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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2002 2:27 am 
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Rambert
by Debra Craine for The Times


AFTER eight years at the helm of Rambert Dance Company, Christopher Bruce is calling it a day. This month is his last with the company (Mark Baldwin takes over in December) and this Sadler’s Wells season is his farewell to London.

During his time as director Bruce has turned his dancers into a superlative and versatile troupe. He has enriched the repertoire with more than 40 new works, including important acquisitions (most notably from Merce Cunningham), historic revivals (Antony Tudor, Robert Cohan, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp spring to mind), and new creations from in-house choreographers.

But although his own dances form an important part of the repertoire, Bruce chooses to celebrate not himself this week but his company. Only one of his works is on the Wells programme, Grinning In Your Face, set to guitar arrangements by Martin Simpson and drawing on images of rural America, the Dust Bowl, the Depression and Steinbeck.

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<small>[ 11-13-2002, 18:11: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2002 4:45 pm 
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<img src="http://www.dancing-times.co.uk/Pics/dancingtimes/200211/cover.jpg" alt="" />
<small>Amy Hollingsworth and Paul Liburd in
Wayne McGregor's "Presentient" from The Dancing Times</small>

Rambert at Sadler's Wells - a few quick thoughts

A fine evening of dance to celebrate Christopher Bruce's final week as AD of Rambert. It is very heartening to see the dancers on great form performing such a varied programme. While it would have been perfectly acceptable to see two or even more Bruce pieces in his final week, in keeping with his modesty and the repertory nature of the Company, we saw only one - the recent "Grinning in Your Face", set to folk songs performed by Martin Simpson and located in rural America. It addresses social and human rights issues as much of Bruce's work does and uses folk music and folk dance-like motifs. Maybe one song could be dropped to shorten and tighten the piece, but the final 3 or 4 sections were strong enough to retain my interest to the end. More feel good than a lot of his output, "Grinning" ends on the very sombre Dylan song "Masters of War", distancing itself from the easy "send them out with a smile" attitude of much Americana.

Sue Davies' "Sounding" is a re-working of an earlier piece and is an elegant exploration of movement and space, as you would expect from this dance maker. The performers have had time now to fully settle into her style and Raphael Bonachela excels in a central solo.

Kylian's "Study from Blackbird" with its passion and anguish makes a contrast with the abstract "Sounding". I enjoyed much of the movement and the expressive dancing of Antonio Grove and Fabrice Serafino. However, some details of the choreography were distracting and this is a work I need to see again.

With Wayne McGregor's "Presentient", Rambert has a hit on its hands. The mix of solos, duets and ensembles for up to 12 dancers is as dynamic and innovative as you would expect from this choreographer. However, what came as a surprise was the sensuality of the slow, central section. Some of Rambert's finest movers - Angela Towler, Amy Hollingsworth, Ana Luján Sanchez and Raphael Bonachela - all have delicious solos. Afterwards some of the Company were saying that it can get better still - something to look forward to!

Christopher Bruce is bowing out on a high, both with his own recent work and his magic touch of selecting new pieces for the UK's oldest dance Company. Combined with the performance standards he has nurtured from the dancers, it is clear he has been an outstanding Artistic Director and I hope we can look forward to new choreography from him after a well-earned rest, painting and enjoying his beloved garden.

Do share any comments you have about the Sadler's Wells season or about Christopher Bruce and his contribution to world dance.

<small>[ 11-14-2002, 04:12: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2002 5:09 pm 
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The transcript of Christopher Bruce's session in the londondance chat room is now online.

Here's a section that caught my eye:

Quote:
I have enjoyed each facet of my career. To dance is a wonderful experience especially when working for so many choreographers, I've enjoyed creating work, I find the studio time with dancers very special and magical process and it is a pleasure to see work coming to a fruition on stage. Directing a company is a terrific challenge and I have enjoyed that challenge and learnt a great deal from the experience. I also feel privileged to lead this great company.


