Rambert Dance Company

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Frederick Ashton (1904—1988) choreographer and director

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Britain's oldest dance company, founded by Marie Rambert. It grew out of performances given by the London ballet school which she opened in 1920. From 1931 the troupe was based at London's Mercury Theatre, under the name Ballet Club; from 1935 it was known as the Ballet Rambert, giving joint performances with the London Ballet at the Arts Theatre Club (1940–1). In 1943 it was reorganized as a national touring company with public funding. Early choreographers included Frederick Ashton, who created A Tragedy of Fashion (1926), Capriol Suite (1930), and Façade (1931) for the company; Antony Tudor who created Jardin aux lilas (1936) and Dark Elegies (1937); Andrée Howard who created Lady into Fox (1939); Walter Gore who created Simple Symphony (1944); and Frank Staff who created Peter and the Wolf and Enigma Variations (1940). The company's leading dancers included Pearl Argyle, Diana Gould, Maude Lloyd, Hugh Laing, and Harold Turner. Alicia Markova was ballerina at the Ballet Club for four years.

After the war the company staged its first full-length classic, Giselle (1946), and during the 1950s, in response to changes in public taste, it was increasingly forced to tour small-scale productions of 19th-century ballets rather than new work. In 1966 under the direction of Norman Morrice, the company abandoned its classical roots and became a small-scale modern dance troupe, eventually altering its name in 1987 to Rambert Dance Company to reflect its change of style. Since then Rambert has produced many important new choreographers and works. In the 1960s it reflected the Graham-based aesthetic of choreographers like Glen Tetley who mounted several ballets including Ricercare and Pierrot Lunaire on the company as well as making new works including Embrace Tiger and Return to Mountain (1968). Under the direction of Robert North (1981–6), works by Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor were added to the company's increasingly eclectic repertoire. Richard Alston, resident choreographer with the company from 1984, consolidated the Cunningham influence when he became artistic director in 1986 as well as contributing many important works of his own, such as Wildlife (1984). Christopher Bruce, who had been dancer and later associate choreographer with Rambert (1963–84), and whose early works for the company included Ghost Dances (1981), became its new artistic director in 1994, relaunching an expanded company with a repertoire of international neo-classical and modern works, such as Kylián's Petite mort, and his own, including Four Seasons (1998) and God's Plenty (1999). He also nurtured the choreography of company members such as Rafael Bonachela. He was succeeded by Mark Baldwin in 2002 who has further expanded the repertory, with works by himself, De Frutos, Armitage, André Gingras, and others; revivals of earlier works by Bruce, Davis, and others, and a partial reconstruction of Howard's Lady into Fox. The official school, which was founded in 1920, became the Ballet Rambert School, based at the Mercury Theatre. Rambert Academy, which was set up in conjunction with London Institute of Higher Education in 1979, merged with Rambert School in 1982.

http://www.rambert.org.uk Rambert Dance Company website


Subjects: Dance.

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