Dance Umbrella Press Release: Monday 10 April 2006
Betsy Gregory announced as new Artistic Director
Richard Jarman, Chairman of Dance Umbrella today announced the appointment of Betsy Gregory as Artistic Director Designate of Dance Umbrella. He said:
‘There was strong international interest in the job of Artistic Director. The Board undertook a rigorous process of selection for the candidate who offered an exciting vision for the future of Dance Umbrella. I am delighted that we have selected Betsy Gregory who brings not only a wealth of knowledge, artistic discernment and experience to the job, but also new ideas for how Dance Umbrella should develop in this important new phase of its existence. The Board is in no doubt that Betsy will build on the outstanding achievements of Val Bourne and take Dance Umbrella forward into an exciting future.’
Betsy Gregory is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella. She will continue to work alongside Val Bourne and the rest of the Dance Umbrella team, prior to, and throughout the 2006 festival. Betsy will take up the post of Artistic Director Designate in June 2006 and then become Artistic Director formally in January 2007. Speaking about her appointment today she said:
‘I am honoured to be have been chosen to succeed Val Bourne as Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella. Val’s achievement over the past 28 years has been unparalleled and it is because of her that Dance Umbrella is the vibrant, forward-looking organisation it is today. Val is leaving Dance Umbrella in such wonderful shape and, having been entrusted with her legacy, I am thrilled about the prospect of rolling up my sleeves and taking Dance Umbrella forward into the future’.
Speaking about her successor, Val Bourne, founder of Dance Umbrella said:
‘Betsy Gregory has been my wonderfully supportive colleague for more than eight years and I am thrilled that she is now to be given the chance to realise her undoubted potential as leader. I know her to have vision, flair, imagination, authority and indeed all the qualities essential in an artistic director. She is passionate about dance as an art form and, because she cares about the artists who create and perform it, has earned their respect and that of her professional colleagues. I am absolutely delighted to be handing over the Dance Umbrella baton to Betsy and am confident that the organisation will thrive under her direction. I eagerly await her first festival in 2007 and many more thereafter.’
Paying tribute to the immeasurable contribution Val Bourne has to the UK dance industry, Richard Jarman, Chairman of Dance Umbrella said:
‘In the 28 years since she founded Dance Umbrella, Val has made an incalculable contribution to the development of contemporary dance in Britain. Her faith in backing outstanding talent has helped a great number of choreographers to develop their work over a long period. Alongside Val’s work with UK artists and companies, she has introduced a huge range of companies to Britain from overseas. Through these and many other initiatives, Val has made a crucial contribution to building a healthy and critically aware audience for contemporary dance throughout the country. I am sure that her last festival, later this year, will be as vital and compelling as ever.’
Dance Umbrella 2006
Dance Umbrella 2006 opens on 21 September at the redeveloped Roundhouse with the London premiere of Merce Cunningham’s spectacular OCEAN. OCEAN is Merce Cunningham’s most monumental work and is considered by many to be the most impressive and audacious piece in his company’s repertoire. Dance Umbrella’s unique presentation of OCEAN is set to be one of the UK’s cultural landmark events of 2006.
The festival programme also includes Frankfurt-based The Forsythe Company at Sadler’s Wells in the London premiere of Three Atmospheric Studies and a festival focus, across several venues, on the work of Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her company, Rosas.
Australian Ros Warby makes her Dance Umbrella debut with SWIFT, a dance solo accompanied by live cello and film at The Place. The Czech/Italian company Déjà Donné, returns with its latest work, a Dance Umbrella commission, My Name is King. Other returning favourites include New York-based Stephen Petronio Company and South Africa’s Vincent Mantsoe. Dance Umbrella 2006 concludes on 4 November with the second part of Michael Clark's Stravinsky Project, Mmm… set to The Rite of Spring, at the Barbican Theatre. The full festival programme will be announced later this year.
Dance Umbrella was founded in 1978 with the aim of reflecting and encouraging the burgeoning interest in contemporary dance in Britain. From modest beginnings as a showcase for emerging choreographers, Dance Umbrella’s annual London festival now ranks highly among Europe’s leading international dance festivals. The organisation is recognised as one of Britain’s most adventurous dance promoters presenting a year round programme of work in London and across the UK.
Dance Umbrella has been responsible for introducing into this country some of the greatest international contemporary dance companies as well as nurturing, promoting and sponsoring some of the best of British modern dance. This was acknowledged and rewarded in June 2004 when Artistic Director Val Bourne received a CBE.
Dance Umbrella celebrates and champions contemporary dance and is dedicated to the development of choreography, choreographers and dancers. It has been doing this successfully since 1978.
Betsy Gregory was born and brought up in Massachusetts, USA. She received a BA in drama from Tufts University (Boston, MA), spending her final year in London. From 1973-76 she trained at London Contemporary Dance School and has worked in dance since then as a performer, teacher, administrator and programmer. As a free-lance dancer she performed with numerous companies and choreographers, most notably with Ian Spink. She was a founder member of Second Stride in 1982, and maintained a relationship with the company as performer and board member until its closure in 1998.
She has taught Tai Chi Ch'uan and contemporary technique at London Contemporary Dance School and has been a guest teacher for various companies including Adventures in Motion Pictures, The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs and Second Stride. From January 1989 until April 1997 she worked at The Place Theatre, initially as Project Co-ordinator and, from 1994, as Associate Director. In November 1997 she joined Dance Umbrella as Programme Manager and, in January 2003, was promoted to Associate Artistic Director.