<small>[ 11-13-2002, 18:12: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2002 9:39 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
I think I can safely say that Christopher Bruce turned me on to dance for good! I had been going to dance performances for a very long time, but on and off through most of my life. After experiencing Bruce's "Meeting Point," premiered by Rambert at the UNited We Dance Festival in San Francisco, I was never the same again. That was the night I became a diehard fan and an advocate for ballet and modern dance.


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2002 2:31 am 
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Rambert Dance Company
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian

This season Christopher Bruce retires as Rambert's artistic director. While he has been in the post only eight years, the company has been family to him since 1963. With it Bruce emerged as one of his generation's leading dancers and choreographers, and it is through Rambert that his reputation will continue.
His farewell programme, deliberately low key, is less a personal history than a show of his director's vision, his eclectic commissioning style. Rightly, Bruce's choreography is the centrepiece, with a repeat of Grinning in Your Face, the dance portrait of the US midwest he created last year to the music of blues guitarist Martin Simpson.

Some of this overuses Bruce's trademark moves (folksy line dances and suffering asides), but there is a closely observed detail and empathy that reveals unexpectedly luminous moments within its characters' worlds.

click for more

************************************

Not Clement Crisp's cup of tea, as he is on record as disliking everything by Kylian, and Bruce works such as "Ghost Dances".

Bruce's farewell almost worthy of the occasion
By Clement Crisp for The Financial Times


This is Christopher Bruce's last season as artistic director of Rambert Dance, and 30 years since he made his first choreographies: I can still remember the excitement and passion of such early works as for these who die as cattle. In the preceding decade he had also given tremendous dance performances - unforgettably as Glen Tetley's Pierrot Lunaire, an interpretation of unassailable greatness. Now, after eight years, he hands on a troupe whose creative range he has extended and embellished.

I wish, though, that this final programme of his directorate had been somehow worthier of the occasion. The evening began, excellently well, with Siobhan Davies' 1989 creation for the company, Sounding. Against the mysteriously resonant twangings of Giaconto Scelsi's score, six dancers draw shapes in the air, explore idiographs of action that employ swiftest changes of muscular timing. It is true plotless dance whose plot, nonetheless, is the dance itself, which is fascinating. I think it important, very rewarding.

available for a week only:

click for more

<small>[ 11-14-2002, 03:32: Message edited by: PressUK ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2002 10:04 am 
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RAMBERT DANCE COMPANY
Sadler’s Wells, 12 November 2002


Luciana Brett

Christopher Bruce has left us with a splendid finale. His eight and half year stretch as Artistic Director has come to an end. Reassuringly though, the Rambert Dance Company have never looked so sublimely confident.

Last year the program appeared tame and polite. This year Bruce has pushed his company forward, delivering works which were both moving and significant.

After Siobhan Davies’ reworked ‘Sounding’, efficient but essentially cold, it was ‘Study from Blackbird’, choreographed by the Prague-born Jiri Kylian which set the pulse going. The piece had allure and impact, not only because the dancers (a man and a woman) performed topless, wearing loose fitting trousers to cover their lower half, but because of Kylian’s fascinating and rare use of dynamics and rhythm.

While the traditional Georgian music played a continuous haunting monotone, deep and calming; the dancers wrestled with sharply punctuated movement phrases. Seconds later and their bodies would fall languid, as if they were tracing their flaccid limbs through a narrow tunnel.

Dancing together, or apart, the relationship between the two dancers was equally striking. Their strange and bewitching movement patterns: shaking limbs, abrupt rhythmic changes (breaking movements mid-flow as if being punched in the stomach) would yield suddenly to the soft and sensual, lending the piece a mysterious ambiguity.

