isn’t day that goes by when I am worried about paying the bills and consider changing careers.

Don’t get me wrong – I love dance and I love what I do. However, I believe that the dance world suffers from a collective self-delusion. Much of our system of dance education perpetuates a myth: that there is a huge career awaiting you. I have taught dancers throughout the world and time and time again I see a criminal failure to prepare dancers for the harsh economic reality that awaits them, and that’s if they are lucky enough to find a job. And I have seen too many wonderful dancers fall off the deep end when their careers come to an end.

Dancers and choreographers are also complicit in this—we cannot allow our love of dance to blind us to reality.

Again, I love dance, but I think it is time we started to have a serious discussion.

For dancers, my best advice is to understand that unfortunately much of the system and culture of dance focuses on telling you what you are doing wrong. Don’t buy this. You are humans not robots and that humanity is what can make dance so beautiful. And don’t ever allow a choreographer to force you to work through pain.

For choreographers my advice is not to get caught up in the drama (this isn’t easy because the dance world seems to be the last place of work where acting out is still seen as acceptable). We’re creating dance – not finding a cure for cancer – and the worst thing for a creative process is an environment where you cannot play, make mistakes or be vulnerable. You also should work harder than you think possible, create as much as possible and don’t over-idolise your idols. We all have choreographers whom we consider genius, are amazed by their creativity and aspire to be like them. But Emerson said it best: “Imitation is suicide.”

When I first started out my mother gave me some great advice. She said:

 

  1. Don’t care what other’s think—this kills creativity.
  2. Silence the critics inside your head.
  3. If you work, you will find, if you don’t work, you won’t find.
  4. Great artists don’t measure themselves by others, they are inspired by them.
  5. Fail.

For me growing as choreographer is all about trial and error, and more error.

Overall, what is the best part about dance for you?

I cannot think of an art form that more perfectly reflects the beauty and pain of the human condition.

What are you most looking forward to in choreographing for Rambert?

The dancers. They have a level of intelligence, talent and hunger that is rare. Beyond that I have not seen a company that is as ethnically diverse. They bring humanity to the stage and make my work better than it is.

Rambert’s Animateurs

Rambert Dance Company LogoNo one can deny the sheer talent of the dancers within a dance company, be it contemporary, ballet, or a jazz-hand waving West End show. However, it is often those people behind the scenes that support the work of the dancers, promote it, administrate it, direct it, and neither the dancers nor the ‘backstage’ team can do without the other.

For example, amongst many other teams of people working for the company, Rambert Dance Company (or Rambert, as it is now known) has a team of animateurs who take the work of Rambert and deliver it far and wide. The animateurs work as part of Rambert’s Learning and Participation team, and work with those who may not have access to Rambert’s work originally.

A case in point… earlier this year the animateurs worked with adult patients from HIV oncology wards and teenage out-patients over 5 sessions to create a piece of choreography using poems as a starting point. Often the partnerships with other groups begin with an interactive dance workshop, working to translate Rambert’s works to focus groups. February 2013 saw the creation of the partnership between Rambert Dance Company and Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity, and the programme included  a fortnight-long poetry residency project, 10 week dance workshop programme for patients and out-patients aged 50+ to improve their mobility. As a result the dance sessions offered inspirational experiences through engagement with contemporary dance and the prestigious company.

In the company’s move to London’s Southbank later this year, it will consequently be placed between two of the poorest boroughs in London. As a result it is likely that the company will do more to engage with its community. Rambert, the national company for contemporary dance, already offers a year-round programme of learning and participation activity throughout the UK for people of all ages and abilities, with other projects in hospitals and care environments including work with Queen Mary’s Hospital, St George’s Trust in Roehampton and Arts 4 Dementia.

Rambert’s 87th Birthday

Rambert Dance Company Logo

Rambert Dance Company turned 87 years old on 15 June 2013 as Britain’s oldest dance company. There has been much discussion amongst balletomanes recently about the ethnicity of dancers in British ballet and dance companies and the lack of British dancers, so it is ironic that Rambert’s founder, Marie Rambert, was Polish and originally studied Eurythmics under Emile Jacques-Dalcroze.

Established in 1926, Rambert – as it is now to be known following recent rebranding of the Richard Alston named Rambert Dance Company – is the flagship modern dance company of Britain, employing more dancers and artists than any other dance company in the UK. Rambert appeals widely to audiences all over the world, often dancing the works of iconic choreographers both past and present, such as Wayne McGregor, Siobhan Davies and American modern dance pioneer Merce Cunningham. This gives a certain stature to Rambert’s work as it continues to provide a vast repertoire of works around the world.

Rambert’s first choreographic work in 1926 is said to mark the birth of British ballet under the title A Tragedy of Fashion by Frederick Ashton, who was then one of Rambert’s students. In 1935 Rambert was renamed Ballet Rambert (from the Ballet Club as it was originally known), and this name remained until 1987. Rambert became a touring ballet company for up to 35 weeks a year during the Second World War and frequently performed at Sadler’s Wells. Ballet Rambert then went on to perform several classic including Giselle, Coppelia and the first major British productions of La Sylphide and Don Quixote, rather than creating new works.

In 1952 Rambert travelled to America to see the new developments in dance and study with some of the major choreographers of the time, such as Martha Graham. Following this the company returned to its original ethos and transformed from a medium-scale classical touring company, to smaller ensemble, to contemporary dance company in later years.