The music again played a powerful role in Wayne McGregors ‘PreSentiment’, receiving its London premier. McGregors normally cool and detached choreography was given new depth, and even drama, by the live orchestra playing Steve Reich’s grand ‘Triple Quartet’. Rich undertones of sounds heightened the thrill of what was being asked of the Rambert dancers. Captivated, we watched twelve performers stretched to their limits, deforming the angles of the body, bending and shaping their joints with speed and precision. The energy and pace was relentless.

On a quieter note, but equally impressive was Christopher Bruce’s latest creation ‘Grinning in your face’.

Whenever I watch Bruce I’m transported back to the 70’s, where he created his first works, and a strong political message was part of the era. Now in 2002 we seemed to have come back full circle and ‘Grinning in your face’ couldn’t have come at a better time.

The structure of his pieces has not changed dramatically, the struggle and hardship of the people are still clearly important, in this case the American folk of the rural mid-west, evoked by Martin Simpson’s guitar rendition of songs by Bob Dylan and others. With movements always light and fluid, feet flexed, arms swinging, Bruce retains his charm and wit.
But it’s hearing Bob Dylans plea for peace echo through the auditorium, as the men head for war in the last section, where Bruce really touches a nerve. One only wishes George Bush had been sitting in the front row, listening and taking note.

<small>[ 11-16-2002, 07:43: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2002 4:13 pm 
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What a fabulous repertoire this company has! I wish that they'd tour to San Francisco. I recall really enjoying "Sergeant's Early Dream" which SFB did here, but wondering what it was like on Rambert!

ME:)


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2002 3:29 am 
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A hero's fitful farewell
Ismene Brown reviews the Rambert Dance Company at Sadler's Wells for The Daily Telegraph.


These past eight years are unlikely to have been the happiest of Christopher Bruce's life. For a choreographer to be artistic director of any repertory dance company is a straining against their nature, but to have had to rescue Britain's oldest company from almost certain death - which was what he was briefed to do in 1994 - takes heroic courage.

His tactic as Rambert's director was to try to make modern dance more popular in its appeal. His own folksy choreographic style has always spoken to popular taste, and he has commissioned Britain's best modern choreographers. He also contacted his European peers, Jiri Kylian and Mats Ek, and picked rather well.

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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2002 3:46 am 
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Many thanks for the comments from around the world.

mehunt, you might be interested to know that "Grinning in Your Face" is in similar mode to "Sergeant Early's Dream", using folk music and dance to great effect.

Reading through Rambert's London reviews has underlined that, for the critics, Jiri Kylian now occupies the same space as Bejart ie one notch up from the Antichrist. This is in contrast to the situation on the Continent and N. America, I believe, where Kylian remains in high esteem.

As a dance writer of sorts myself, I have to say that I find choreographers and dancers are a more reliable guide to quality. Christopher Bruce clearly still admires Kylian's work and after last night's performance I spoke with one of the UK's leading ballet creators who told me that the choreography in Kylian's "Study for Blackbird" was the outstanding work in Rambert's programme.

The message is - try Kylian for yourself and don't be put off by the critics.

<small>[ 11-15-2002, 13:31: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2002 7:51 am 
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An e-mail message from Andy Banks:

Quote:
I much enjoyed the programme (as usual) at Sadler's Wells on Wednesday, but would like to raise one question about the staging of this item.

Both dancers, indeed the whole of the company, obviously have superb physiques, but why was it considered necessary for the female dancer to perform this topless? My partner was somewhat taken aback by this, not to say annoyed; in her view it was exploitative of the audience as much as the dancer. I found it distracting, and could not see what it added to the choreography. It could hardly be just a matter of visual balance between the performers.


<small>[ 11-17-2002, 18:16: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2002 10:53 am 
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Here is a response to Andy Banks' message from Susan Coffer, Director of Marketing at Rambert:

Study from Blackbird was created by Jiri Kylian and his aesthetic does, on occasion, require the dancers to perform without clothing. It is my understanding that the decision was made in order to create an air of vulnerability between the dancers. The duet, while abstract, is loosely based on the idea of lost love, or the need to ‘escape’ from a love. Certainly, the visual balance between the performers is a relevant observation, although the female dancers do have the option of performing in a loose-fitting top. Interestingly, of the three female dancers who perform the role only one has chosen to wear a top.


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2002 1:38 pm 
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It's so interesting how the response to Kylian varies. I'm happy though that there are companies like Rambert out there interested in bringing his works and I hope that they continue to do so.

His "Bella Figura" startled people here in San Francisco when NDT performed it (it also has a nude figure, being swallowed up in a curtain) but I think the startling of audiences can be a goodthing. I've never seen him do anything that I found tasteless.


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2002 6:19 am 
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<img src="http://www.rambert.org.uk/uploads/images/hi_res/home_page_right.jpg?14" alt="" />
<small>Christopher Bruce's "Ghost Dances"</small>

The farewell evening to Christopher Bruce as AD of Rambert Dance Company was a very successful and moving occasion and a full house at Sadler’s Wells gave him a fine send off.

After the curtain went down on Wayne McGregor’s “PreSentient”, Prudence Skene the Rambert Chair stepped out to introduce the tribute to Christopher Bruce (see her comments below). John Chesworth spoke first giving his own memories and those of Norman Morrice, who could not be there. John remembered being summoned to a class and Marie Rambert demanding his views on a young man with a beautiful arabesque and a large scowl. “Typically she couldn’t remember his name, but said it was two Christian names. She said that the boy was difficult but had gorgeous feet and would be special.” Chesworth remembered Christopher’s first performance with the Company in Hull and taking him to the pub afterwards to tell him about the realities of touring. Later Christopher commented that he was underage at the time!

John closed by pointing out that he too was retiring that year and perhaps they could put an ad in the paper, “Two old hoofers seek employment.”

One of Christopher’s most famous parts was the title role from Glen Tetley’s “Pierrot Lunaire” and the choreographer sent his best wishes via Lucy Burge who had played Columbine in the same production. Tetley remembered initially worrying for the dancers’ safety on the metal scaffolding, but how it had all come together suddenly and been marvellous.

For the present, Steven Brett, the Associate Artistic Director, remembered Christopher’s first meeting with the Company as AD, where he told the dancers that it was going to be hard work and they would have to do it his way. Clearly “his way” had worked very well and it had been a special relationship over the next 8 years. Steven also told us that Christopher was one of the few ADs of a major company to come to work on a Mary Poppins bicycle.

For the future, the new AD Mark Baldwin paid tribute to the wonderful Company he was rejoining, having peviously been a dancer at Rambert and how excited he was to taking over this wonderful Company. He hoped that Christopher would be back before long to make new work for the Company.

Christopher responded to the tributes and told us how fortunate he had been in his career, especially as he had only taken up dance to strengthen his leg so that he would be better at football. As his family had little money he was allowed to take the Rambert classes free of charge and helped out in the ******* in return. He told us how much he had learned from Dame Marie Rambert and most of all the importance of discipline. And as if to underline how remarkable she had been he repeated the trick she performed until she was 70 – a cartwheel.

Christopher had wanted any gifts to be directed to the relaunched Ashton/Bruce Commissioning Fund, which will commission at least two new works each year. Nevertheless, Prue Skene pointed out that it was impossible not to do something for the occasion and Glen Wilkinson, the longest serving dancer and the newest recruit Gemma Wilkinson presented a gift from the Company. Later I learned this was a very large photo album looking back over Christopher’s 40 years with the Company – what could have been better.

Here is the text of the tribute from the programme by Prudence Skene, Chair of the Rambert Board.

FAREWELL TO CHRISTOPHER BRUCE

After eight and a half highly successful years, it is with very real sadness that we say farewell to Christopher Bruce as Rambert’s Artistic Director. Christopher’s career as dancer and choreographer with the Company runs like a seam of gold through the rock of Rambert’s history. An artist of extraordinary talent, he was a somewhat reluctant candidate for the more formal position of Artistic Director when he was approached in 1994. His long-standing association with and commitment to Rambert prevailed however and he realised that he was ideally placed to formulate a vision for the Company. This was created out of a passion for Rambert and a desire to see this great dance company move forward, while also being true to its past.

During his time as Artistic Director he has inspired the Company’s dancers to perform at the highest standards and persuaded an impressive list of international choreographers to bring works into the Rambert repertoire. Christopher has also championed the work of young British choreographers and encouraged dancers from within Rambert to develop their choreographic skills. He has achieved all of this while always considering Rambert’s audiences who, through his excellent programming, have been entertained with a remarkable variety of choreographic styles. Christopher’s legacy to his successor, Mark Baldwin, is the excellent artistic shape in which he leaves the Company.

Everyone who has been associated with Christopher during his years with Rambert will remain inspired by his dedication to the Company, his devotion to the highest artistic standards and his personal modesty about his own magnificent talents. On behalf of the present Company and the Board, I would like to express the gratitude and very real affection that we all feel.

To mark the outstanding achievements Christopher has made during his tenure as Rambert’s Artistic Director, the performance on 14 November will be dedicated to him. One of Christopher’s priorities as Artistic Director has been to provide choreographers with the opportunity of creating new works for Rambert. It is felt, therefore, that the most appropriate way of honouring his impressive contribution to the Company is to provide a fund that can be used for the future commissioning of new works. It is also felt that this is the moment to link Bruce’s name with that of the first great choreographer in Rambert’s history, Sir Frederick Ashton. The Frederick Ashton Memorial Commission was established by Rambert in 1990 and has to date supported work by Ashley Page, Mark Baldwin (Rambert’s in-coming Artistic Director), Mathew Hawkins and Wayne McGregor. It is proposed that on 14 November the FAMC is re-launched and renamed the Ashton/Bruce Commissioning Fund, with the intention of its providing funds for at least two new works each year for the Company’s repertoire. We are delighted and honoured that Dame Alicia Markova has agreed to remain Patron of the re-launched Fund. If you would like to make a donation to this Fund, and pay tribute to Christopher, please call the Development Department on 020 8630 0640.

Prudence Skene CBE
Chairman

<small>[ 12 February 2003, 07:18 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2002 6:33 am 
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<img src="http://www.sadlerswells.com/whats_on/autumn2000/images/rambert_content.jpg" alt="" />
<small>"Swansong" by Christopher Bruce.
One of his most famous works inspired by human rights concerns.</small>

Amnesty International UK presentation to Christopher Bruce
at Sadler’s Wells on 14th November.

At the post-performance party, Amnesty International UK presented Christopher Bruce with Honourary Life Membership. Some 250 of the great and the good from the UK dance and arts world, including Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, heard about the strong link between Rambert and Amnesty from Linda Wilkinson and the great contribution that Christopher has made to the depiction of human rights concerns in dance.

Christopher responded that he was the luckiest man in the room to have had the opportunity to make dances about the social issues that concerned him and he was delighted that they had proved so valuable in Amnesty’s work. He ended with an impassioned call not to forget the inequalities, suffering and other human rights abuses that still abound around the world.

Here is Linda’s speech and the text from the Certificate of the Honorary Life Membership:

Linda Wilkinson’s Presentation Speech

We’ve already heard about the wonderful contribution that Christopher Bruce has made to the UK and world dance scene and we are all profoundly grateful for that. I would like to take a few minutes to highlight his particular achievements in the field of dance and human rights.

Throughout his career, Christopher has been a strong supporter of Amnesty International’s ideals and through his choreography he has voiced his concerns for society, the persecuted and victims of a wide range of human rights abuses. Time and again he has returned to these themes and in his most recent work “Grinning in Your Face”, these concerns are articulated as powerfully as ever.

The Arts have an important role to play in exploring social issues and dance can be seen as the most human of the Arts as it is based on the body. The image of the tortured prisoner from “Swansong” or the unjust imprisonment of Reuben Carter in “Hurricane” are far more powerful than mere words can ever be. Indeed, video extracts of Christopher’s work have been used to reinforce talks about human rights abuse.

Over the past few years strong links have developed between Amnesty and Rambert Dance Company with the full support of Christopher and his staff. This includes Rambert arranging for local Amnesty groups here and overseas to have information tables and collections in theatres where pieces such as “Ghost Dances” are playing. We have also worked with the Education Department on material for schools and this has been reflected in the “Swansong in Focus” presentation for GCSE and A/L students and in the teachers’ packs. For example, we provided some case studies as an inspiration for students to make their own dance works on these themes.

So we consider ourselves very fortunate to have the benefit of Christopher’s brilliant illumination of human rights concerns. Concerns which sadly remain a dark feature of life today in so many countries around the world.

We want to say a very big thank you to Christopher and all the staff at Rambert for their important contribution in the fight for human rights and I am delighted to present Christopher with Honorary Life Membership of Amnesty International UK and a CD set of the complete recordings of Victor Jara, who was tortured and murdered by Pinochet’s forces and was the inspiration behind “Ghost Dances”.


Text on the Certificate

Certificate of Honorary Life Membership -

presented to Christopher Bruce, dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director of Rambert Dance Company (1994-2002)

by Linda Wilkinson, Chair of Amnesty International UK

for his brilliant portrayal through dance of human rights concerns and for the innovatory contribution of Rambert Dance Company in the field of human rights education.

November 2002

*********************************

Prudence Skene, Rambert Dance Company's Chairman would like to add the following:

Thank you so much Stuart, for all your support throughout the season and for making that farewell presentation on behalf of Amnesty International so special.
Best Wishes
Prue

<small>[ 19 January 2003, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Rambert Autumn tour 2002 - Feedback Forum
PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2002 7:02 am 
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There's a Bruce on the loose
Rambert's director bids farewell while Harlem's breakdancing ballet leaves everyone wanting more. By Jann Parry for The Observer

Rambert Dance Company / Dance Theatre of Harlem Sadler's Wells, London EC1
The best leaving present Christopher Bruce could have, after eight years in charge of Rambert Dance Company, is a really good new work dedicated to him. He's got it in Wayne McGregor's PreSentient, given its London premiere in Bruce's farewell season at the Wells.

Bruce has chosen to bow out modestly, with a mixed bill displaying the dancers' versatility in a range of styles, rather than a retrospective of his own work. He started choreographing for the company (then known as Ballet Rambert) in the 1960s; as a dancer, creator and director he has been an important contributor to its fortunes ever since. He hands over to Mark Baldwin, another Rambert alumnus, next month.

Bruce's legacy, apart from his own choreography, is a newly relaunched commissioning fund in his name and that of Frederick Ashton, Rambert's founding choreographer. The company's reputation has always been based on its creative record, developing its own talents as well as attracting established names.

click for more

************************************

A farewell with arms
Rambert reveals its debt to the departing Christopher Bruce, says David Dougill for The Sunday Times.


Christopher Bruce retired last week after eight and a half years as artistic director of Rambert Dance Company, and the strength and versatility of the dancers’ performances, as well as the huge range of work in their repertory, are a testament to Bruce’s vision for our flagship contemporary dance troupe.
Of course, Bruce was no outsider when he took over in 1994. He was a student at the Rambert school from the age of 13, and in the 1960s emerged as one of Britain’s finest male dancers and most influential new voices in choreography, linked to a tradition going back to the early years of Ashton and Tudor. Although Rambert has changed its image several times, it has been strong on preserving the “blood lines”...

click for more

Stuart adds: I'm delighted that David Dougill has reported the Amnesty International award to Christopher Bruce (details in the post above).

<small>[ 11-17-2002, 10:11: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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